Houston Advances to American Championship on Late Tulimero Home Run

Anthony Tulimero rounds third base after his ninth inning home run Saturday in Clearwater. (Photo credit: American Athletic Conference/Mary Holt)

Houston had two chances to advance to the American Athletic Conference Championship final on Sunday and they capitalized on the second one with a 9-6 victory over UCF on Saturday night in Clearwater.

In the opening frame of game one, Santiago Garcia singled into right-center, scoring Alex Lopez from second base and the Cougars led 1-0.

Brandon Burckel hit a one-out double off of the wall in left field in the top of the fourth inning, forcing the Knights to go to the bullpen . . . One out later, Lopez hit the first pitch of his at-bat over the wall in right-center field and the Cougars lead was increased to 3-0.

The Knights rallied and scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to take a 4-3 lead.

Ian McMillan tied the game in the top of the fifth inning with a two-out solo home run to right field . . . With the Cougars trailing 7-4 in the top of the seventh inning, McMillan hit his second home run of the game, a two-run shot to left field to get the Cougars to within a run.

Garcia led off the top of the ninth inning with a single into right field . . . Ryan Hernandez sent the next pitch over the wall in left field to tie the game at eight.

The Knights had an answer in the bottom of the tenth inning as they manufactured a run to walk-off as 9-8 winners, forcing a second game of the day to settle matters.

Houston jumped out to another early lead, this time with a three-spot in the opening frame . . . But the Knights answered right back with three runs in their half of the first inning.

Brandon Uhse stole second in the fifth inning and Tulimero drove him home on a two-out single to right-center field as Houston regained the lead 4-3.

After tying the game in the bottom of the fifth inning, UCF plated two runs in the sixth inning to take a 6-4 lead.

Houston tied the game in the top of the eighth inning when a one-out single by McMillian into left-center scored two.

Still tied in the top of the ninth, Tulimero hit a two-out three-run home run over the left field wall to give the Cougars a 9-6 lead going to the bottom of the ninth.

Jose Torrealba returned to the mound for the second time in the day to close out the victory that would send the Cougars to the Sunday championship game, and he retired all three batters he faced in the ninth after the hard luck loss in the first game walk-off loss.

Houston used seven pitchers in game two . . . Maddux Miller, Jackson Dannelley, Logan Clayton, and Torrealba all pitched a scoreless inning or more . . . Cameron Prayer went three innings at a crucial point and really helped stabilize things after a rough opening frame.

“You know, obviously any win is momentum,” Tulimero said after the game. “But we have a saying on this team, ‘if you sleep on the win, you’ll wake up to a loss.’ We’re gonna get in the clubhouse, celebrate a bit, flush it, come back tomorrow looking to win the championship.”

Houston will face East Carolina on Sunday morning, at 11am CT . . . A win on Sunday means a trip to a Regional next weekend, while a loss means the end of the season.

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Houston Walks-Off Memphis; Advances to Saturday at the AAC

The Cougars celebrate the walk-off win in shallow right field on Thursday in Clearwater (Photo credit: American Athletic Conference/Mary Holt)

Houston kept their season going by defeating Memphis 8-7 in the bottom of the ninth inning in Clearwater on Thursday night in the American Athletic Conference Championship.

Brandon Uhse (4-for-5) hit the first pitch of the bottom of the first inning over the wall in deep left-center . . . Alex Lopez (4-for-6) doubled down the left field line in front of Anthony Tulimero who hit a monster home run to left-center and the Cougars led 3-0 before an out had been recorded in the inning.

The Cougars added a run in the second inning when Lopez, attempting to steal second base, was caught in a rundown allowing Uhse to score from third base.

After the Tigers scored two runs in the top of the fourth inning, Uhse and Lopez led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a single and a double, respectively . . . Tulimero then delivered a double into left-center field to push the Cougars lead back up to four runs, 6-2.

A four-run top of the sixth inning tied the game at six as the Cougars used three different pitchers to get through the frame . . . Memphis then took a 7-6 lead in the top of the sixth inning.

The Cougars tied the game in the bottom of the seventh inning when a throwing error at third base allowed Brandon Burckel to score when the ball bounced into the Houston dugout.

Still tied at seven in the bottom of the ninth inning, Burckel led off with a single into center field and then he stole second base on a pitch that was up-and-in and delayed the Tiger catcher from making a throw to second base . . . Uhse was intentionally walked before a Lopez sacrifice fly to right field moved Burkcel to third base . . . Tulimero was the second intentional walk of the inning, which loaded the bases . . . Santiago Garcia laced a one-out single down the third base line to drive in Burckel from third base for the winning run as the Cougars walked it off 8-7.

