Cougars Claim Silver Glove Series with 12 Inning Win at Rice

Brandon Uhse led off against Rice Tuesday at Reckling Park

It took twelve innings on Wednesday night at Reckling Park but Houston eventually took the game 8-5 and with it Silver Glove Series from Rice.

Brandon Uhse hit the second pitch of the game for a leadoff single . . . Zach Arnold followed with a single of his own in front of a walk to Alex Lopez to load the bases with no outs . . . A bases loaded walk to Anthony Tulimero gave Houston the early lead . . . A wild pitch brought another run across the plate to give Houston a 2-0 first inning lead.

Rice tied the game almost immediately to reset the game going to the second inning.

Thomas Lyssy led off the top of the fourth inning by reaching base on an error by the Rice second baseman . . . One out later, Drew Bianco hammered a ball to the wall in deep right-center field to score Lyssy from first base . . . Arnold singled home Bianco to give Houston a 4-2 lead.

A leadoff walk to Ian McMillan started the top of the sixth inning . . . Bianco was hit by a pitch to put the first two Cougars batters of the inning on base with no outs . . . Arnold grounded out to second base to move both runners into scoring position . . . McMillan then scored on a wild pitch to give the Cougars a 5-4 lead.

Rice rallied for a run in the ninth to force the game into extra innings.

After two scoreless innings in extras, the Cougars offense delivered a three-run top of the twelfth inning to put the game away . . . Pinch-hitter Cary Arbolida walked with one out to get things started . . . Tulimero then reached base on catcher’s interference . . . Murray then pulled a single into left field as pinch-runner Brandon Burckel was moving with the pitch allowing him to cross the plate easily as the go ahead run . . . Nickens singled to plate Tulimero and the Cougars led by two runs . . . With runners on the corners, a pick-off attempt at first base allowed Murray to steal home for an 8-5 lead.

Owen Woodward came in to handle the bottom of the twelfth inning . . . After allowing a leadoff double, Woodward struck out the next two batters swinging and the final batter looking to strand the runner at second base and give Houston the Silver Glove Series for another year . . . Most of the 2,060 patrons had vacated Reckling Park as the ballgame ran 4 hours and 20 minutes.

The two teams combined to use 21 pitchers in the twelve inning midweek contest, the Cougars themselves used ten arms. In addition to Murray and Woodward, Houston pitched Graysen Drezek, Braedyn Cunningham, Ryan Dollar, Braden Forsyth, Dan Wright, Brendan O’Donnell, Maddux Miller, and Kyle Ayers . . . Only Wright and Ayers pitched more than two innings, with Ayers showing up clutch in the tenth and eleventh innings . . . Ayers got the win and improved to 2-1 this season and Woodward earned his fourth save this year.

Houston will host Wichita State at Schroeder Park this weekend for their second conference matchup of the season . . . The Cougars and the Shockers are tied for first place in the conference right now, so this weekend will create separation one way or the other . . . First pitch Friday night is scheduled for 6:30pm.


Houston Wins Orlando Opener in 10 Innings

Malachi Lott led off for Houston against UCF on Friday night

Houston took the opener of their weekend conference series in Orlando with a 13-7 win over UCF on Friday in ten innings.

Houston only scored runs in three innings on Friday night, but they did it in bunches.

A two-out walk to Alex Lopez in the top of the first inning put a runner on base for catcher Anthony Tulimero . . . . Tulimero homered deep to left-center field and the Cougars took an early two-run lead.

Brandon Uhse (2-for-4) led off the top of the second inning with a home run to straight away center field . . . The flood gates opened after that.

Thomas Lyssy (3-for-5) immediately followed with a single, and then Ian McMillan doubled in front of a Drew Bianco single . . . A misplayed fielder’s choice on a grounder by Malachi Lott led to a run crossing the plate . . .  One out later Alex Lopez knocked a single to the opposite field to drive in Bianco and Lott and the Cougars led 7-0, chasing the Knights starting pitcher in just his second frame.

