Late Lyssy Homer Lifts Houston Past UCF to Series Win

Thomas Lyssy bats in the eighth inning Sunday in Orlando

As the clock ticked down on Sunday in Orlando with a time rule in effect for travel plans, Houston used their final inning at-bat to reverse a two-run deficit and win 12-9 against UCF to take their fifth conference series of the season.

The Knights jumped out to an early 3-0 in the bottom of the first innings thanks in some measure to the gusty breezes blowing around Orlando.

Trailing by three in the top of the second inning, catcher Anthony Tulimero led off the inning with a single . . . One out later, Malachi Lott doubled to left-center field to get Houston on the board.

Drew Bianco singled to lead off the top of the third inning and then advanced to second base on a wild pitch before moving to third base on a ground out to third by Brandon Uhse . . .  Zach Arnold delivered a one out RBI single to left field to plate Bianco and make it 3-2 . . . Alex Lopez was walked to put runners at first and second base . . . Tulimero then grounded to third base with what looked to be a double play ball, but the throw from second base to first base was wide, allowing Tulimero to reach base while Arnold crossed home plate as the tying run.

In the top of the fourth inning, a Thomas Lyssy infield single put him at first base with one out . . . Ian McMillan then drove a ball the opposite way over the right field wall for a two-run home run and a 5-3 Houston lead.

Houston starter Cade Citelli did not benefit from the wild winds in Orlando on Sunday, but he gutted out a tough start and took the game into the fourth inning before being relieved by Dan Wright . . . Wright completed two important innings and allowed just one run, three of his six recorded outs were by strikeout.

With the game tied at five in the top of the fifth inning, Murray reached first base on a one-out walk . . . Lyssy singled into right field to move Murray over to third base . . . A failed pick-off attempt of Lyssy at first base saw Lyssy get into a rundown between first and second base, but he delayed being tagged long enough to allow Murray to steal home with the go-ahead run, and Lyssy reached second base safely after the ball was dropped by the Knights first baseman after he had seemingly applied the tag . . . Houston took the 6-5 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning.

Murray worked a walk to lead off the top of the seventh inning and then advanced to second base on a wild pitch . . . Cameron Nickens pinch-hit for Malachi Lott and dropped a single into right-center field to drive Murray home and cut the UCF lead by a run to 9-7. 

Still trailing by two runs in the top of the eighth inning, the Cougars offense went back to work . . . Arnold led off with a single and Lopez followed that with a walk . . . Murray was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out . . . Nickens singled to left field to drive in two runs to tie the game at nine, his second hit in as many innings to with three runs drive in.

Lyssy followed with a monster blast to right field, a three-run shot and the Cougars took a 12-9 lead . . . The home run was Lyssy’s third hit of the game in a 3-for-5 day, it was also the freshman’s first in a Houston uniform.

The four-hour game ended after the bottom of the eight inning due to time constraints after Murray struck out what would have been the tying run at the plate with two Knights runners on base . . . Murray pitched the final three innings for Houston and earned the win to improve to 3-0 this season.

Head Coach Todd Whitting was quick with praise for Lyssy after the game on Sunday.

“It is great to see Lyssy doing the most with his opportunity,” Whitting said. “He has been a huge bat for us in the last few weeks.”

“Proud of the boys grinding out a tough weekend against a very good UCF team,” Whitting added.

The comeback win gave Houston its fifth conference series win of the eight they will play this season . . . This was the third conference road series win and the second straight weekend with a conference series win on the road . . . The Cougars finish April with a record of 12-6.

The Cougars (25-19, 10-5) return to action on Wednesday when they will play Rice at Reckling Park in game two of the Silver Glove Series . . . Houston leads the Silver Glove Series 1-0 and can take home the trophy for another year with a win on Wednesday or the following week against Rice, also at Reckling Park, on May 10 . . . Rice was swept at home this weekend by Dallas Baptist . . . First pitch is scheduled for 6:30pm on Wednesday.