The Cougars used six pitchers in the victory. Logan Clayton, Cameron Prayer, and Jose Torrealba all pitched scoreless relief . . . Houston out-hit Memphis nineteen to twelve in the game, and eight different Cougars had base hits . . . Houston continues to play solid defensively and did not commit an error on Thursday, while Memphis committed two errors.

“In that moment, it’s just going back to being a little kid,” Garcia said after the game. “Getting in situations like that, it’s fun. It’s really just taking a deep breath, enjoying the moment, trying to put a good swing on a ball, and whatever happens, happens.”

Head coach Todd Whitting has continued to reiterate that there are no roles right now, he and his staff are simply choosing players who they think can get the job done in certain situations, which is another way of saying it’s all hands on deck right now.

The Cougars now have a day off on Friday and will play their next game on early Saturday afternoon when they will face the winner of a late Friday afternoon matchup between Memphis and UCF . . . If Houston stumbles at any point, they know right now they have the luxury of needing to be defeated twice to be eliminated.

Houston Takes Silver Glove Series with 8-2 Win

Brandon Burckel bats in the second inning against Rice on Wednesday

Houston captured the Silver Glove Series against Rice with a 6-2 victory over the Owls at Schroeder Park on Tuesday night.

Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the second inning, Ryan Hernandez (3-for-4) and Ian McMillan (3-for-3) hit back-to-back singles to reach base . . . Brandon Burckel (2-for-3) delivered a two-out single into left to score Hernandez and tie the game.

Still tied in the bottom of the third, Anthony Tulimero grounded to third base for what should have been the final out of the inning, but the throw was low and the first baseman could not make a clean catch, so Tulimero reached on the error . . . Cameron Nickens with a single to center and Tulimero reached third base to put runners on the corners . . . Hernandez followed with a double into left field that drove in both runners to give the Cougars a 3-1 lead.

Ian McMillan then hit a home run to left field, his seventh of the season, and Houston led 5-1 going to the fourth inning.

Colby Casey replaced Houston starter Logan Clayton in the sixth inning . . . Casey was followed by Cameron Prayer and Maddux Miller over the next two innings.

Houston added a run in the sixth inning after Burckel led off the frame with a double and moved to third base on a wild pitch . . . One out later, Zach Arnold grounded out to shortstop and scored Burckel.

McMillan doubled to lead off the bottom of the eighth, his third hit of the night . . . The straight walks followed and a single to right by Arnold scored two more runs and the Cougars led 8-2.

Jose Torrealba pitched a scoreless ninth inning, retiring all three batters he faced, to close out the win which gave the Cougars the Silver Glove Series for the first time since 2018 . . . Clayton improved to 3-3 this year with the win. 

Houston (30-15) packs up and hits the road for another weekend road trip . . . The Cougars will resume conference action on Friday at Wichita State against the Shockers . . . First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 6pm.

Tulane Edges Houston 11-10 to Even Series

Kyle LaCalameto pitches against Tulane Saturday at Schroeder Park

Houston was edged out 11-10 by Tulane on Friday night to even their weekend conference series at Schroeder Park.

Tulane took a quick 2-0 in the opening frame to get the Friday evening game started.

Houston started the bottom of the second inning with three straight singles, the third was by Ryan Hernandez driving home Anthony Tulimero who had led off the inning with a single, Houston trailed 2-1 going to the third inning.

After a lead off walk to Brandon Burckel to begin the third inning, Brandon Uhse hit his seventh home run of the season over the left field wall to give the Cougars a 3-2 lead.

Trailing 4-3 in the fifth, Uhse (3-for-4) led off the inning with his second home run of the night, and his third in two nights, to tie the game.

Houston starter Kyle LaCalameto exited the game after five innings of work as his pitch count had reached over the century mark . . . Cameron Prayer took the mound for the sixth inning and retired the side in order in his only inning of work . . . Both LaCalameto and Prayer were long out of the game when this one was decided, so neither factored in the decision.

Still tied in the bottom of the sixth, Malachi Lott worked a lead off walk to open the frame . . . Ian McMillan then hammered the third pitch he saw over the wall in left field to give the Cougars a two-run advantage . . . With two outs in the inning, Alex Lopez singled to left field to bring home Brandon Burckel and Houston led 7-4.

Tied at seven in the top of the eighth, Tulane got to the Houston bullpen for three runs on a pair of home runs and took a 10-7 lead.

Houston answered right back in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game . . . After three walks loaded the bases with two outs, a wild pitch got the Cougars a run, but they still trailed by two . . . With runners at second and third, Tulimero (2-for-3) singled up the middle to tie the game at ten going to the ninth.

