2022 MLB Draft Recap

Three Houston Cougars from the 2022 squad heard their names called during the final day of the 2022 Major League Baseball Draft on Tuesday afternoon, along with one former Cougar and two Houston commits.

Ben Sears was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 14th Round.

Logan Clayton, who had transferred away from Houston after the season ended, was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 17th Round.

Jaycob Deese was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 17th Round.

Samuel (Sammy) Hernandez, a catcher at Lakeland High School in Florida, was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 14th Round.

Kevin Kilpatrick, a college transfer who was committed to Houston, was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 17th Round.

Jonathan Thomas, a former Cougar who played for Texas Southern in 2022, was drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 19th Round.

Players, whether drafted or undrafted, have until August 1st to sign a contract with the team that drafted them or as a free agent if they were not drafted.

Houston’s Season Ends in Clearwater in Championship Final

Maddux Miller pitches against ECU in Clearwater on Sunday (Photo credit: American Athletic Conference/Mary Holt)

The Houston Cougars saw their season come to end on Sunday afternoon in Clearwater as they fell 6-1 to East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference Championship final.

While East Carolina was able to jump out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, the Cougars found no such luck with the Pirates pitching staff.

Freshman Cameron Nickens was 3-for-3 on Sunday afternoon and drove in the only Cougars run on a single in the top of the seventh inning . . . Nickens accounted for half of the Cougars six base hits in the contest.

Maddux Miller pitched 2 2/3 innings out of the bullpen at a critical point in the game and he was outstanding, striking out five Pirates batters . . . Ben Sears followed Miller and was equally great, also over 2 2/3 innings where he did not allow a hit and struck out three batters.

Where Houston saw its season end on the second day of the AAC Championship in each of their last two appearances, the Cougars made it to the final game in 2022 and the very young Cougars team experienced what it takes to play big time, competitive baseball.

Ryan Hernandez played his final game as a Houston Cougar on Sunday, and just as he has been the epitome of class and hard work during his three years with the program, he was just as classy and prideful in his postgame comments.

“I’m very proud of this team,” Hernandez said. “I love being a Houston Cougar. When I first committed here, I committed as soon as I got the opportunity to commit here.”

Head coach Todd Whitting was still hopeful and positive about both the season and the future after the loss Sunday.

“This is still one of my favorite teams I’ve ever had,” Whitting said. “Coming off a tough year last year, just the unbelievable commitments to the program, to the University of Houston, and to what we were trying to do.”

“We got a couple of holes to fill going in to next year, I feel good about it. We start three freshmen every day, we got a ton of guys coming back. The future is bright at the University of Houston,” Whitting said.

Reflecting on some of the great times during his career at Houston, Hernandez said, “I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’ve had a great time here and I’m really appreciative of that.”

Hernandez was selected to the All-Tournament Team after Sunday’s game, along with teammates Jose Torrealba, Santiago Garcia, and Anthony Tulimero.

The Cougars finish the season 37-24. The 2022 offseason begins now.

Houston Opens Final Home Series with 9-6 Win

Ryan Hernandez bats in the second inning Friday night against UCF

The Houston Cougars defeated UCF 9-6 on Friday night at Schroeder Park, and they had to erase an early four run deficit to do it.

Houston faced an uncharacteristic 4-0 first inning deficit before they even came to bat on Friday night, but as often has been the case with the 2022 Cougars, they played nine innings of baseball and found a way to win.

Cameron Nickens led off the bottom of the second inning with a ground-rule double into right field . . . Ryan Hernandez (2-for-2) followed with a home run to center field that split the Texas and United States flags beyond the wall and the deficit was cut in half, 4-2.

Anthony Tulimero led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a single and Nickens followed with a single, his second hit of the ballgame . . . Hernandez followed with his second home run of the game, a shot to left-center field, and Houston led 5-4 . . . For Hernandez the two homers were his fourth and fifth in the last five games, and his tenth and eleventh of the season.

One out later Malachi Lott tripled to center field . . . Brandon Uhse lined a two-out single to left field and the Houston lead increased to 6-4 going to the fifth inning.

