Cougars Win Behind Aguilar, Cherry Pitching

Houston Cougars Clay Aguilar 3-7-2020
Clay Aguilar faces the Arizona Wildcats Saturday in Tucson.

TUSCON – After dropping Friday’s first game in Arizona on Friday night, the Houston Cougars needed many things to change in order to win Saturday’s second game against the Wildcats.

Houston went down in order in the top of the first, and Arizona made Houston starter Clay Aguilar work, but they only managed a single run in the first frame, thanks in part to an alert play at first base by Ryan Hernandez. With runners on first and second, a groundball has hit to Kobe Hyland’s right at shortstop . . . Hyland fielded and threw to first to get the batter, but the runner from second never stopped running, he rounded third and Hernandez was able to get him at the plate and prevent the run from scoring . . . Score it a 6-3-2 double-play.

Both teams remained scoreless into the fourth inning when the Cougars manufactured three runs . . . Brad Burckel put the first run across on a one-out double that scored Hernandez . . . With the game tied, Kobe Hyland singled two batters later to score Steven Rivas and Burckel as the Cougars took a 3-1 lead.

That was the extent of the scoring Saturday night, for either team.

Clay Aguilar threw  into the sixth inning going 5 2/3 with 96 pitches. This was not a typical, crisp Aguilar start as he walked five batters and hit another, but he kept the ball around the plate and kept it in the ballpark as the Wildcats also collected eight hits.

Carter Henry entered and got a strikeout to end the inning, stranding an inherited runner at first. In the seventh, Henry loaded the bases and gave way to Derrick Cherry . . . Two pitches later Cherry got his first batter to pop-up in the infield, and Cherry made the catch to end the bases-loaded threat.

Cherry was not done yet . . . He would double to left-center in the top of the eighth, but he would be left on basepaths . . . Cherry would go the final 2 1/3 innings to earn his second save of the season . . . He was aided by an outstanding catch by right-fielder Tyler Bielamowicz in the ninth inning near the warning track in right-center, he had to go a long way to get the ball and he made it look easy.

Clay Aguilar improved to 2-0 this year with the 3-1 victory . . . Cherry threw 35 pitches, 25 for strikes in earning the save.

The Cougars and the Wildcats meet Sunday at 2pm for a rubber game in Tucson before the Cougars move on to Las Vegas for a two-game midweek set with UNLV to conclude this road trip. –

Cougars Top Texas State 5-1

Houston Cougars Clay Aguilar 2-29-2020
Clay Aguilar throws the first pitch against Texas State Saturday night.

After a high-scoring affair on Friday night which yielded twenty-one runs, the Houston Cougars and the visiting Texas State Bobcats played a lower-key match on Saturday night at Schroeder Park.

Clay Aguilar got the start on the mound and he faced the minimum in the first frame, ending the inning on a grounder to Kobe Hyland that he handled himself in turning the inning-ending six-three double play . . . The Cougars did not waste any time getting runs on the board . . . With one out after a Derrick Cherry walk, Ryan Hernandez tripled to the right field corner to score Cherry, it was a good piece of opposite field hitting to give the Cougars an early 1-0 lead, their first lead of the series to that point.

In the third, Steven Rivas hit a one-out double, and Ryan Hernandez followed with a massive two-run homerun to Elgin . . . Not to be outdone, one out later Ian McMillan followed with a homerun of his own, a solo shot to left to put the Cougars up 4-0.

Bobcats were kept off the scoreboard until the top of the fifth when a solo homerun cut the Cougars lead to 4-1.

Freshman Luke Almendarez led off the bottom of the sixth with a single, he would steal second to get into scoring position . . . Kyle Lovelace hit a one-out single to center that scored Almendarez from second.

Clay Aguilar started the seventh inning, but after a leadoff single, he was lifted in favor of right-hander Isaiah Blaylock . . . Texas State batters would have two hit by pitches to load the bases and the Cougars went to the bullpen again . . . Tristen Bayless entered the game and threw three pitches, all three for strikes, and got a swinging strikeout . . . Bayless departed with one out and the bases still loaded in favor on Carter Henry . . . Henry got two big strikeouts, one called, one looking, and he killed the Bobcats rally as the game went to the seventh-inning stretch.