The Cougars did not score another run until the tenth inning.

Meanwhile, the Knights got four runs of their own in the bottom half of the second inning to keep the game close, trailing just 7-4 going to the third inning.

While Josh Ekness did not have his best night, he gave his teammates 5 2/3 innings on the mound and left just before a Knights two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning tied the game at seven . . . Ekness threw 121 pitches in the game.

Maddux Miller followed Ekness and tossed two innings allowing just one run . . . Brendan O’Donnell then followed Miller and tossed 1 1/3 innings with some tense moments, but he did not allow a run and stymied one potential game-winning threat.

In the top of the tenth innings, the Cougars started rolling once again . . . Tulimero led off the frame and was hit by a pitch . . . Justin Murray (3-for-5) followed with a single before both runners moved into scoring position on a wild pitch . . . Cameron Nickens was walked to load the bases in his first plate appearance of the game after replacing Uhse . . . Lyssy picked up his third hit of the night by punching a grounder through the drawn-in infield on the right side to drive in a run . . . Lott singled to left field to drive in two more Houston runs.

Zach Arnold then launched a 2-2 pitch out of the ballpark, over the Houston bullpen beyond the left field wall for a three-run home run and a 13-7 Cougars lead.

Murray took the mound for the ninth inning and he retired all three batters he faced on just thirteen pitches to close out the road victory and earn his sixth save of the season . . . O’Donnell was the winner and improved to 3-0 this season.

Houston had fifteen hits in the game and two batters walked and only left five runners on base . . . The Cougars pitching staff stranded nine Knights runners on base.

With Wichita State also winning on Friday night, the Cougars and the Shockers remain tied for the top spot in the conference standings, a full game ahead of East Carolina . . . Tulane and East Carolina had their game stopped due to the weather in the seventh inning with Tulane leading 9-6 . . . The Pirates and the Green Wave will attempt to finish the game on Saturday, before the two teams are scheduled to compete in a doubleheader . . . There is the potential for 21 innings of baseball in Greenville on Saturday.

Saturdays game between the Cougars and the Knights has been moved up to 11am CT because of the potential for bad weather in Orlando on Saturday night . . . While no pitcher has been announced yet, look for the Cougars to stick with what has worked since Paul Schmitz was sidelined and start Lott on the mound Saturday.

Houston Takes Opener Against Bulls 6-5

Houston opened a weekend series with South Florida Friday at Schroeder Park

The Cougars took the first game of their weekend series with conference foe South Florida on Friday night with a 6-5 victory at Schroeder Park.

South Florida jumped out to a 3-0 first inning lead against Houston.

Brandon Uhse led off the top of the second inning with a single, the first hit of the game for the Cougars . . . One out later, Justin Murray (3-for-4) tripled to the wall in right-center field to score Uhse . . . Brandon Burckel followed with a two-out single into left-center field bringing Murray across the plate . . . After an errant throw on a pick-off attempt at first base allowed Burckel to reach second base, Ian McMillan (2-for-3) singled into center field to tie the game at three.

Trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the third inning, the Houston offense got churning once again . . . Zach Arnold singled to lead off the inning and extend his reached-base streak to 30 games . . . Alex Lopez followed with a walk . . . Two outs later Murray doubled off the wall in right field to give Houston a one-run lead, driving in his third run of the game . . . Cameron Nickens followed with a single into right field to drive home Murray and the Cougars led 6-4.

Right-hander Owen Woodward took the mound in the third inning with two outs . . . Woodward proceeded to throw five innings when the Cougars needed someone to eat up some innings after the short outing by the Friday starter . . . Woodward allowed just one run and struck out four while not walking any batters . . . Brendan O’Donnell got the final out of the top of the eighth inning, striking out the only batter he faced.

Murray took the mound in the top of the ninth inning to protect the 6-5 lead . . . Murray allowed a one-out infield single on a slow-roller to shortstop but he worked around it to retire the next two batters and earn the save, his fifth of the season . . . Woodward picked up the win for his effort, he improves to 3-0 this season.