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Cougars Roll 11-1 Over Memphis, Take Series

Cade Citelli was on the mound Sunday in Memphis to close out the series

Houston took an early lead Sunday in Memphis and never let the Tigers into the game as the Cougars rolled to an 11-1 victory and road series win.

With two outs in the top of the first inning, Justin Murray (5-for-5) singled in the infield to drive in a run . . . With Murray then attempting to steal second base, the throw from the catcher sailed into center field allowing another run to score for a 2-0 lead before Memphis even got to the plate.

Murray led off the ninth inning with a home run deep to left-center field, his fifth hit of the game and his fifth home run of the season and the Houston lead was back up to ten runs, 11-1.

Owen Woodward handled the final three innings of work after taking over for Citelli . . . Woodward allowed just one hit, a solo home run, but was otherwise flawless as he struck out four Tigers batters . . . Citelli improved to 3-4 with the win and Woodward earned his third save of the season.

Head Coach Todd Whitting spoke of his teams resilience after the series win.

“I am proud of our guys for bouncing back and winning the series,” Whitting said. “Citelli set the tone on the mound and the offense once again showed up in a big way.”

Whitting added, “We have had as much adversity in regards to injuries as any team I have had but they continue to play gritty baseball with a next man up mentality.”

The Cougars return home for a Tuesday night midweek game against Lamar at Schroeder Park . . . Houston then heads to Orlando to play a second straight weekend road series, this time against UCF . . . First pitch Tuesday will be at 6:30pm.

Houston Run-Rules Wichita State 17-3, Takes Road Series

Houston took the series win on Saturday at Wichita State

Houston clinched a series win on the road against Wichita State on Saturday in a decisive 17-3 run-rule victory.

Zach Arnold was bit by a pitch with one out in the top of the first inning . . . Arnold then moved to third base on a two-out single to left field by Brandon Uhse (2-for-3) . . . After a steal of second base by Uhse, Anthony Tulimero (3-for-5) doubled to left field to drive in both runners on base . . . Justin Murray followed with a single to right-center field to score Tulimero and give Houston a 3-0 lead in the opening frame.

The score remained 3-0 until the top of the fifth inning when Ian McMillan led off the inning with a single before he stole second base to reach scoring position with one out . . . Malachi Lott (3-for-5) then drove a single the opposite way into left field to plate McMillan and extend the Cougars lead.

Cade Citelli made the Saturday start for Houston and was really good in his outing . . . Citelli pitched five complete innings before being removed in the top of the sixth inning . . . Citelli allowed just one earned run on four hits while striking out eight and was in line for the win if the Cougars held on the rest of the way.

Leading 4-3 in the top of the seventh inning, Brandon Burckel was hit by a pitch to reach base before he stole second base ahead of a Drew Bianco infield single to put runners on the corners with no one out, forcing Wichita State to their bullpen once again . . . Arnold then drove a ball to the wall in left field for a two-run double . . . Alex Lopez immediately followed with a single into right field to score Arnold, but Houston was not done in the inning.

A walk to Uhse was followed by a RBI single by Tulimero setting the stage for a Murray three-run home run deep to left field . . . Burckel was hit by a pitch for the second time in the same inning ahead of walks to McMillan and Bianco to load the bases . . . Lott then drove a ball deep the opposite way off the top of the wall just about a foot or two from the foul pole for a bases clearing double.

Still in the top of the seventh inning, Arnold was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game . . . Cary Arbolida pinch-hit for Lopez and promptly drove the third pitch of his at-bat over the wall in center field for a three-run home run and a 17-3 Cougars lead heading to the seventh inning stretch.

The Cougars scored 13 runs in the seventh inning, all of them with two outs . . . Houston also sent 17 batters to the plate in the inning.

Owen Woodward took the mound for the bottom of the seventh inning and struck out all three batters that he faced to close out the victory.

