Shutout in Orlando on Saturday

The story of Saturday’s game in Orlando, Florida between the Houston Cougars and the Central Florida Knights was told in the first inning.

The Cougars were set down in order to open the game . . . Then the Knights came to bat.

Central Florida hit a leadoff home run, and five singles followed while the Knights quickly took a 4-0 lead and chased starter Carter Henry from the game with only one out in the first, and the bases loaded . . . Left-hander Ryne Huggins was brought in from the bullpen, and aside from a hit batter that allowed a fifth run, got the final two outs and ended the inning.

Huggins got the game into the fifth, keeping the Knights from adding to their lead . . . Following a leadoff walk, Cherry relieved Huggins after 3 2/3 innings of hitless, scoreless baseball . . . Cherry faced three batters and got three outs to end the fifth, but the Cougars still trailed 5-0.

Cherry would depart after two innings of work, he did not allow a run or a hit and struck out one . . . A solo home run in the seventh would extend the Central Florida lead 6-0 . . . Cameron Prayer struck out the side in the seventh and Layne Looney pitched a scoreless eighth.

Freshman Samuel Tormos, batting in the two spot on Saturday, singled in the eighth to extend his consecutive games-reached streak to five games . . . The Cougars offense was unable to threaten the Central Florida pitching staff, collecting eight hits in the game, with no Cougars batter having multiple-hits, as they fell 6-0.

The Cougars and the Knights do it one more time tomorrow in Orlando, for Houston it will be game number 50 . . . First pitch will be at 3pm . . . Houston has not yet announced a starting pitcher. –

Houston Swept in Seven Inning Finale

The Houston Cougars continued to have few answers to the Wichita State offense on Sunday as the Shockers took the final of eight straight conference games in a run-rule shortened 13-2 victory.

The Shockers scored four in the first inning and added one more in the second to take a 5-0 lead while the Houston offense was scuffling.

Houston starter Ben Sears got the game into the third inning before giving way to Derrick Cherry with one out . . . Cherry stranded a runner at second to end the frame.

Adam Becker hit his first home run as a Cougar, a two-run shot in the fourth on an 0-2 pitch to cut the Wichita State lead to 5-2 . . . Cherry added a scoreless fourth, but Wichita State took advantage of some defensive miscues in the fifth and scored four runs, two of those unearned . . . Cameron Prayer replaced Cherry and ended the inning with the Shockers leading 9-2.

A Grand slam by Shockers third baseman Derek Shaver in the sixth made the score 13-2 . . . With runners on base and Prayer unable to end the inning, Colby Casey made his season debut and got a double play to end the sixth.

The Cougars were put down in order in the seventh and the run-rule ended the weekend road trip with a 13-2 loss . . . The Cougars only had five hits in the seven inning contest, Ryan Hernandez had two of those as he went 2-for-3 . . . The bottom four of the Houston order only had one batter reach base at all on Sunday, Ian McMillan, who singled in the third . . . Steven Rivas did not play on Sunday, he was out of the starting lineup against the lefty Spencer Hynes who got the start for Wichita State and went five complete innings . . . The run-rule shortened game is the second of the season for the Cougars, the rule also ended the final game in Norman against the Sooners three weeks ago.

The Cougars head back to Houston now to host East Carolina for a four-game weekend series starting with a double-header on Friday . . . First pitch in game one at Schroeder Park will be at 2pm. –

Hernandez Homers Three Times in Opener, Cougars Drop Twin Bill

Jaycob Deese offers up the first pitch in game two of Saturday’s double-header

The Mavericks of UT-Arlington took both games of a Saturday twin bill by a combined score of 20-14 over the Houston Cougars at Schroeder Park.

Before the Cougars came to bat in the first, they were already attempting to erase a 3-0 deficit . . . With one out, Luke Almendarez hit his first collegiate home run to trim the UTA lead to 3-1 . . . The Mavericks then added a grand slam in the third to increase their early lead to 7-1 . . . Carter Henry relieved starter Blake Schultz in the third.

In the Cougars half of the third, Ryan Hernandez hit a two-out three-run home run to draw the game closer at 7-4 . . . After the Mavericks added two runs in the top half of the fifth, Hernandez hit his second home run in as many at-bats, sending one 424 feet to cut into the UTA lead 9-5.