The ninth inning saw Henry back on the mound and he did not allow the Bobcats back in the game . . . All told, Henry faced and retired eight batters, five on them by strikeout in earning his first save of the season . . . Clay Aguilar six innigs and threw eighty-nine pitches as he picked up his first win of the season in the 5-1 victory.

The Cougars and the Bobcats conclude their series on Sunday with a rubber game at 2pm, this is the last time to see the Cougars at home for nearly two weeks as the team heads to Rice, Arizona, and Nevada. –

Cougars Fall to Tennessee in Round Rock

Round Rock Classic Cougars Beat

The Houston Cougars and the undefeated Tennessee Volunteers came into the second day of the inaugural Round Rock Classic having both won their opening games on Friday at Dell Diamond.

The Volunteers got on the board with three runs in the first off of Houston starter Clay Aguilar . . . Those would be the only runs until the fourth when Steven Rivas hit a two-run homerun to get the Cougars within one . . . For Rivas it was his second homerun on the season.

Houston would tie the game in the fifth when Ryan Hernandez hit a one-out double to the warning track that allowed Kobe Hyland to cross the plate . . . Clay Aguilar exited the game in the sixth as his pitch count reached 96, he went 5 1/3 striking out five and only allowing two earned runs . . . Tristen Bayless took the mound and got the final two outs of the inning to keep the game tied at three . . . Aguilar’s outing was quite good in the long run, stretching his start into the sixth kept the bullpen from being taxed too heavily.

The Cougars then took the lead in the sixth after Lael Lockhart Jr. got his first hit of the season to lead off the inning. Lockhart Jr. would score from second on an Ian McMillan infield single and a throwing error . . . It would be the only run of the inning as the Cougars took the 4-3 lead into the seventh.

Things came unraveled for the Cougars at that point as the Volunteers continued to get runners on base . . . Tennessee scored three in the seventh and two in the ninth to take an eventual 8-4 lead. 

Houston went hitless in its final three frames against Tennessee pitching . . . Ryan Hernandez was 2-for-3 on the afternoon, the only Cougar with multiple hits, and he got his season average up to .400 . . . It is worth noting that while Tyler Bielamowicz was 0-for-2 in the game, he was hit-by-pitch in his first two plate appearances and he continues to get on base for the Cougars so far this year . . .  The 8-4 loss dropped the Cougars to 2-3 on the young season.

The Cougars close out their action in the 2020 Round Rock Classic on Sunday at 3pm against Texas Tech. –

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. –

Cougars Shutout UCF 2-0, Even Series

Houston Cougars Baseball

After a lopsided shutout on Thursday night, Friday night’s game between the Houston Cougars and the UCF Knights proved to be more of a taste of a series between two teams with nearly identical records.

Clay Aguilar took the hill for the Cougars and though he was laboring through long innings early, he was putting up zeroes and keeping the Knights off the board . . . He parted the game with a runner on but no outs in the fifth in favor of Sean Bretz, who subsequently ended the inning and pitched two scoreless innings on the night.

The game slugged along with base runners, but stranded base-runners . . . Neither team scored until the top of the seventh, and neither team scored after that frame.

Joe Davis would provide all the offense the Cougars needed on Friday night when he hit a two-run homerun to center in the seventh, his seventeenth of the season, and his first since April 12th at Wichita State . . . For Davis the homer was part of a 2-for-3 night, only Brad Burckel joined Davis with multiple hits in the game.

Fred Villarreal pitched a scoreless final three frames to earn his tenth save of the year . . . For UCF, this was their first nine-inning shutout of the season . . . Sean Bretz picked up the win, his second of the year . . . Clay Aguilar lowered his ERA to 2.65, which is an extraordinary number for someone who did not start the season as the “Saturday starter” but has moved into the role nicely.

The Cougars can claim the road series on Saturday when they conclude the series with UCF at 5pm Houston time in Orlando. –

Cougars Sweep UNLV with 9-2 Victory

Houston Cougars faces UNLV Sunday at Schroeder Park. Photo by @5_Coogs via Twitter.
Houston Cougars faces UNLV Sunday at Schroeder Park.
Photo by @5_Coogs via Twitter.