The Cougars (19-15, 5-2) and the Bulls will continue their series on Saturday afternoon at Schroeder Park . . . Due to the potential for weather issues later in the night, Saturday’s first pitch has been moved up to 2pm . . . Paul Schmitz will be on the mound for Houston as they look to capture the series.

Cougars Win 14-3 Over Sam Houston, Even Sanders Cup

Houston hosted Sam Houston at Schroeder Park Tuesday night

The Houston Cougars evened the Don Sanders Cup series on Tuesday night with a dominant 14-3 victory over Sam Houston at Schroeder Park . . . The win was also the 400th career win for head coach Todd Whitting.

Houston went to the bullpen in the first inning already trailing 2-0 . . . Right-hander Braden Forsyth took the ball with two on base and one out and induced a double-play ground ball to end the inning without further damage.

The Cougars wasted no time changing the score . . . Zach Arnold (3-for-4) singled into right-center field to extend his reached-base streak to 29 games with one out . . . Alex Lopez followed with a double to the wall in right field to drive in Arnold all the way from first base . . . Brandon Uhse (3-for-4) tied the game with a single to right field before a RBI single by Justin Murray (3-for-4) gave Houston a 3-2 lead going to the second inning.

Forsyth was replaced on the mound with two out in the top of the fifth inning having pitched 4 1/3 quality innings, his longest out of the season, at a time when Houston needed to stop the hemorrhaging in the first inning.

With the game tied at three in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Cougars mounted another big rally . . . Drew Bianco led off the frame with a walk . . . One out later, Arnold singled for the second time on the night . . . After a walk to Lopez to load the bases, Uhse doubled down the right field line to drive in two runs . . . A sacrifice fly RBI to left field off the bat of Anthony Tulimero (2-for-3) was followed by Murray’s second RBI single to right field in the game and Houston grabbed a 7-3 lead heading to the sixth inning.

With two runners on base and no outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, Malachi Lott doubled off the wall in right field to drive in one run . . . Arnold followed with his third single of the game to drive in two runs . . . Lopez and Uhse both followed with two RBI doubles . . . Murray, as the eighth batter of the frame, flew out to right field for the first out of the inning, but his sacrifice fly RBI made it 13-3 in favor of Houston.

The Cougars added a run in the bottom of the seventh inning on a sacrifice fly to left field by Uhse to score Lott from third base and Houston led 14-3.

The Houston bullpen held the Bearkats offense to no runs and just one hit over the final five frames . . . Brendan O’Donnell, Maddux Miller, Malachi Lott, and Dan Wright all limited the potent Sam Houston lineup to preserve the victory . . . O’Donnell (2-0) retired all four batters he faced and earned the win . . . Miller retired the side in order in his frame and Lott struck out two Bearkats in his inning of work . . . Wright struck out the side in the top of the ninth inning.

The Houston win sets up a decisive third game to determine the winner of the 2023 Don Sanders Cup . . . The Cougars and the Bearkats will determine the winner of the Cup on May 16 at Constellation Field in Sugar Land.

Asked about his 400th win of his career, Whitting was gracious and directed credit for it to everyone but himself.

“400 wins come by being surrounded by great players, assistant coaches, fans, donors and an administration that has the same vision. I truly appreciate everyone that has the same passion that I have for University of Houston Baseball,” Whitting said.

Houston is off until they welcome South Florida to town for a conference series beginning on Friday . . . . The Cougars have won the first two conference series, first against East Carolina and then against Wichita State . . . First pitch at Schroeder Park will take place at 6:30pm.

Cougars Win 5-2, Sweep Minnesota

Alex Lopez is greeted by his teammates after homering Sunday in the 8th inning

Houston completed its first sweep of the 2023 season in Minneapolis on Sunday by topping Minnesota 5-2 at US Bank Stadium.