Logan Clayton took the mound in the fifth inning with two runners on base and no outs . . . One run would score, but a sacrifice fly to center field turned wild on a throw that got past Zach Arnold at third base as the base runner was trying to tag up from first base to third base . . . Clayton was backing up third base and dove on the loose ball in front of the Cougars dugout, as the runner made for home, Clayton got up and fired a dart to Tulimero at home plate to catch the runner and end the frame with Houston leading 6-5.

Maddux Miller entered the game in the seventh inning with two down and got a swinging strike out to end the frame.

Ben Sears took the mound for the eighth inning protecting a one-run lead and retired the Knights in order, striking out two.

Leading by a run in the bottom of the eighth, Hernandez was walked for his second straight plate appearance, with one out . . . Ian McMillan doubled into the left field corner to put runners on second and third with one out . . . Santiago Garcia, pinch-hitting for Lott, swung at the first pitch he saw and unloaded on the baseball deep to left-center field for a three-run home run and a 9-5 Houston lead.

Houston benefited from the insurance runs because a two-out solo home run for UCF in the ninth inning made it 9-6, before Sears finished off the Knights and earned his twelfth save of the season . . . Clayton improved his record to 6-3.

With East Carolina winning on Friday night, the Pirates hold a two game edge over the Cougars, who continue to occupy the second spot in the standings, now two games ahead of UCF.

The Cougars (34-16) and the Knights continue the series on Saturday when they play again at Schroeder Park, first pitch will be at 6:30pm . . . Kyle LaCalameto will be on the mound for Houston.

Houston Takes Series in Wichita, Stands Alone in Second in American

Houston closed out their weekend series at Wichita State on Sunday

Houston took their second straight conference road series with an 11-8 win over Wichita State in Wichita on Sunday.

With two outs in the top of the first inning, Alez Lopez extended the inning when he singled to reach base . . . Anthony Tulimero then homered to left field to give the Cougars an early 2-0 lead.

Over the first two innings, the Shockers scored three runs to take a 3-2 lead into the third inning.

Brandon Burckel walked and Brandon Uhse singled to set the table in the top of the third inning for Houston . . . Lopez singled home a run before Tulimero was hit by a pitch to load the bases . . . Cameron Nickens and Ryan Hernandez each singled home a run . . . Ian McMillan doubled to the wall in left field to drive in another run.

A fielder’s choice on a batted ball by Santiago Garcia resulted in a rundown between third base and home plate, as Garcia made for second base, the throw to attempt to get him out was well wide of the base and a sixth and final run scored in the frame and Houston led 8-3.

Houston starter Nathan Medrano took the game into the third inning and gave way to Logan Clayton with two outs in the inning.

Still leading 8-7 in the sixth inning, a lead off walk to Hernandez got the inning started  . . . Two walks and a fielder’s choice put runners on base for Uhse who delivered a two RBI single . . . Arnold drove in the third run of the inning on a ground out to third base and Houston took an 11-7 lead.

Ben Sears entered the game in the fifth inning with two outs in relief of Clayton and pitched the final 4 1/3 innings of the game, only surrendering a run on a solo home run with two outs in the ninth inning . . . Sears improved to 7-2 on the year with the win.

In a reversal of what happened in 2021, where the Shockers took seven of eight against the Cougars, Houston won four of six contests this year . . . The Cougars are now alone in second place in the American Athletic Conference, behind only East Carolina, with two big weekend series remaining . . . The Cougars will face UCF at Schroeder Park next weekend, they lead the Knights by one game, and then Houston closes out the regular season the following weekend in Greenville against East Carolina.

The Cougars return home on Sunday evening and will face Sam Houston State on Tuesday at Constellation Field in Sugar Land in the third and final game of the 2022 Don Sanders Cup, which Houston won in April after taking the first two games of the series . . . First pitch on Tuesday is scheduled for 6:30pm in Sugar Land.

Cougars Erase Early Deficit, Win at Wichita State 7-4

Jaycob Deese faces Wichita State in the seventh inning on Friday

Houston opened up their weekend series in Wichita, Kansas on Friday with a 7-4 win over the Wichita State Shockers and finally exacted some revenge on an recent foe.