A sunny and hot afternoon with clouds dotting the sky greeted the UNLV Rebels and the Houston Cougars Sunday afternoon at Schroeder Park . . . The Cougars arrived winners of two straight, including a 2-0 shut-out of UNLV on Saturday night.

Left-hander Clay Aguilar started Sunday’s game and surrendered a run in the opening frame, Cougars would get it back quickly when Jared Triolo hit his sixth homerun of the season to leadoff the bottom of the first . . . For Aguilar, the looping single by Bryson Stott to leadoff the game was the last batter to reach base until the fifth inning, Aguilar retired thirteen straight Rebels in that span . . . For Triolo, the leadoff homerun was the first of five hits in the game in a 5-for-5 afternoon that included five RBI.

The Cougars started their half of the sixth with three straight doubles followed by a single, they would score two runs in the inning to extend their one-run lead to 5-2.

Clay Aguilar exited the game in the sixth with two outs and runners on second and third . . . Sean Bretz entered the game and walked the bases loaded, but clutch pitching left the bases loaded for the Rebels in the sixth and Bretz would work out of another bases-loaded situation in the seventh inning . . . Bretz went a total of 1 1/3 innings scoreless to bridge the game from Aguilar to Villarreal.

The Cougars offense scored two runs in four different innings on Sunday . . . The offense also pounded out seventeen hits and even though they scored nine runs, they had plenty of opportunities to score more runs leaving eleven runners on base . . . Every Houston starter got at least one base hit, with Derrick Cherry and Kobe Hyland both getting two hits, and Grayson Padgett got two hits going 2-for-2 off the bench.

Righty Fred Villarreal handled the final two innings of action on Sunday, entering the game in the top of the eighth . . . Villarreal retired all six batters he faced, getting four groundballs to help his cause, and he did it all on only eighteen pitches . . . Aguilar collected his sixth win on the year in his tenth start, he allowed only two runs in his 5 2/3 innings and struck out four.

The Cougars are off now until Wednesday when they face Florida Atlantic University at Schroeder Park . . . Houston takes a three-game winning streak into the midweek matchup . . . First pitch is at 6:30pm on Wednesday. –

 

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Burckel’s Bat Leads Cougars to Win

Houston Cougars Baseball

The great game of baseball typically gives you a quick chance to put bad things behind and move forward without dwelling on the one that got away . . . The opportunity presented itself to the Houston Cougars in Tampa on Saturday night after losing a could-have-been opening game of their series with the Bulls of the University of South Florida.

For the second straight night the Cougars would score first, and in the second inning . . . In Saturday’s version, Rey Fuentes reached base on a one-out single . . . One out later, Brad Burckel hit a triple to right which scored Fuentes . . . Burckel would score on a wild pitch that did not get too far from the plate, but Burckel committed to going home and made it safely to give the Cougars and starter Clay Aguilar an early 2-0 lead.

Houston would add two runs to their lead in the fifth inning after Burckel led off the inning with his second consecutive extra base hit, this one a double down the third base line . . . After Kyle Lovelace sacrificed Burckel to third, Jared Triolo singled him home to put the Cougars up 3-0 . . . A Tyler Bielamowicz single and a wild pitch put runners on second and third for Joe Davis . . . Davis hit a sacrifice fly to score Triolo and make the score 4-0 . . . For Davis it gave him 50 RBI on the year.

The Bulls would not get a run off of Aguilar until the sixth inning when a leadoff double would eventually score, and despite a single, Aguilar got out of the inning holding on to a 4-1 lead.

Cougars added a run in the seventh when Derrick Cherry singled to center scoring Kyle Lovelace from second . . . When the Cougars are playing well, there is incredible balance in their lineup . . . Unlike Friday’s game where the Cougars lost and only had three batters get hits, on Saturday the lineup saw seven of the nine starters reach base with a hit, and four of the nine starters had at least one RBI.

Brad Burckel was not done yet . . . With Jonathan Thomas on first, Burckel hit a two-out homerun to right to make the score 7-1 . . . This left Burckel just a single shy of the cycle in the game . . . Not bad for your eight hitter.