The Green Wave manufactured a run in the ninth to take an 11-10 lead which would stand up as the final score.

Houston and Tulane wrap up the weekend series on Saturday when the two teams meet for the deciding game with a 1pm first pitch at Schroeder Park.

Houston Wins 20th Game of 2022, Retains Don Sanders Cup

Tuesday night’s first pitch from Logan Clayton against Sam Houston State

The Houston Cougars retained possession of the Don Sanders Cup for another year after a late rally in a back-and-forth game, eventually winning 8-6 on Tuesday night. The win over Sam Houston State did two other things: It kept Houston a perfect 8-0 in midweek games this year, and it gave the Cougars their 20th win of the season after they won 19 games a season ago.

After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the first inning, the Cougars tied the game in the bottom of the inning when Anthony Tulimero grounded out to short allowing Zach Arnold scored from third base.

The Cougars took a brief lead in the third inning when Ryan Hernandez plated Alex Lopez with a two out single.

Logan Clayton started for Houston and handled the first three innings of work in what seemed like a bullpen game as the Cougars used six pitchers after Clayton, including: Jose Torrealba, Jackson Dannelley, Cameron Prayer, Taylor Parrett, and Kyle LaCalameto.

The Bearkats tied the game in the top of the fourth and took a 3-2 in the top of the fifth.

With two outs and runners on second and third, Malachi Lott put down a bunt toward short on a perfect line that no fielder was close to as Lott crossed first base, and Arnold scored the tying run easily from third base.

Still tied in the sixth, Brandon Burckel reached base on a one out bunt single . . . With two outs in the inning, Arnold landed a ball on Elgin Street, a home run measuring 411 feet, and the Cougars had a 5-3 advantage . . . Arnold was 3-for-5 on Tuesday night.

Sam Houston State scored three runs over the seventh and eighth innings to take a 6-5 lead.

In the bottom of the eighth, Brandon Uhse hit a three-run home run with one out to put Houston in front 8-6 . . . Ben Sears who handled the eighth inning, set down the Bearkats in order in the ninth inning to close out the victory.

Houston now has a couple of days off before opening up another American Athletic Conference weekend series on Friday, this time in Cincinnati . . . First pitch on Friday is set for 4pm.

Cougars Walk Off Winners; Claim Conference Series

Houston celebrates Sunday after a walk off victory

The Houston Cougars used a game-tying rally in the eighth and a walk off double in the ninth to defeat the Wichita State Shockers 4-3 on Sunday afternoon to claim the first conference series victory of 2022. 

Derrick Cherry was making only his second career start on Sunday, his first start came nearly two weeks ago up in Huntsville when he picked up the win and threw 121 pitches . . . Neither team had a hit in the game until a Shockers solo home run with one out in the third gave Wichita State a 1-0 lead.

Houston finally picked up its first base hit of the afternoon an inning later when Brandon Uhse (2-for-3) led off the fourth inning with a solo home run . . . The Shockers got the run right back with a one out solo in the fifth inning to lead 2-1 . . . Then a bases loaded hit batsman in the sixth pushed the advantage to 3-1 . . . Cameron Prayer entered the game with two outs and got a strike out to end the inning and leave the bases full.

Left-hander Kyle LaCalameto handled two innings of work between Prayer and closer Ben Sears . . . Meanwhile, the Houston offense was quiet against Shockers pitching; aside from Uhse’s home run, the Cougars only had two other base hits through the seventh inning.

Still trailing 3-1 in the eighth, Houston took advantage of an error and a walk to get traffic on the bases . . . Uhse singled home Samuel Benjamin and one out later Cameron Nickens (2-for-2) singled on the infield and a throwing error by the Shockers third baseman allowed the tying run to score with two outs.

Sears pitched a scoreless ninth to keep the game tied headed to the ninth.

Ryan Hernandez dropped a single into shallow left-center to lead off the bottom of the inning . . . A fielder’s choice on a Malachi Lott bouncer eliminated Hernandez from the basepath, but the speedy Lott was on first base . . . Ian McMillan drove a liner into right field which was misplayed by the diving right fielder, once Lott saw the ball get down, he turned on the jets between first and second and was able to score the winning run as the ball rolled to the wall.

Houston took the first conference series of the season after being shutout in game one on Friday night . . . The Sunday walk off was the first for the Cougars since May 8, 2021 when McMillan delivered against Cincinnati.

The Cougars have Monday off before they will host Sam Houston State on Tuesday night at Schroeder Park to conclude their current eight game homestand . . . The first pitch on Tuesday is scheduled for 6:30pm.