The Cougars of 2021 and 2022 had been unable to figure out Wichita State starter Jace Kaminska in three games last season and one game earlier this season . . . Over that stretch, Kaminska was 4-0 and had allowed just two runs in 32 1/3 innings, which includes a contest in the American Athletic Conference Tournament in Clearwater, Florida last May.

Trailing 3-0 in the top of the third inning, Brandon Burkel led off the frame with a single and then stole second base . . . Alex Lopez hit a two-out double into right-center to plate Burckel and cut the deficit to 3-1.

Houston starter Jaycob Deese faced the minimum in the third inning, getting a pickoff at first on a runner who had singled with two outs . . . Deese then faced just three batters in both the fourth and fifth innings, requiring just nine pitches in the fifth.

Lopez singled to lead off the sixth inning with the Cougars still trailing 3-1 . . . Anthony Tulimero followed with a walk, and Cameron Nickens was hit in the helmet by a pitch to load the bases with no outs . . . Ian McMillian batted a ball to deep short and before the ball could break free and run into left field, the Shockers shortstop stopped the ball on a dive, but he had no play as a run crossed the plate, the bases remained loaded and the Cougars trailed by a run.

Malachi Lott lined a ball down the right field line all the way to the wall to clear the bases and the Cougars took a 5-3 lead on the double by Lott.

Kaminska left the game after six innings pitched, having allowed five runs.

Ahead 5-4 in the top of the eighth inning, Tulimero led off the inning with a fly ball to center that looked like a sure out, but it was dropped by the center-fielder and Tulimero stopped at second base . . . One out later, Ryan Hernandez hit his seventh home run of the year over the wall in deep left-center field to push the Houston lead to 7-4.

Deese gave way to Ben Sears to start the bottom of the eighth inning with the three run lead . . . Deese did not allow a walk in his seven innings, and in uncharacteristic fashion, only struck out one batter.

Sears handled the final two innings, and while he did not look his sharpest (he walked two and hit a batter), it was nice to see the right-hander work through some adversity and record the six records he was tasked with getting . . . Deese improved to 5-2 on the year with the win and Sears picked up his tenth save.

Head coach Todd Whitting commented on his team coming back from a 3-0 deficit to take the road victory on Friday night, but also of the outstanding defense played behind his pitchers throughout the game. 

“Proud of our offensive unit tonight,” Whitting said after the game. “We had a great plan against one of the top pitchers in our league. We did a tremendous job of grinding out at bats and playing great defense.”

The Cougars and the Shockers are back in action on Saturday afternoon in Wichita . . . Kyle LaCalameto will be on the mound for the Cougars . . . The scheduled first pitch is at 2pm.

Houston Earns Road Sweep of South Florida with 9-2 Win

Ian McMillan bats in the second inning Sunday in Tampa

Houston opened May by completing a weekend sweep of conference foe South Florida 9-2 in Tampa on Sunday.  

The Cougars opened the game by getting the first three batters on base, but they only scratched across one run on a sacrifice fly to center by Anthony Tulimero that allowed Brandon Uhse to tag from third base for the early Houston lead.

Ian McMillan led off the second inning with a monster home run to left field and the Cougars led 2-0.

After the Bulls tied the game in the second, Houston responded when McMillan (2-for-3) homered again with two runners on base and the Cougars took a 5-2 lead.

Zach Arnold hit his team-leading ninth home run with one out in the sixth inning and that was followed by back-to-back doubles by Alex Lopez and Tulimero (2-for-3) . . . The RBI by Tulimero made it 7-2, it was his second hit of the ballgame, which extended his reached-base streak to fifteen games, which is the second time this season Tulimero has done that.

Nathan Medrano got the Sunday start for the Cougars and the only blemish was the two runs allowed in the second inning, otherwise Medrano kept the Bulls from getting back into the game once the Cougars re-took the lead . . . Jackson Dannelley took the mound in the seventh and pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Medrano.

Houston added two runs in the ninth after back-to-back walks to begin the inning . . . Brandon Burckel hit a sacrifice fly ball to right field for a RBI . . . Arnold then hit a two out single to push the Cougars advantage to 9-2 going to bottom of the ninth.