Clay Aguilar went 6 2/3 innings allowing just one run on four hits and striking out five . . . Fred Villarreal recorded the final seven outs of the game after relieving Aguilar, going scoreless in 2 1/3 innings of relief work and locking down the 7-1 win for Aguilar, who improves to 5-3 on the year.

The Cougars and the Bulls conclude their series with a rubber game on Sunday, first pitch is at noon Houston time . . . Neither starting pitcher has been announced yet. –

 

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Cougars Bounce Back, Win 3-1 Over Cincinnati

Kobe Hyland bats against Cincinnati on Friday at Schroeder Park. Photo by Cougars Beat.
Kobe Hyland bats against Cincinnati on Friday at Schroeder Park.
Photo by Cougars Beat.

A very windy afternoon with a cloudless sky greeted the Houston Cougars and the Cincinnati Bearcats for game two of their series Friday at Schroeder Park.

The ballgame got off to an ominous start as Clay Aguilar walked the leadoff batter. Then, he promptly picked-off the runner at first base for the first out of the game.

Part of the winning formula for Houston in recent weeks has included scoring runs early in the game . . . The Cougars returned to that formula on Friday when they jumped on Cincinnati starter Evan Shawver early . . . Jared Triolo worked a leadoff walk on seven pitches . . . Two outs later, Rey Fuentes lined a double all the way to the wall in right-center to score Triolo from first . . . Derrick Cherry hit the next pitch on the ground between the shortstop and the third baseman into left field, Fuentes was racing home from second and was going to beat any type of throw home, but the throw from left fielder Joey Wiemer was off and eventually ruled an error, which allowed Cherry to end up at second base.

The early 2-0 lead was just what the doctor ordered . . . Aguilar was able to pitch with a lead, he was changing speeds well, and he was getting his fastball high and low and got some ugly swings from Bearcat batters.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati’s Evan Shawver was on his game, after the run-scoring first inning, Shawver struck out eight Cougar batters and had 1-2-3 innings fives times in the game in his seven innings of work.

Houston only had five hits in the game, two of them by Kyle Lovelace in a 2-for-3 performance that raised his batting average again, he now sits at .232 on the year, a marked improvement over where he was just two weeks ago, and he is batting .313 in conference play this season.

Clay Aguilar went 6 1/3 innings allowing just one run on six hits while striking out five . . . Sean Bretz entered the game to relieve Aguilar and serve as a bridge to getting the ball to Fred Villarreal . . . Bretz was clocking 94mph as he worked a scoreless 2/3 of an inning to get the Cougars out of the seventh . . . Villarreal started the eighth as he was once again called upon to get six outs on his way to a save.

The two runs in the first would be all the Cougars would get until they tacked on another run in the bottom of the eighth in what could have been an explosive inning after Jared Triolo was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs . . . The Cougars settled for one run on a ground-out to short by Grayson Padgett which plated Lovelace from third to give Houston a 3-1 lead.

Over his two innings of work, Fred Villarreal struck out two and only allowed one hit in earning his ninth save on the season . . . Clay Aguilar picked up his fourth win of the year with his performance . . . The Cougars evened their conference record at 7-7 with the 3-1 victory.

The Cougars and the Bearcats conclude their weekend series with a rubber game Saturday at 1pm at Schroeder Park. An Easter egg hunt for the kids follows the game, so get to the ballpark on Saturday and bring the kids. –

 

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Cougars Take Conference Series Over Wichita St.

Houston Cougars Baseball

Just when the Houston Cougars were getting accustomed to warm Texas weather, they went on the road to Wichita State and the weather has been nothing like the recent Texas weather . . . The game time temperature on Saturday afternoon was 53 degrees with wind and clouds . . . Fortunately for the Cougars, the bats stayed hot.

After an offensively balanced performance Friday night, the Cougars were up for more of the same on Saturday . . . Houston got on the board in the first when Rey Fuentes drove in Grayson Padgett on a two-out single, Fuentes had a single in his first two at-bats . . . The Cougars scored one in the second, and two runs in the third . . . All but two Cougars starters got a hit in the game, the Cougars had twelve hits in the game, and they scored in five of the nine frames.