Hernandez hit his third home run of the game in the seventh, a two-run shot with Luke Almendarez on second after a one-out double to left-center . . . Almendarez (3-for-5) and Hernandez (3-for-4) were the only Cougars with multiple hits in game one, they each had three hits . . . Hernandez is the first Houston Cougar to homer three times in a single game since Connor Wong did it against Tulane in April 2017.

Carter Henry threw 5 2/3 innings in his appearance, allowing three hits and three strikeouts . . . Henry’s outing was a tremendous boost for the bullpen as he ate up a lot of innings after a short start from Blake Schultz . . . Tyler Bielamowicz recorded the first out in the top of the ninth when he went high on the left field wall to bring back what was sure to be a two-run home run, instead it was recorded as a long out.

Mavericks shortstop Josh Minjarez hit his second home run of the game with two outs in the ninth to give his team a 12-7 lead that the Mavericks would hold on to after a scoreless final two innings from the Cougars offense.

Jaycob Deese took the mound for the Cougars in game two, making his first start for Houston but his ninth appearance.

In the bottom of the first, Steven Rivas doubled to plate one run in giving Houston an early 1-0 lead. . . Will Pendergrass followed with a two-run home run to give the Cougars a 3-0 lead . . .For Pendergrass, it was his second home run in as many days and his fourth of the season as he went 2-for-3 and walked once in the second game.

UTA took a 4-3 lead in the fourth when a sacrifice fly to center scored a runner from third who had reached base on a double and then moved over to third on a groundout . . . Brad Burckel put the Cougars back in front when he hit a two-run home run off the scoreboard in right field to give the Cougars a 5-4 advantage in the fourth.

UTA tied the game at five in the seventh on a solo home run to center field as Deese’s night came to an end . . . Prayer relieved Deese after the home run and go three fast outs to end the frame . . . Prayer went 2 2/3 innings being replaced with two outs in the eighth by Layne Looney . . . Looney would add another inning of work, holding the Mavericks and keeping the Cougars within three at 8-5 . . . The Cougars mounted a two-run rally in the ninth but they fell a run short in the 8-7 Saturday finale.

The Cougars and the Mavericks close out the four-game weekend series on Sunday at Schroeder Park . . . Houston has not yet announced a starting pitcher, though with recent history it would be safe to assume right-hander Ben Sears will take the ball for Todd Whitting’s team . . . First pitch is at 1pm. –

Cougars Avoid Shutout Late, Drop Game 2 in Norman

Andy Belcik faces the Oklahoma Sooners Saturday in Norman, OK

The Houston Cougars had no answers for the questions the Oklahoma Sooners were posing on Saturday afternoon in Norman, Oklahoma as the Sooners took game two of the weekend by a final score of 19-1.

For the second straight day, Ryan Hernandez was not anchoring the lineup, still nursing an injury . . . Hernandez injured himself on the final play of last Sunday’s win in San Marcos, and has only had one pinch-hitting since then, that came on Tuesday against Texas A&M.

After neither team scored in the first frame, Oklahoma took a modest 1-0 in the bottom of the second on Houston starter Cameron Prayer, making his first Saturday start of the season, but his fourth start overall.

Things unraveled at that point when a four run third was followed by a five run fourth, both of which preceded a six run fifth as Oklahoma took a commanding 16-0 lead.

Oklahoma starter Jake Bennett went six strong innings allowing just two hits and striking out six on an efficient seventy-six pitches . . . While the Sooners bullpen kept Houston off the scoreboard, Oklahoma was adding to their lead on a three-run home run in the seventh to extend the lead to 19-0.

Houston finally got a run across the plate in the eighth when Brad Burckel singled to score Luke Almendarez from third to make the score 19-1 . . . Almendarez was on base after his second single of the afternoon, he was 2-for-3 in the game and the only Cougars with more than one hit.

Carter Henry pitched the seventh and eighth innings for the Cougars, he was the only pitcher that Oklahoma did not score on . . . Henry allowed two hits, as the Sooners collected twenty total hits on Saturday.