Ben Sears pitched the ninth and after a lead off double, he retired the next three batters, putting the finishing touch on the 9-2 win and the weekend sweep.

Medrano’s record improved to 6-3 with the victory.

Houston outscored South Florida 28-9 over the weekend, and 22-4 over the final two games.

The Cougars head back to Houston today and will be off for a couple of days before they play host to Rice on Wednesday night at Schroeder Park . . . Houston hits the road for a series at Wichita State next weekend, so Wednesday is one of the few chances to see the Houston nine while they remain hot . . . First pitch on Wednesday is scheduled for 6:30pm.

Houston Takes Opener Against Bulls in Tampa

Houston traveled east to face the South Florida Bulls on Friday in Tampa, Fla

Houston defeated the South Florida Bulls by a final of 6-5 on Friday afternoon in Tampa, Florida to take the opening game of their weekend conference series. The start time for the game was moved up several hours because of threatening weather, so the first pitch actually took place just after 11am Houston time.

Jaycob Deese got the Friday start once again for the Cougars and he was sharp early, kept his pitch count respectable and despite a couple of mistake pitches, gave Houston a great start that positions them well for the rest of the weekend with regard to the bullpen.

Anthony Tulimero led off the second inning by walking to be the Cougars first base runner of the afternoon . . . Cameron Nickens doubled to the gap in right-center to score Tulimero and give the Cougars the early lead . . . Ryan Hernandez then singled into right against the shift to plate Nickens and Houston led 2-0 going to the bottom of the inning . . . Tulimero extended his current reached-base streak to thirteen games, he had a similar streak to begin the season that spanned the first fifteen games before it ended on March 13.

Trailing 3-2 in the top of the sixth, Houston got a one-out double from Alex Lopez to start a rally . . . A hit batter and a fielders choice loaded the bases and the Cougars tied the game on a wild pitch . . . Hernandez then drove a ball into left field allowing Tulimero to tag up from third base on the sacrifice fly and Houston led 4-3.

Samuel Tormos (2-for-3) led off the seventh with a single and Tab Tracy entered the game to pinch run for Tormos . . . Tracy stole second and was driven home on a double by Brandon Uhse off the wall in left field . . . Zach Arnold (2-for-5) followed with a single up the middle that scored Uhse and the Cougars had a 6-3 lead.

Ben Sears replaced Deese with two outs in the seventh inning to record the final seven outs leading by a pair of runs . . . After posting a zero in the eighth, the Bulls got a run off Sears in the ninth inning to narrow the deficit, but Sears got a key ground out and a fly ball to center to secure the 6-5 victory . . . Deese improved to 4-2 on the season with the win, and the save was the ninth for Sears.

The Cougars improved to 27-15 overall and 8-5 in The American . . . The eighth conference win surpasses the seven conference victories in all of 2021 with eleven conference games left to play this season.

Weather has moved the schedule around quite a bit this weekend, the Cougars and the Bulls will play the middle game of their series on Saturday morning, first pitch from Tampa is scheduled for 9am . . . Left-hander Kyle LaCalameto will be on the mound for Houston.

Houston Defeats Memphis, Takes Series

Nathan Medrano throws the first pitch on Sunday against Memphis

Houston held on to a late lead, in a reversal of the previous two games, in a 7-5 victory on Sunday at Schroeder Park to take their second straight conference series. The Cougars had to win the final two games of the weekend to claim the series.

Houston took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a bases loaded walk to Ryan Hernandez.

The score remained 1-0 until the fourth inning when Memphis tied the game on a bases loaded groundout double-play after having loaded the bases with no one out . . . Houston starter Nathan Medrano worked around further damage by getting a strikeout to end the inning.

Still tied in the bottom of the fifth inning, Alex Lopez (3-for-4) started a two-out rally with a double . . . Two walks loaded the bases for Hernandez who proceeded to hit a grand slam over the wall in left field for a 5-1 Houston lead . . . Hernandez accounted for five of the Houston runs batted in on Sunday.

The Tigers got two runs back in the top of the seventh inning and Medrano exited the game with two outs having allowed three runs, all of them unearned, on 104 pitches.