Clay Aguilar went 5 1/3 innings allowing two runs on three hits and striking out seven . . . For Aguilar it was another nice Saturday outing after having mostly been a midweek starter or a reliever . . . Devon Roedahl relieved Aguilar in the sixth and got the final two outs to end the minor threat from the Shockers.

Wichita State starter Liam Eddy had a rough first three innings, but settled down after that to quiet the Cougars bats for four innings, but Houston got to him once again in the eighth when with two outs Kobe Hyland doubled to right, one pitch later Brad Burckel singled to right and the throw home to try to catch Hyland allowed Burckel to get to second, as the Cougars took the 5-2 lead, Eddy’s day was done.

Kyle Lovelace greeted the pitching change with an infield single that the shortstop was unable to get a handle on, Burckel was moving on contact with two outs and never stopped running and would score on the play to put Houston up 6-2 . . . Lovelace was 3-for-3 with a sacrifice bunt, a nice job for the ninth batter in the lineup . . . The Cougars manufactured another run in the ninth, taking advantage of two walks and a single that loaded the bases, they only got one run out of it, but it made the score 7-3 going to the bottom of the ninth.

Roedahl would go 2 1/3 innings before giving the baseball to Fred Villarreal with two outs on the eighth . . . Villarreal recorded the final four outs and secured the victory and the series win for the Cougars . . . The 7-3 win was Clay Aguilar’s third win of the season, and it was the 20th win on the year for the Cougars.

Houston and Wichita State conclude their weekend series at noon on Sunday in Wichita. –

 

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Cougars Drop Two to ECU

Houston's Sean Bretz delivers a pitch against ECU Saturday. Photo by Cougars Beat.
Houston’s Sean Bretz delivers a pitch against ECU Saturday.
Photo by Cougars Beat.

After being shutout 2-0 on Friday, ECU with their national ranking and potent offense came out firing on all cylinders in game one on Saturday at Schroeder Park . . . First baseman Spencer Brickhouse hit a two-run homerun in the top of the first, and he would follow that with a grand slam in the sixth . . . Brickhouse left the game after the sixth with 6 RBI . . . The Pirates offense pounded out fourteen hits and benefitted from ten walks on their way to scoring fifteen runs.

Friday night pitching hero Lael Lockhart Jr. hit an opposite-field solo homerun for the Cougars first run of the game in the fourth inning . . . Tyler Bielamowicz hit a two-out RBI double in the fifth to score Thomas . . . Jared Triolo’s seventh inning sacrifice fly RBI was the third and final run for the Cougars.

There was not much else in the way of offense for Houston on the afternoon as ECU starter Tyler Smith was in command in his five innings of work where he struck out five and allowed the only two runs the Cougars would score in the game . . . Jonathan Thomas was 2-for-2 in the early game, the only Cougar with more than one hit.

There was no rest for weary as the Cougars had the pleasure of facing ECU starter Jake Kuchmaner, one of the best pitchers in the nation, who also threw a perfect game less than a month ago . . . After a quick pop-up and a strike out in the bottom of the first, Joe Davis hit a monster homerun to left-center on the first pitch he saw from Kuchmaner . . . The 1-0 score would remain that way until the seventh.

Clay Aguilar got the start in game two for the Cougars, and on short rest after his Tuesday start at Lamar, Aguilar turned in his best performance of the year . . . ECU was held hitless until the fourth and they did not score a run until the seventh when designated hitter Jake Washer hit a homerun to left-center . . . The Pirates tacked on another run two batters later on a single which would also end Aguilar’s outing.

The Pirates pitching was too strong and aside from the Davis homerun in the first, part of a 2-for-3 night for Davis, Houston was completely shut down, only getting five other hits, two of those belonged to Rey Fuentes and Derrick Cherry who were both 2-for-4 in the second game . . . ECU pitchers also struck out fourteen Cougars.

The 3-1 loss saw the Cougars use only two pitchers, Aguilar and Devon Roedahl, who held the Pirates offense to seven hits and one walk while striking out ten . . . Not a bad performance by the pitching staff overall, one that would get a win on many nights.

The Cougars now have a couple of days off before they head up to Huntsville to face Sam Houston State for one game, the first game of a four game road trip. –

 

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