The Cougars will try to salvage a game on this road trip when they face-off against the Sooners again on Sunday . . . Ben Sears will be on the mound for Houston . . . First pitch will be at noon. –

Cougars Win Road Series, Improve to 10-5

Houston wins their second consecutive road series in San Marcos on Sunday

Pitching was not the name of the game this weekend in San Marcos, with the notable exception of Robert Gasser in his Friday night start, as the Houston Cougars left town with an 8-7 victory and a series win . . . Houston outscored Texas State over the weekend 29 to 25, a weekend which saw the wind blowing out on Saturday and blowing in on Sunday.

To get the game started in the first, Tyler Bielamowicz took a one out walk, then Steven Rivas singled to right on the next pitch moving Bielamowicz to third . . . Ryan Hernandez hit a liner toward shallow left-center and the Bobcats centerfielder made a sliding grab, but Tyler tagged-up and scored from third to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead.

Texas State tied the game at one in their half of the inning, also on a sacrifice fly to center . . . The Bobcats extended their lead in the third when they scored on a single followed by two a two-run home run by Johnny Gonzalez to give them a 5-1 lead.

The Cougars put together a multiple-run inning of their own in the fourth when they got singles from Ryne Edmondson, Will Pendergrass and Brad Burckel . . .  A bases load walk to Kyle Lovelace scored one . . . Brandon Uhse then worked a 2-0 count and Texas State coaches had seen enough from their starter, they went to the bullpen in the middle of the at-bat . . . After the pitching change, Uhse knocked a double into the left field corner scoring two and getting the Cougars to within a run . . . Tyler Bielamowicz tied the game at five with a sacrifice fly to center field.

Neither starter made it out of the fourth inning as Houston starter Cameron Prayer exited in the fourth and was relieved by Jaycob Deese . . . Deese ended the threat after inheriting a runner on first with no outs.

Four straight Cougar batters reached base to lead off the fifth inning . . . Will Pendergrass was one of those four, hitting a single to right that gave the Cougars a 6-5 lead . . . Kyle Lovelace then grounded into a double play that scored a run to make the score 7-5 . . . Brandon Uhse then drove a double into right-center to push the Houston lead to 8-5.

Meanwhile, Jaycob Deese tossed scoreless fifth and sixth innings, but got into some trouble in the seventh before being lifted for Derrick Cherry after three innings of work . . . A run scored on a bases loaded walk, but Cherry struck out three batters to limit the damage . . . Cherry then worked a scoreless eighth.

The Bobcats clawed their way toward a comeback in the bottom of the ninth, after plating on run on a single to left . . . Derrick Cherry then got a bouncer to Brad Burckel who started the game-ending double play as the potential tying run crossed the plate . . . Jaycob Deese improves his record to 2-1 with the 8-7 win and Derrick Cherry earned his first save of 2021 with his three innings of relief pitching.

In a reversal of Saturday’s loss, the bottom five spots in the Cougars batting order saw three batters produce two hits each and it accounted for eleven runners on base and scored seven runs . . . Brandon Uhse was 2-for-4 on Sunday with 3 RBI in the lead off spot . . .Will Pendergrass, Ian McMillan and Brad Burckel each contributed two hits to the road win.

The Cougars close out this road trip with a 3-1 record and have won both road series this season and improve to 10-5 on the 2021 campaign.

The Cougars head back to Houston now and have a day off tomorrow . . . Houston returns to action on Tuesday night at 6:30pm when they host Texas A&M at Schroeder Park. –

Houston Shut Out by Lamar

The Houston Cougars traveled to Beaumont on Wednesday to take on the Lamar Cardinals . . . Houston entered the game with a 6-1 record on the season, while Lamar was playing its first game of the season, the result of the first part of their schedule being cancelled due to several Covid-19 positives within its program . . . As such, Lamar put their number one starter on the mound to begin their season.

Matt Lazzaro took the hill for the Cougars in what was his first start as a Cougar . . . Matt went through the Cardinals lineup once and exited after two scoreless innings, having yielded one hit, it would be the only Lamar hit until the bottom of the eighth inning.

Sean Bretz took the ball for the third inning and tossed a scoreless frame . . . Cameron Prayer then started the fourth inning and would not relinquish the ball until the eighth inning when he exited the game with two outs, likely a matter of his pitch count at this stage in the season in his longest outing thus far . . . Prayer was outstanding and went 4 2/3 hitless innings with seven strikeouts, two of those strikeouts coming in the eighth just before his exit.