After some travel woes caused the delay of the start of the weekend series and forced a doubleheader to be played on Saturday, Cougars head coach Todd Whitting had good reason to wonder what his team would do with three games to play in just over 24 hours.

“I thought the team was tough and grinded all weekend,” Whitting said. “After delays, we didn’t get to the hotel until 6am on Thursday, I thought fatigue caught up with us in game two [Friday] but we came out today ready to play from the first pitch.”

In all three games this weekend, the Cougars got five or more innings from their starting pitchers and had minimal need for the bullpen in what could have been a difficult short-term situation with both fatigue and over-use real possibilities.

“I have said all along we have a talented pitching staff and it would take us some time to get roles established,” Whitting said after Saturday’s win. “With LaCalameto and Phelps out, and Torrealba out until this past weekend . . . it took a little longer than we wanted.”

Lott and Murray each had four RBI in the Saturday win, while Tulimero and Arbolida each had three RBI.

Houston (17-15, 4-2) returns home after the Saturday contest and will next be in action on Tuesday night at Schroeder Park when the Cougars will host Sam Houston State . . . Houston will be trying to even the three-game Don Sanders Cup series after dropping the first game in Huntsville last month . . . First pitch on Tuesday night is scheduled for 6:30pm.

Houston Wins at McNeese 9-6, Plays at Home Wednesday

Cameron Nickens homered in the first inning at McNeese on Tuesday

After their three-game sweep in Minnesota, the Cougars returned home late Sunday before traveling to Lake Charles to face McNeese on Tuesday night . . . The Cougars topped the Cowboys 9-6 to make it four victories in a row.

The Cougars got on the board early on Tuesday night and staked starter Cade Citelli to a nice early lead, something Citellie has not been accustomed to in his earlier starts this season.

The second batter in the Houston lineup, Alex Lopez (2-for-3), drew a one-out walk in the top of the first inning . . . Cameron Nickens immediately followed with a home run to left-center field for a 2-0 Houston lead.

Still leading 2-0 in the top of the third inning, Lopez and Nickens hit back-to-back one out singles . . . Catcher Anthony Tulimero (3-for-5) hit a blast off the scoreboard in left-field for a three-run home run to give Citelli a five-run cushion.

In the top of the fifth inning, Justin Murray drove in two runs on a double into the left field corner and Ian McMillan brought him home on a sacrifice fly ball to center field and the Cougars led 8-0.

Citelli was cruising for the most part, striking out eight Cowboys batters over five innings, departing in the top of the sixth inning as he reached 90 pitches in his midweek outing.

The Cowboys got back into the game against the Houston bullpen cutting the Cougars lead to 8-6 late.

Back-to-back one-out singles by Tulimero and Nick Collins in the top of the ninth inning led to a sacrifice fly to right field by McMillan plating Tulimero and the Cougars led 9-6.

Murray took the mound in the bottom of the ninth inning and struck out three Cowboys batters to preserve the Houston victory and pick up the save . . . Citelli earned the victory with his excellent start, his first win as a Houston Cougar.

The Cougars (9-11) return home tomorrow to face Southern at Schroeder Park for their final midweek game this week . . . Malachi Lott, who left Tuesday’s game after his at-bat in the first inning due to a possible illness, is likely to start if his health is right . . . First pitch Tuesday will take place at 6:30pm.

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.

Cougars Fall Flat in Oklahoma Opener

Houston opened a weekend series with Oklahoma on Friday night at Schroeder Park

A forgettable Friday night found the Cougars on the wrong end of a 13-1 final score against the Oklahoma Sooners at Schroeder Park.

Cade Citelli got the Friday night start for the fourth consecutive week and was decent until he was replaced on the mound in the fourth inning . . . Citelli faced first inning trouble with the bases loaded and walked in the only run of the inning, and escaped without further damage.

Oklahoma right-hander Kale Davis was too much for Houston hitters over his six innings pitched . . . Zach Arnold accounted for the only Cougars run against Davis on Friday night, hitting a line drive over the left-field wall to tie the game at one in the bottom of the third inning.