The Cougars added to their tally in the seventh inning as well . . . Lopez singled on the infield to lead off the inning . . . Anthony Tulimero doubled to the wall in center field to plate Lopez from first base . . . Cameron Nickens followed with a double to the gap in left-center scoring Tulimero and the Cougars had a four run cushion once again, 7-3.

Ben Sears came on in relief of Logan Clayton with two outs in the eighth inning and although Memphis got a run, Sears limited the damage . . . Memphis added another run in the ninth, but Sears limited it to that.

Medrano improved to 5-3 on the season with the 7-5 win and Sears picked up his eighth save in recording the final four outs . . . Lopez was the only Houston hitter with multiple hits in the game.

Houston ended its eight game homestand and will now be on the road for the next four games . . . The road schedule begins with a midweek matchup on Tuesday in Beaumont against Lamar, first pitch is scheduled for 6pm.

Tulimero Home Run Pushes Cougars Past Tigers

Kyle LaCalameto throws the first pitch Saturday night against Memphis

Memphis rallied late for the second night in a row, but on Saturday night Houston responded with a walk off home run to win 5-4 at Schroeder Park.

Brandon Uhse led off the Cougars first with a walk, and one out later Alex Lopez doubled to put runners at second and third . . . Anthony Tulimero singled to the gap in left-center to bring in the first two runs of the game . . . With Houston runners on second and third, Ryan Hernandez singled through the infield and the Cougars led 4-0.

Kyle LaCalameto departed after the seventh inning sporting a 4-1 lead . . . LaCalameto struck out eight and allowed just five hits on 125 pitches in an outstanding outing . . . LaCalameto also lowered his ERA to 2.92.

For the second night in a row, the Tigers rallied late to tie the game, this time it was with a three-run eighth inning against the Cougars bullpen.

The bullpen continued to struggle in the ninth and after the first two Tigers batters reached base, Houston went to the bullpen again, this time Ben Sears took the mound . . . Sears induced a groundout, a pop up on the infield, and a fly ball to center field to end the threat and send the game to the bottom of the ninth.

With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Anthony Tulimero hit a home run to deep left-center on a hanging breaking ball to make the Cougars walk off winners, 5-4 . . . The home run was Tulimero’s second of the season . . . Ben Sears improved to 6-2 with his inning of work in relief.

Houston and Memphis conclude the weekend series on Sunday with a scheduled first pitch at 1pm . . . At the moment, Houston has not announced a starting pitcher for the game.

Houston Loses After Late Memphis Rally

Alex Lopez bats in the first inning on Friday night against Memphis

Houston lost the opener of its weekend series on Friday night as Memphis rallied for four late runs to win 11-9 at Schroeder Park.

The Cougars struck first after a Brandon Uhse lead off single was followed by a walk to Zach Arnold . . . Alex Lopez then doubled to the left field wall to score Uhse and Arnold and the Cougars led 2-0 before the Tigers had recorded an out.

Houston added a run in the second when Ian McMillan led off the inning with a double and one out later was driven home on a single up the middle by Brandon Burckel (3-for-4) . . . Houston then proceeded to load the bases and a Lopez single scored Burckel from third, which was followed by two more runs in the frame and the Cougars led 6-0 going to the third inning.

The Tigers clawed their way back into the game, scoring four runs over the third and fourth innings and they tied the game at six with a pair of runs in the fifth . . . Deese was relieved with two outs in the fifth inning and Maddux Miller took the mound to get out of the inning.

The game did not stay tied for long when McMillan hit a two-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning to once again give the Cougars a two-run lead . . . Houston added a run in the sixth on a wild pitch to lead 9-6.

Jackson Dannelley pitched two efficient innings and faced just eight batters before giving way to Ben Sears for the eighth and ninth innings . . . Memphis scored four runs in the top of the ninth to take an 11-9 lead into the final frame.

The Houston offense got two on in the bottom of the ninth inning but could rally as they fell in the weekend opener.

Houston and Memphis continue the series on Saturday at Schroeder Park with a 6:30pm scheduled first pitch . . . Kyle LaCalameto is slated to be on the mound for the Cougars.