The Cougars collected a total of five base hits in the Wednesday evening affair, one of those came off the bat of Steven Rivas in the form of an infield single . . . Rivas was injured on the close play at first . . . After a brief pause in the game to attend to Rivas, he stayed in the game to run, but he exited an inning later, replaced by freshman Samuel Benjamin . . . Rivas was 2-for-2 before exiting.

Ryan Hernandez hit two singles in the game, and Brandon Uhse got a base hit in the ninth to extend his hitting streak to seven games . . . Those were the only five hits for the Cougars in the game as Cardinals starter Trevin Michael went the first five innings, and he the gave way to three Lamar relief pitchers who carried the load for the final four frames.

The Cardinals finally got to the Cougars bullpen in the bottom of the eighth, plating two runs with two outs and taking a 2-0 lead, a score which would hold up in the ninth and gave Houston just its second loss of 2021 as they went to 6-2.

The Cougars return home this Friday to host a weekend series with the Texas Longhorns, the first such series since 1996 when both teams were still in the old Southwest Conference . . . First pitch from Schroeder Park is at 6:30. –

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Cougars Win in 10, Improve to 6-1

The Houston Cougars offense had to settle for ten fewer runs than they scored on Saturday night in a record-setting performance, but with the help of outstanding pitching, four runs were enough to eek out a one-run victory in ten innings on Sunday at Whataburger Field.

Blake Schultz got the Sunday start for the Cougars and went four scoreless innings while his offense was also being blanked by the other side . . . Schultz received some aid from his catcher as Kyle Lovelace caught two runners attempting to steal second in the second inning, and caught another in the third to end the inning.

Schutlz and the rest of the Cougars pitching staff was being matched by Islanders starter Hayden Thomas who pitched into the ninth inning before being lifted, but not before he struck out twelve Cougars while only walking one and scattering nine hits.

Cameron Prayer picked up an inning of work relieving Schultz in the fifth and ended the inning without allowing a run . . . Sean Bretz took the mound for the sixth and kept the game scoreless . . . With the game still scoreless, Bretz started the seventh but left with the bases loaded and no outs having allowed the Islanders to take a 1-0 on a throwing error, a situation that Layne Looney inherited . . . The Islanders plated another run on a sacrifice fly to take a 2-0 into the eighth.

Brad Burckel finally got the Cougars on the scoreboard in the eighth when he hit a solo homerun with one out, his second home run in as many games and his third of the young season . . . The Islanders got the run right back in the bottom of the frame with a leadoff home run to make the score 3-1 . . . Ryne Huggins then entered the game and ended the Islanders attempt to pad their lead.

Tyler Bielamowicz led off the bottom of the ninth with a home run to draw the Cougars to within a run, part of a 4-for-5 Sunday for the Cougars senior . . . The Cougars loaded the bases with the help of a couple of errors by the Islanders defense, then Dylan Post grounded into a double play that scored the game-tying run . . . Derrick Cherry took the mound for the ninth and kept the Islanders at bay, sending the game into extras.

In the Cougars half of the tenth, with the customary extra-innings runner being placed on second, in this case it was Brad Burckel, Brandon Uhse doubled to score Burckel and give the Cougars a 4-3 lead . . . The Cougars took that lead to the bottom of the inning, Derrick Cherry again took the mound, this time with the aforementioned runner on second . . . Cherry picked up two strikeouts but loaded the bases with a walk and a hit batter . . . However, Cherry got a bases-loaded groundout to end the game in ten . . . Cherry earned the save in the 4-3 victory.

The Cougars have the next two days away from play and will travel to Beaumont on Wednesday to take on Lamar University at 6pm . . . The Cougars will then look to improve on their 6-1 record to begin 2021, before returning home next weekend to host the Texas Longhorns.

Cougars Improve to 4-0 to Start 2021

Cameron Prayer throws the first pitch Tuesday afternoon

The Houston Cougars scored double-digit runs for the third consecutive game on Tuesday while downing the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders 12-8 at Schroeder Park.

Cameron Prayer took the mound for his first start as a Cougar . . . Prayer’s teammates got him some early offense, plating five runs in the bottom of the second inning.

The scoring in the second began when third baseman Adam Becker hit a ball off the wall in left-center and two runs crossed the plate to tie the game . . . After an RBI single by Brad Burckel, Steven Rivas hit is third home run of the young season . . . Before the inning was over, the Cougars had re-taken the lead 5-2.