Cougars Tame Panthers 13-1 Ahead of Conference Play

Logan Clayton gets the game started against the Panthers Tuesday at Schroeder Park

The Houston Cougars remained a perfect 7-0 in midweek games this season as they won 13-1 against Prairie View A&M on Tuesday before opening conference play this weekend.

Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the fourth, Alex Lopez led off the inning with a double to the wall in left-center field . . . Anthony Tulimero then hit the first pitch he saw over the left field wall to put the Cougars in front by a run . . . Ryan Hernandez followed with a double to left field two pitches later . . . One out later, Ian McMillan flied out to center field and scored Hernandez to extend the Houston lead to 3-1.

Houston added a run in the bottom of the sixth on a RBI single by Zach Arnold and another run in the seventh to take a 5-1 lead . . . The Cougars put the game away in an eight run eighth inning where the Cougars collected eights hits, the big blow was a two out 416 foot home run to left by Hernandez, who was 3-for-4 in the game.

Logan Clayton started for the Cougars and handled the first two innings and allowed the only Panthers run of the game . . . The Houston bullpen sent six pitchers to the mound after Clayton, and no one surrendered a run . . . Taylor Parrett was impressive over two innings in which he struck out four of the six outs he recorded . . . Colby Casey, Jackson Dannelley, Cameron Prayer, Derrick Cherry, and Malachi Lott all pitched one inning in relief and 

Lott, batting lead off on Tuesday night, was 3-for-4 and reached base when he was hit by a pitch . . . Lott was part of the eighth inning onslaught when he doubled to the wall in center to drive in two runs . . . Another freshman in the lineup, Brandon Buckel, has improved quite a bit over the last couple of weeks after some early season struggles, he was 2-for-4 on Tuesday night and is now hitting .235 . . . Dylan Post was behind the plate on Tuesday, with Tulimero batting cleanup, and Post picked up his first two base hits of the season in a 2-for-5d effort.

Houston won 13-1 and knocked out nineteen hits against Panther pitching which sets a new high for the season, passing by two hits their previous season high from their game against UTRGV in February.

Houston’s pitching was a point of pride after the game for head coach Todd Whitting. “Very excited about the continued progress of our pitching staff,” Whitting said. “I feel like we have five solid starters fighting for three spots on the weekend. The back end of the bullpen led by Ben Sears has been outstanding.” Whitting added, “It’s great to see that unit come together under Coach Bunn”

The Cougars (17-8) have a couple of days off before they start conference play on Friday when they host the Wichita State Shockers for a weekend series, the first of six games against the Shockers this season . . . That first pitch at Schroeder Park is set for 6:30pm.

Houston Rolls to 13-3 Opening Win Over Catamounts

Malachi Lott bats in the 2nd inning Friday night at Schroeder Park

Houston opened its weekend series with the Western Carolina Catamounts with a convincing 13-3 win on Friday night at Schroeder Park . . . The Cougars scored ten runs over the sixth and seventh innings to help cruise to victory.

Jaycob Deese started on Friday night, having started last Sunday against Columbia . . . An error in the field led to the Catamounts taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the first.

With two outs in the bottom of the first, Alex Lopez was hit by a pitch to reach base . . . Anthony Tulimero doubled to right field and the throw home was not in time to catch Lopez for the tying run, and Tulimero stopped at third base . . . Tulimero was 4-for-5 Friday night and is now hitting .402.

Tied at one in the second, Malachi Lott hit his first collegiate home run over the right field wall to give Houston a 2-1 lead . . . After Brandon Burckel reached base on a two-out single, Brandon Uhse doubled off the right field wall to extend the lead to 3-1 . . . For Uhse, it was his second hit in the game, in as many innings, and he extended his consecutive hit game streak to eighteen games.

Deese exited after five innings having allowed just two earned runs.

With a 3-3 score in the sixth, the Cougars put up four runs in the bottom of the inning . . . After singles by Cameron Nickens and Lott were followed by a double steal, Houston added runs on a wild pitch and a suicide squeeze bunt by Burckel . . . Uhse (3-for-4) hit a two-out double to left and scored from second a few pitches later on a wild pitch . . . Zach Arnold then capped the scoring with a solo home run deep to left.

Houston added six runs in the seventh as things began to fall apart for the Catamounts . . . The Cougars took advantage of two errors and four base hits to extend their advantage to 13-3 going to the eighth.

Cameron Prayer (2-0) picked up the win with his two scoreless innings of work after Deese left the game . . . Logan Clayton and Colby Casey both handled an inning to close out Western Carolina and preserve the 13-3 victory.