Cameron Nickens was 2-for-2 in the game, the only Houston hitter with multiple hits accounting for two of the five total hits for the Cougars.

The Cougars and the Sooners continue their series Saturday evening at 6:30pm at Schroeder Park . . . Paul Schmitz is scheduled to get the start on the mound for Houston, his first start since joining the Cougars.

Cougars Dominate Utes 14-5

Anthony Tulimero is greeted at home plate by teammates after a fourth inning home run on Friday

The Houston Cougars opened the 2023 Kleburg Bank Classic in Corpus Christi with an offensive explosion at Whataburger Field defeating the Utah Utes 14-5 on Friday afternoon.

After an Alex Lopez single gave Houston a 1-0 first inning lead, catcher Anthony Tulimero tripled to drive him in and the Cougars took a two-run lead before the Utes had even been up to bat.

The Cougars added two runs in the second inning and led 4-2 going into the fourth inning.

Lopez doubled to get the fourth inning scoring started, his third hit in three at-bats at that point . . . One out later, Tulimero followed with a two-run home run to left field and the Cougars took an 8-2 lead . . . It was Tulimero’s first home run of the season.

Brandon Burckel hit a two-out solo home run in the fifth inning . . . Cary Arbolida got a pinch-hit appearance in the seventh inning when Utah went to the bullpen in the middle of a Malachi Lott at-bat . . . Arbolida hit the first pitch he saw for a run-scoring double and the lead was extended to 10-2, the first time this season Houston scored double-digit runs.

Houston starter Cade Citelli was removed from the game during his third inning having allowed two runs and was hampered with five walks in 2 2/3 innings pitched . . . Maddux Miller took the ball to end the inning and stayed in to record 3 1/3 scoreless innings where he also did not allow a hit.

With the Cougars leading 10-5 in the top of the ninth inning, Drew Bianco got  his first hit in a Houston uniform, a three-run home run to left field . . . Justin Murray added an RBI and the Cougars took a 14-5 into the bottom of the frame where Owen Woodward closed out the game.

Tulimero went 3-for-4 with a walk in the contest and finished just a double shy of hitting for the cycle . . . Burckel tripled in the ninth inning, the Cougars second three-bagger of the game . . . Houston had hit just one home run in their previous four games, a Brandon Uhse solo home run last weekend against Cal, but the offense accounted for three of them in Friday’s victory

The Cougars return to action Saturday night when they face Texas A&M Corpus Christi . . . Expect to see left-hander Kyle LaCalameto make his second straight Saturday start in the game . . . First pitch in Corpus Christi is scheduled for 7pm.

Houston Shut Out in 2023 Opener

Cade Citelli delivers the first pitch to open the 2023 season against Cal

The Houston Cougars opened the 2023 campaign with a 7-0 loss at the hands of the Cal Bears at Schroeder Park.

Cade Citelli marched through the Cal lineup in smooth fashion to open the season while also making his Houston debut . . . Citelli retired the first nine batters he faced and was perfect through three innings before things fell apart for him in a three-run fourth inning.

Cal left-hander Ian May went eight strong innings allowing just three hits to the Cougars and striking out seven along the way.

Alex Lopez hit May twice, the only Houston hitter with multiple hits in the game, and just one of two Cougars with hits against the Bears.

In addition to Citelli, Paul Schmitz, Travis Phelps, Owen Woodward and Graysen Dezek also made their Houston debuts.

Former Cougar Joe Davis, the all-time home run hitter in program history, was on hand Friday night to throw out the honorary first pitch prior to the game . . . Davis retired from baseball back in December after three seasons in the Boston Red Sox organization . . . Davis is back in Texas now, having returned to his hometown of Austin.

The Cougars and the Bears resume their opening weekend series on Saturday when the Cougars will send left-hander Kyle LaCalameto to the mound . . . First pitch is scheduled for 6:30pm.