Steven Rivas was not done . . . After a home run by Brandon Uhse to lead off the fourth, Rivas hit another home run, a towering shot to center that cleared the fence to the left of the black screen in center . . . For Rivas it was part of a 3-for-5, 3 RBI afternoon, he has 8 RBI in the first four games.

Tyler Bielamowicz would hit a home run in the seventh that allowed the Cougars to re-take a five run lead 10-5. For Tyler it was his first of the season and part of a 2-for-3 afternoon . . . Ian McMillan continued to swing a hot bat going 3-for-5.

Brad Burckel homered in the seventh as well to extend the lead to 12-5. Burckel went the opposite way for his first home run of the year in a 2-for-4 effort.

A bevy of other Cougars pitchers saw some innings in Tuesday’s game, including Sean Bretz, Carter Henry, Ryne Huggins, and Dravin Barber . . . The Cougars offense scored a run in five of eight innings and pounded out sixteen hits.

Maddux Miller went 1 2/3 innings, struck out three batters, and earned the win for his work to go 1-0 on the year . . . Derrick Cherry closed the door in the ninth, after inheriting a bases-loaded and no outs situation, Derrick recorded three outs, striking out two batters, to lock down the 12-8 victory for the Cougars.

The Cougars hit the road now for their first road trip of the season, heading southwest to take on these same Islanders in a three-game series at Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi over the weekend, first pitch Friday night is at 6pm.

Cougars Open 2021 with Series Sweep

Blake Schultz opens Sunday’s game against TSU

The Houston Cougars continued their perfection against the Texas Southern Tigers Sunday at Schroeder Park with a 14-4 win, increasing the series record to 32-0 . . . The two teams began playing each other in 1987.

Blake Schultz took the hill for the Cougars in his first outing since coming to Houston . . . Schultz looked strong with good command as he struck out three and did not allow any walks over 4 1/3 innings in which he allowed a single earned run . . . Blake picked up the win (1-0).

In the third inning, Steven Rivas hit a two-run home run to right that traveled 460 feet to extend the Cougars lead to 4-0 . . . Four batters later Ian McMillan hit a grand slam to left to put the Cougars well in front . . . In addition to five RBI, McMillan also dazzled in the field with some incredible defensive plays, many at times when the team really needed them . . . In a post game interview, McMillan noted that he found the partially missing tooth of Luke Almendarez before the game today . . . Almendarez lost part of his tooth in a collision at home plate on Saturday . . . For McMillan, the partial tooth might be a good luck, it might be worth carrying around again to see if it delivers another five RBI.

Sean Bretz made his return to the Cougars after missing all of 2020 after Tommy John Surgery . . . Sean inherited a batter with two strikes already, and he dispatched the batter with a 93mph fastball for a one-pitch strike out . . . Bretz would strike out the next batter to end the Tigers fifth . . . Sean exited after another full inning of work.

Steven Rivas was not done as he doubled to the right field wall in the eighth, part of a 3-for-4 afternoon . . . Rivas is obviously happy to be playing again after having been unable to compete for 347 days prior to this weekend, “you feel like a little kid again,” Rivas said after Sunday’s game.

Tyler Bielamowicz came off the bench for the second day in a row to deliver for the team . . . Tyler hit a bases loaded double to left-center to score two runs, the final runs Houston would score on Sunday.

Derrick Cherry pitched the final two innings to close out the 14-4 victory for the Cougars . . . Derrick struck out one and allowed one hit as he threw twenty-six pitches in his two innings, he was also steadily hitting 93mph and topped out at 95mph.

The 32-0 series record against Texas Southern holds until the two teams meet again, 34 years of dominance by the Cougars will set a standard for all future teams, as will the combined runs in this weekend series win of 30-9 over the three games.

“I have the hammer right now,” Ian McMillan pointed out after the Sunday win, and referring to teammates Ryan Hernandez and Steven Rivas, the only other Cougars to lift the hammer so far this season he said, “they gotta get it back from me.”

The Cougars return to the field on Tuesday at 3pm against Texas A&M Corpus Christi at Schroeder Park as Cameron Prayer will get the start in making his Cougars debut, and other Cougars hitters will try to wrestle the hammer from Ian McMillan, and maybe a partial tooth.