The Cougars and the Catamounts meet again on Saturday when they continue the weekend series . . . Nathan Medrano will be on the mound for Houston, first pitch is scheduled for 6:30pm.

Cougars Get Strong Outing From Cherry, Lead Don Sanders Cup

Derrick Cherry looks in for the pitch against Sam Houston State in Huntsville on Tuesday

When Houston completed the three-game sweep of Sam Houston State to claim the Don Sanders Cup on April 23, 2019, no one could have foreseen that the next game in the series would not take place for nearly three years . . . The series resumed Tuesday night in Huntsville and the Cougars once again took control of the series with a 9-1 win over the Bearkats.

Derrick Cherry started on the mound for the Cougars and in his typical role as a reliever, it was easy to assume this midweek game was going to be a bullpen game, as was the case the last time Cherry started a game . . . The game played out differently.

Scoreless in the fourth inning, Alex Lopez and Ryan Hernandez both walked to get on base . . . With two outs, Cameron Nickens lined a ball the opposite way down the right field line to score both Lopez and Hernandez and the Cougars led 2-0.

Still 2-0 in the fifth, Ian McMillan (2-for-3) singled to lead off the inning and then stole second base . . . After moving to third base by tagging up on a fly ball to center, Zach Arnold drove in McMillan with a run-scoring single to extend the Houston lead, 3-0.

Houston further added to the lead in the sixth when a Malachi Lott single to right scored one run and an error by the right fielder allowed a second run to score and Lott ended up on third base . . . McMillan scored Lott on a sacrifice fly to right and the Cougars led 6-0.

The Bearkats got a run back in the bottom of the sixth and the Cougars responded with three runs on a two-run home run by Lopez (3) and a solo shot by Hernandez (2) and Houston led 9-1 going to the stretch.

Head coach Todd Whitting said of Cherry pre-game, “we’ll let him go as long as he can.” . . . Cherry was done for the night after the seventh inning and his 121st pitch . . . Cherry struck out nine and allowed just the one earned run . . . Brandon Uhse singled in the top of the eighth with two outs to extend his consecutive game hit streak to seventeen games.

Cameron Prayer came in to handle the eighth inning and retired the side in order . . . Patrick Dunn came in from the bullpen to close out the ninth inning and like Prayer, he retired the Bearkats in order to close out the 9-1 win and give the Cougars the advantage in the Don Sanders Cup series.

Cherry earned the win and is now 2-1 this season.

“Huge outing for Cherry,” Coach Whitting said after the game, “appreciate his effort the last few weeks with Coach Bunn and trusting the process.” “He was dominant tonight against a very talented Sam Houston State University offense.”

Houston has two days off before they welcome Western Carolina to Schroeder Park on Friday night for the final non-conference weekend matchup of the season . . . First pitch Friday night is scheduled for 6:30pm.

Cougars Defeat Cards, Extend Win Streak to Six

Jaycob Deese pitches to the Cardinals leadoff batter Friday

A five game winning streak was on the line Friday night at Schroeder Park as the Cougars welcomed the Cardinals of Incarnate Word University for a weekend series . . . Houston would put together another late offensive attack to eventually walk away 5-2 winners.

Jaycob Deese was on the mound for the Cougars, his first start of 2022, but his third appearance thus far . . . Deese was overpowering early in his appearance, striking out the side in both the second and third innings.

Samuel Tormos got the Cougars on the board first when he hit a solo home run to left field with one out in the bottom of the second, his first home run of the year . . . Catcher Anthony Tulimero followed with a single to extend his reaches base streak to all nine games to open the season.

The Cardinals tied the game at one in the top of the fifth.

Batting with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the fifth, Alex Lopez lined a single into right field scoring Malachi Lott, while Brandon Uhse was thrown out at the plate, but the Cougars regained the lead 2-1 . . . The Cardinals tied the game again in the sixth on a solo home run.

In the bottom of the sixth, Lott drove a ball deep to right and the Cougars took a 3-2 lead on the sacrifice fly . . . Uhse and Zach Arnold each followed with RBI singles to push the Cougars advantage to 5-2 going to the seventh.

Derrick Cherry took the mound in the seventh and delivered a scoreless inning . . . The Cougars then went to the bullpen again in the eighth in favor of Jose Torrealba . . . Torrealba pitched the final two innings and did not yield any ground as he closed out the 5-2 Houston victory and pushed the winning streak to six games in a row.

Left-hander Cameron Prayer picked up the win for his inning of work in relief, his first win of the season . . . Torrealba picked up the save, his first of the season, for his two innings to close out the win.

The Cougars host the Cardinals again on Saturday night at 6:30pm . . . Logan Clayton will be making his third start of the year for Houston.