Cougars Defeat Stanford in Round Rock

Round Rock Classic Cougars Beat

The Houston Cougars opened up the inaugural Round Rock Classic with a win over the Stanford Cardinal on Friday night in Round Rock at Dell Diamond.

Stanford got on the board in the first with an early 1-0 lead off of Cougars starter Lael Lockhart Jr. . . .  The Cougars got the run back in their half of the second on a Blake Way sacrifice fly to left and the game was tied at one going into the fourth . . . For Way, it was the first of three RBI in the game.

The Cougars bottom of the fourth was an adventure for everyone at Dell Diamond . . . Houston sent eleven batters to the plate and eight of them reached base with seven of them scoring . . . The Cougars took advantage of three errors in the frame, including two on one play by Stanford’s first baseman . . . The inning also saw two stolen bases, one by Blake Way, the other by Brad Burckel . . . After the big inning, Houston took an 8-1 lead into the fifth.

Lockhart Jr. settled in after the allowing the run in the first inning and was crisp with his pitches and command into the fifth when he started to scuffle a bit . . . With two outs and the bases loaded, the Cougars went to Isaiah Blaylock who quickly shut down the threat with a strikeout and without allowing any runs to score.

Stanford once again loaded the bases in the sixth, this time with no one out, and Brayson Hurdsman was brought in from the bullpen and he escaped the inning with no damage done . . . The Cardinal would get three runs in their half of the seventh to make the score 8-4.

With the game still 8-4 in the bottom of the eighth, Ryan Hernandez hammered a no-doubt three-run homerun to put the Cougars back on top by eight heading into the ninth . . . Hernandez has homered in three of his first four games as a Cougar.

Tristen Bayless entered the game in the eighth and pitched the final two innings striking out three and securing for Lael Lockhart Jr. his first win on the season and a 1-0 record while the team evened its record at 2-2 . . . Leadoff batters reached base in six of the eight innings for the Houston offense, four of those were hits, one was a walk, and the other was a hit-by-pitch.

The Cougars return to action Saturday at 2pm at Dell Diamond against the Tennessee Volunteers. –

 

Cougars Fall in Extras 6-3

Clay Aguilar winds up to face Youngstown State Saturday night.
Clay Aguilar winds up to face Youngstown State Saturday night.

The Houston Cougars and the Youngstown State Penguins needed extra innings Saturday night for the second of their three-game opening weekend series.

Blake Way got the scoring started for the Cougars with a two-out solo homerun in the second to give Houston a 1-0 lead.

Clay Aguilar got the Saturday night start and he did not disappoint . . . Aguilar kept the Penguins at bay for most of his outing, some of the hits against him were of the “tough luck” variety, not solid hits as if opponents had timed Aguilar perfectly . . . A defensive error would lead to three unearned runs in the sixth and that brought Aguilar’s evening to an end.

Tristen Bayless took the mound and got out of the sixth on his first and only pitch of the inning . . . Bayless returned to the mound and before it was all over, he had gone 4 1/3 innings of one-hit baseball while striking out eight on forty-eight pitches . . . Bayless was sharp and he had hitters fooled several times.

The Cougars would crawl back from a 3-1 deficit, first with a seventh inning homerun by Friday night star Ryan Hernandez, a blast off of the black Houston Baseball sign in left-center, followed by an eighth inning homerun by Kobe Hyland off of the scoreboard in right-center.

Extra innings beckoned . . . Both teams went quietly in the tenth, but the Penguins jumped ahead when Penguins first baseman Steven D’Eusanio hit a three-run homerun to left-center in the top of the eleventh . . . Despite a comeback of their own in the eleventh, aided by a dropped fly ball in right field and the tying run at the plate, the Cougars dropped their first game of the 2020 season 6-3.

The Cougars conclude their series with the Penguins with a rubber game on Sunday at noon at Schroeder Park. –

Takeaways from 2019 Fall Exhibition, Game 2

Houston Cougars vs UIW 10-27-2019

The Houston Cougars welcomed several recent friendly faces as part of the University of the Incarnate Word baseball team to Schroeder Park on Sunday afternoon . . . Former Cougars assistant and third base coach Ryan Shotzberger is now the head coach at UIW . . . He took with him Kyle Winkler who was a Cougars coach for a few weeks before Shotzberger took over in San Antonio and Winkler followed him.

Three UIW players were on the Cougars roster earlier this year; Ron Brown, Drew Minter, and Landon Etzel . . . All three saw action in Sunday’s exhibition.

An important thing to remember about the exhibition games is that they are quite literally for the development of the players and nothing more . . . The scores are meaningless . . . The teams played 11 innings on Sunday just because they wanted to . . . The Cougars batting lineup, was twelve players deep, and toward the end of the exhibition, players were literally being plucked out of the dugout to bat in situations that were good for them, even if it meant they had just batted in the previous inning and several spots in the order were skipped.