Houston trailed 1-0 going into the top of the third inning . . . With two outs in the frame, Drew Bianco singled to reach base . . . Malachi Lott (4-for-4) followed with a single that moved Bianco over to third base . . . A double-steal attempt allowed Lott to reach second, a throw by the second baseman to home plate was wild and allowed Bianco to score the tying run while Lott moved up to third base on the error.

Zach Arnold walked and stole second base before Alex Lopez (2-for-4) lined a single up the middle to score both Lott and Arnold to give the Cougars a 3-1 advantage.

Josh Ekness made his second start on the mound in less than a week, but he was practically just as effective as in the other two outings . . . Ekness departed Sunday’s game with two outs in the bottom of the third inning just shy of 40 pitches and still leading 3-1.

After the game, Head Coach Todd Whitting explained the early departure of Ekness. “Today was a good prep day for Ekness with regard to his routine to start next weekend,” Whitting said. “He was on a very low pitch count as today was more about mindset and preparation.”

With Houston leading 3-2 in the top of the eighth inning, Lott tripled to lead off the frame, it was Lott’s fourth hit of the game batting in the leadoff spot . . . Arnold plated Lott on a sacrifice fly hit to center field . . . Lopez followed with a solo home run over the tall right field wall in US Bank Stadium’s makeshift baseball setup and the Cougars took a 5-2 lead needing just six more outs.

A combination of pitchers followed Ekness after he left the game including Tommy Egan, Dan Wright, Brendan O’Donnell, Nick Ayers, and Justin Murray . . . Murray closed out the Gophers in the bottom of the ninth inning by striking out all three batters he faced.

Houston pitching allowed six runs over the entire three-game series in Minneapolis, two runs in each game.

Coach Whitting heaped praise on the entire team after the game, “Proud of the team for grinding out a road sweep.” And on Lott’s day at the plate Whitting added, “Lott showed what he is capable of every day. He has the ability to beat you with his bat and his speed.”

The Cougars are traveling home after Sunday’s game . . . Houston will then turn around and travel to Lake Charles, Louisiana on Tuesday to face McNeese at 6pm . . . The Cougars will then return home to host Southern on Wednesday night at Schroeder Park.

Houston Rallies in Final Frames to Take Series

Houston rallied for two runs in the ninth inning and two more in the tenth inning to earn a 4-2 victory in ten innings on Saturday afternoon at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Right-hander Paul Schmitz made his second consecutive Saturday start for Houston and was really sharp despite two solo home runs, the only runs he allowed . . . Schmitz tossed 6 2/3 innings, the second day in a row the Cougars starter has pitched until they had two outs in the seventh inning . . . Schmitz was working fast and was very efficient on the mound, only yielding the two solo home runs and striking out seven and he also retired eleven straight batters between the second and the fifth innings.

Houston was hitless in the game until a two-out single by Alex Lopez in the top of the sixth inning, but first base was as far as Lopez would get.

Minnesota starter George Klassen pitched 7 2/3 innings of scoreless, one-hit baseball before being relieved on the mound having baffled Houston hitters all afternoon.

With one out in the top of the ninth inning, Zach Arnold singled to begin a rally, also extending his games-reached streak to 17 games . . . Justin Murray then pinch-hit for Alex Lopez and hit a game-tying two-run home run over the left field wall.

Still tied in the tenth inning, Ian McMillan hit a two-out double down the left field line . . . Drew Bianco drove McMillan home with a double of his own, and that was followed by a Cameron Nickens double to give the Cougars a 4-2 lead.

Brendan O’Donnell, Cade Citelli, and Owen Woodward all pitched in relief over the last 3 1/3 innings and kept Minnesota from starting anything resembling a rally with Woodward recording the final four outs of the game to secure the series win.

Houston and Minnesota conclude their weekend series in Minneapolis on Sunday at noon . . . Expect to see left-hander Malachi Lott on the mound to start the game as the Cougars go for their first sweep of 2023.