One of the most interesting situations occurred when the Cougars came to bat in an inning, and before anyone even stepped up to the plate, a base runner was placed at first base for situational practice . . . The pitcher got to work from the stretch, the runner attempted a steal, and was thrown out at second . . . Fun for everyone.

So that brings us back to the highlights and lowlights of Sunday’s action.

Blake Way got the Cougars offense on the board in the third with a homerun to left field . . . Kobe Hyland hit a homerun to straightaway center in the eighth, a ball that hit the batters eye on the lower right corner just above the wall, it was an impressive show of power from the Cougars shortstop, the ball landed to the left of one of the 390 feet signs on the wall in center.

Bryson Hill hit a triple to right to score two runs in the seventh . . . Steven Rivas hit a triple to center which was a tremendous blast that continued to carry further and further off the bat . . . The triple brought home two runners.

Ryan Hernandez walked once and was hit-by-pitch twice, and he stole second base after being hit the second time . . . He continues to be a solid presence at the plate in just his second game with the Cougars.

Luke Almendarez made the defensive play of the game at second base . . . A slow-moving ball was hit toward the right side of the second base bag, Almendarez fielded the ball and falling toward left field threw across his body and just got the runner at first . . . It was a gold star play by the freshman.

Seven Coogs shared in pitching the eleven frames on Sunday . . . Carter Henry started the game and went one scoreless inning . . . Nick Rupp, Robert Gasser, and Isaiah Blaylock each followed with two innings . . . Spencer Hynes pitched 1 1/3 innings with Tristen Bayless going 1 2/3 innings . . . Brayson Hurdsman handled the final inning of work.

All in all, the teams each technically plated seven runs in the final exhibition game of the fall for the Houston Cougars . . . The Cougars will play the Red vs. White game this next Friday, November 1 at 6pm at Schroeder Park . . . Admission is free, these games always prove to be interesting affairs.

Cougars Drop Regular Season Finale in 11

Houston Cougars Baseball

For the UCF Knights and the Houston Cougars, fifty-four games would not quite be enough to put the finishing touch on the 2019 regular season . . . The Knights and the Cougars went ahead and played eleven innings on Saturday night in Orlando.

The Cougars fail behind early, and the lesson is clear, digging yourself too deep a hole almost never works out . . . UCF was leading 7-1 by the end of the third and nothing in the Houston offense this week indicated that a comeback was possible . . . However, in the top of the fourth the Cougars put together a rally on a series of two-out two-RBI hits to plate four in the inning and get back into the game 7-5.

In the seventh, the Cougars tied the game at eight capped off by a two-RBI single to left by Joe Davis who batted with the bases loaded after having been intentionally walked three times up to that point (he would also be intentionally walked in the ninth).

The Knights got two runs back in the bottom of the seventh to take a 10-8 lead . . . In the top of the ninth, with Jared Triolo stealing third and Landon Etzel stealing second, the UCF catcher launched his throw into left field . . . Triolo scored easily, and Etzel just barely beat the throw home to score all the way from first on the play and tie the game at ten.

UCF finally broke through in the eleventh when they loaded the bases after an intentional pass and with the infield playing in with one out, a pop fly to left was just out of the reach of a hustling Blake Way, the ball fell in and the winning run crossed the plate for the Knights.

The 11-10 regular season-ending affair lasted just over five hours and the Cougars used six pitchers and plenty of bench players in the effort . . . Of the six pitchers used, Fred Villarreal who pitched two innings, was the only pitcher not to allow a run . . . Houston also left eighteen runners in scoring position . . . The big comebacks are always difficult, so much energy is expended getting the game back to even, that often nothing is left for what comes next.

The Cougars are off until Tuesday morning when they will open the American Conference tournament against UConn in Clearwater, Florida . . . First pitch is at 8am Houston time. –

Cougars Stop #7 Texas A&M 4-1

Ryan Randel delivers a pitch vs. Texas A&M Tuesday night at Schroeder Park. Photo by Cougars Beat.
Ryan Randel pitches to Texas A&M Tuesday night at Schroeder Park.
Photo by Cougars Beat.

In order to extend their current winning streak to five games, the Houston Cougars would need to take down the #7 Texas A&M Aggies at Schroeder Park on Tuesday night . . . A tall order indeed.

Houston got off to another early start Tuesday night, something they have been doing often recently. It began with Jared Triolo hitting the first pitch of the game from Aggies starter Chandler Jozwiak into center field for a base hit . . . Blake Way then followed that with a double that went to the wall in right-center and plated Triolo all the way from first . . . Four batters later, Derrick Cherry hit a two-out single to score Way from second and give the Cougars an early 2-0 lead . . . Cherry would go 3-for-4 in the game, adding a single in the sixth and a double in the eighth.

The Cougars would add another run in the second to take a 3-0 lead.

Texas A&M went to their bullpen to start the third inning . . . A bevy of Aggies pitchers would keep the Cougars scoreless until the seventh when catcher Kyle Lovelace scored from third on a wild pitch after reaching base on a leadoff single, his second hit of the game, part of a 2-for-4 night that also continued to help Lovelace raise his average to .211 on the year.

Ryan Randel was cruising from the start . . . The Aggies got their first baserunner in the third on a defensive error, one pitch later Randel got a 4-6-3 double-play and the inning was over . . . Ryan faced the minimum in each of the first five innings and did not surrender his first hit until the sixth inning . . . Randel started to fade in the seventh after a walk and a single and the Cougars went to the bullpen with the two runners on base and one out . . . Randel’s 6 1/3 innings with one run allowed  on two hits was a welcome sight after his last couple of short outings.

Sean Bretz entered the game and on the second pitch induced a bouncer to third, Jared Triolo made an incredible grab and threw home quickly to get the runner from third trying to score . . . Two pitches later, Bretz got another grounder, this one to first baseman Joe Davis who ranged to his right to field it, and then raced the runner to first for the third out of the inning . . . Four pitches, two outs, inning done, momentum stopped.

Sean Bretz took the mound again in the eighth with the Cougars leading 4-1 and got the side down in order with two strikeouts and an outstanding defensive play by Jared Triolo at third when he played a bounce perfectly on a ground ball by A&M’s Brett Brown for the second out . . . Bretz went 1 2/3 scoreless without allowing run and only allowing two hits.

Fred Villarreal entered the game in the ninth to slam the door on the Aggies . . . Villarreal hit the leadoff batter, but he got the next three batters in order as he was hitting 91-92mph and struck out Aggie clean-up hitter Mikey Hoehner for the final out before a crowd just shy of 3,000 . . . For Villarreal the 4-1 victory was his eighth save of the season, for Randel it was his third win on the season.

The light bullpen usage of only two pitchers on Tuesday night should mean a rested and ready bullpen for their upcoming series which begins Thursday this week instead of Friday.

The Cougars will welcome the Cincinnati Bearcats for the weekend series, but the schedule is slightly different than usual because of the Easter holiday . . . There is no game on Sunday and instead the series begins on Thursday . . . Thursday and Friday, first pitch is at 6:30, and Saturday the game starts at 1pm. –

 

Newspaper column version of this recap

Cougars Win at Lamar; Davis Homers Again

The Houston Cougars celebrate victory at Lamar University in Beaumont on Tuesday.
The Houston Cougars celebrate victory at Lamar on Tuesday.

Stop me if you have heard this before . . . The Cougars rally late, on a Joe Davis homerun, to win, and Fred Villarreal earns a save.

That is what took place in Beaumont on Tuesday evening as the Houston Cougars visited the Lamar Cardinals, with some other drama along the way.

Clay Aguilar was on the mound for the Cougars and he looked sharp early and his breaking pitches really had nice movement . . . But Aguilar started to lose command of his pitches in the second and the pitch count rose as well . . . Aguilar would leave the game in the third, charged with four runs, but two were unearned as some bizarre baseball took place behind him in the second and third, including the Cougars committing the first two of what ended up being four errors on the night.

Some small ball would help get the Cougars get on the scoreboard in the third as a single by Brad Burckel and a sacrifice bunt by Kyle Lovelace put a runner in scoring position for a double by Jared Triolo, Triolo’s only hit of the night . . . Burckel singled in his first two at-bats, and scored both times.

Rey Fuentes, 3-for-5 in the game, hit an opposite field homerun to lead off the fourth inning . . . The fourth inning also included a single, a wild pitch, a batter bit by a pitch, a stolen base, a sacrifice bunt, another single, another wild pitch, and a partridge in a pear tree . . . When the dust settled the Cougars had scored four in the frame and were leading 5-4.

Lamar scored three in their half of the fifth to take a 7-5 lead . . . This lead held until the top of the eighth when Tyler Bielamowicz, who was on second after a leadoff double to left, was singled home by Lael Lockhart Jr., part of a 2-for-2 night for Lael as he hit the ball hard both times . . . Catcher Blake Way who had entered the game in the sixth replaceing Kyle Lovelace hit a double to center to score Lockhart from second, tying the game at eight.

Devon Roedahl had entered the game in the seventh, relieving Brayson Hurdsman, and he was outstanding . . . Roedahl ended the seventh completely freezing Lamar’s Cole Girouard on a called third strike to end the inning . . . Devon returned to the mound in the eighth and sent Lamar batters down in order to set up the ninth inning.

Joe Davis led off the ninth inning . . . Davis was sitting 1-0 when he unloaded on the second pitch he saw from Lamar’s Ryan Erickson . . . The homerun shot was a no-doubter, the left-fielder barely moved as he watched the ball sail over his head and over the left field wall . . . The Cougars would be retired in order after the Davis homerun.

Fred Villarreal came in to close the door with a 8-7 lead, and he did so on nine pitches as he retired all three batters he faced . . . For Villarreal it was his sixth save on the year.

The Cougars have little time to rest, they return to action tomorrow night back home at Schroeder Park where they will host Florida International University (FIU) . . . First pitch against FIU is at 6:30pm. –

 

Newspaper column version of this recap

Randel, Way Lead Cougars to Victory

Houston Cougars bat against Army Saturday night. Photo courtesy of @EdwinM201 via Twitter.
Houston Cougars bat against Army Saturday night.
Photo courtesy of @EdwinM201 via Twitter.

Houston Cougars fans were treated to a very quick two-and-a-half hour ballgame on Saturday night at Schroeder Park . . . A second straight Cougars win and a short game time were a welcome result on a warm, muggy evening that got more humid as the temperature dropped.

The Army Black Knights faced Houston right-hander Ryan Randel who was dominant and efficient early . . . Army could not muster anything against Randel until the fourth when they scored the only run they would get off of him in an inning where the Black Knights got a leadoff walk and two base hits.

Blake Way has been a nice addition to the Cougars lineup in the last week plus . . . Saturday night Way would hit a triple in his first at-bat and he would score on a wild pitch to get the Cougars on the board first . . . Way would bring home the Cougars second run of the game in the fourth with a sacrifice fly scoring Jared Triolo.

Meanwhile, Randel went seven very good innings, allowing just the one run on 99 pitches . . . Randel going as deep as he did into the game spared the bullpen from being taxed too much in the middle game of the weekend series after a very rough last nine day stretch.

Fred Villarreal would relieve Randel in the eighth and would eventually get his first save on the season after an adventurous ninth where the tying run would reach third with one out, before Villarreal would get a big strikeout and a groundout to second to end the game and secure the series win for Houston, their third series win on this early season . . . Villarreal would lower his ERA to 1.10 on the year . . . Randel improved his record to 2-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.11.

The series with Army concludes Sunday at 1pm at Schroeder Park as the Cougars go for the sweep. –

 

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Cougars Fall to Texas State 9-4

Joe Davis bats in the 7th with Jared Triolo on 2nd on Saturday. Photo by Cougars Beat.
Joe Davis bats in the 7th with Jared Triolo on 2nd on Saturday.
Photo by Cougars Beat.

The Houston Cougars continued their participation in the 2019 Shriners College Classic at Minute Maid Park on Saturday facing the Texas State Bobcats . . . The Bobcats were fresh off of a 1-0 shutout against Rice on Friday, so it was a positive sign when the Cougars jumped out to an early lead.

Houston catcher Blake Way, in only his third start behind the plate this season, got the Coogs on the scoreboard first in the second inning with a two-out line-drive homerun into the Crawford Boxes off of Bobcats starting pitcher Hunter McMahon.

Houston sent right-hander Ryan Randel to the mound for the second game of the weekend . . . Randel would face a little trouble in each of the first two innings, with runners getting to second base with no outs both times. In both innings however, Randel would rally to induce ground balls and get strikeouts to end both innings unscathed.

The Cougars allowed the Bobcats to tie the game in the third and then take the lead in the fourth . . . After allowing six hits and three runs on 78 pitches, Randel would hand the ball to Fred Villarreal with runners on first and second with just one out . . . The Bobcats would score four unearned runs in the inning to take a 6-2 lead into the fifth.

The Cougars would inch closer in their half of the fifth, but what could have been a downpour was only a light sprinkle . . . The Coogs would set the table, loading the bases with one out, for the 2-3-4 hitters, and would score just one run on a Jared Triolo infield single with Triolo hustling to beat the throw to first base.

Blake Way had few problems with McMahon on Saturday . . . Way would follow his homerun with a walk in the fifth and then a majestic two-out double off the wall just to the right of the Crawford Boxes in the sixth inning.

The Bobcats would finally go to the bullpen in the seventh . . . The only blemish for the bullpen was a monster homerun by Rey Fuentes in the bottom of the ninth, but by that point the game had largely been decided . . . The Bobcats would defeat the Cougars 9-4 . . . A bright spot was the bottom of the Cougars order accounting for 3 of their 4 runs and 5 of their 8 hits . . . For the first time this year, the Cougars are under .500 as they fall to 4-5.

The Cougars will conclude the weekend against Texas A&M on Sunday afternoon at 3pm . . . Get on out to Minute Paid Park and support the Coogs. –

 

Newspaper column version of this recap