The Houston Cougars were left out of the 2019 college baseball regionals . . . Given the upsets and irregularities that took place over the weekend, this is less and less of a surprise.
Following the selection process, completed just moments ago, the Cougars were the first of the four teams to be on the outside looking in . . . This means if the regionals had sixty-five teams, Houston would have been number sixty-five.
Alas, the 2019 season comes to an end and so do the careers of seniors Grayson Padgett, Joe Davis, Rey Fuentes, Ryan Randel, and Nolan Bond . . . Work toward 2020 begins now . . . Jared Triolo might be done as a Cougar if he is drafted next week . . . And Houston has new incoming talent, not only in 2020 but in the years after it, this talent can be seen at all levels of the Texas high school baseball playoffs still ongoing. –
The American Conference Championship got underway Tuesday morning in Clearwater, Florida with the first pitch between the UConn Huskies and the Houston Cougars . . . The ability for any team to determine its path can be realized by just playing one game at a time, keep winning, you keep playing, lose a game, and the slope becomes much steeper to climb.
Houston sent Lael Lockhart Jr. to the mound for the morning start, and Lockhart seemed to have adapted well . . . A mistake by Lockhart in the second inning found its way to the left field seats, but Lockhart was very much in control scattering just four other hits through six innings of work as Lockhart took the game into the seventh inning.
Trailing 2-0 in the fourth, Jared Triolo got the Cougars on the scoreboard with a no-doubter to left to cut the lead to 2-1 . . . The homerun was part of a 2-for-4 morning for Triolo . . . Joe Davis evened the score at two with a solo homerun of his own to left-center in the top of the sixth inning.
The Cougars took the lead in the top of the seventh when Kobe Hyland singled home Grayson Padgett to make the score 3-2 . . . Padgett had reached base when he was hit by a pitch and then stole second.
In the bottom of the seventh Lockhart surrendered his fifth and final hit, a homerun to left, which tied the game at three . . . Sean Bretz entered the game and eventually ended the inning, making way for Fred Villarreal . . . Villarreal pitched a scoreless eighth sending the tied ballgame to the ninth.
Houston loaded the bases in the top of the ninth but could not push a run across . . . In the bottom of the ninth, a leadoff single would eventually end up on second, and that run would be driven home by UConn third baseman David Langer with a single to center off of Villarreal to give the Huskies a 4-3 win.
The Cougars will play Wednesday at 2pm Houston time, the opponent is not yet known, but it will be the loser of the East Carolina and Wichita State game which starts forty-seven minutes after the Cougars game ended, so we will know the opponent soon enough. –
For the UCF Knights and the Houston Cougars, fifty-four games would not quite be enough to put the finishing touch on the 2019 regular season . . . The Knights and the Cougars went ahead and played eleven innings on Saturday night in Orlando.
The Cougars fail behind early, and the lesson is clear, digging yourself too deep a hole almost never works out . . . UCF was leading 7-1 by the end of the third and nothing in the Houston offense this week indicated that a comeback was possible . . . However, in the top of the fourth the Cougars put together a rally on a series of two-out two-RBI hits to plate four in the inning and get back into the game 7-5.
In the seventh, the Cougars tied the game at eight capped off by a two-RBI single to left by Joe Davis who batted with the bases loaded after having been intentionally walked three times up to that point (he would also be intentionally walked in the ninth).
The Knights got two runs back in the bottom of the seventh to take a 10-8 lead . . . In the top of the ninth, with Jared Triolo stealing third and Landon Etzel stealing second, the UCF catcher launched his throw into left field . . . Triolo scored easily, and Etzel just barely beat the throw home to score all the way from first on the play and tie the game at ten.
UCF finally broke through in the eleventh when they loaded the bases after an intentional pass and with the infield playing in with one out, a pop fly to left was just out of the reach of a hustling Blake Way, the ball fell in and the winning run crossed the plate for the Knights.
The 11-10 regular season-ending affair lasted just over five hours and the Cougars used six pitchers and plenty of bench players in the effort . . . Of the six pitchers used, Fred Villarreal who pitched two innings, was the only pitcher not to allow a run . . . Houston also left eighteen runners in scoring position . . . The big comebacks are always difficult, so much energy is expended getting the game back to even, that often nothing is left for what comes next.
The Cougars are off until Tuesday morning when they will open the American Conference tournament against UConn in Clearwater, Florida . . . First pitch is at 8am Houston time. –
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. –
The season’s final series of the year got underway on Thursday evening in Orlando, Florida as the University of Central Florida Knights hosted the Houston Cougars . . . The Knights and the Cougars entered Thursday with relatively equal records overall, both in and out of conference.
Knights starter Grant Schuermann had the Cougars solved early on it seemed . . . Houston had a runner reach third only once, in the fourth inning . . . Schuermann went eight scoreless innings allowing only four Cougars hits.
Lael Lockhart Jr. was a tough-luck loser on the night, he pitched reasonably well and was not hit very hard . . . A pop foul that should have been caught by either Kyle Lovelace or Joe Davis was instead a second chance for catcher Dallas Beaver, who then walked, and would eventually score, while there were also two errors behind Lockhart in the inning, an inning where the Knights scored three times to take a 3-0 lead.
Nolan Bond relieved Lockhart in the sixth and took the game into the ninth when Spencer Hynes pitched a scoreless frame in his first game action since April 6.
Only five Cougars had base hits on Thursday, with Joe Davis collecting two of them in a 2-for-4 effort . . . The Cougars led off the ninth who two singles by Wendell Champion and Joe Davis, but they would remain on second and first respectively as the next three batters each went down on strikes and handed UCF an 8-0 shutout.
The final regular season series of the season continues Friday in Orlando at 5pm Houston time. –
Potential inclement weather canceled Friday night’s game between the UNLV Rebels and the Houston Cougars . . . Having decided the game would not be made up meant the two teams could stretch their lineups as needed with this brief two-game series.
The Cougars offense was in business in the bottom of the first after a Brad Burckel walk and a stolen base, then an intentional pass to Joe Davis . . . Derrick Cherry put a ball in play toward short that was too slow for the UNLV defense to turn a double play, when Cherry was safe at first, Burckel was the first run to score for the Cougars when he crossed home . . . After a Tyler Bielamowicz single, Rey Fuentes followed with a clean single up the middle into center field which scored Derrick Cherry from third to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead.
Lael Lockhart Jr. got his eleventh start of the season against UNLV, and he was cruising for the most part . . . The few times Lockhart faced adversity, he was quick to get out of it without any damage, in one instance Kyle Lovelace caught a popped bunt in front of homeplate and doubled-up the runner on first with a quick, accurate throw . . . In another instance Brad Burckel fielded a bouncing ball right on top of second base with a running bearing down on him, his throw to first completed another double-play behind Lockhart.
The innings pitched quickly stacked up as Lockhart faced only three batters in five of his innings pitched . . . Lockhart eventually took the mound in the eighth inning still maintaining his 2-0 lead.
Bryson Stott entered Friday’s action hitting .365 for UNLV, the highest batting average on the team and the team leader in homeruns with ten . . . Stott was 0-for-4, striking out twice against Lockhart who went 7 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball against a good hitting team that only got five hits off of him and struck out five times.
Devon Roedahl came into the game with two outs in the eighth to get the final out with two runners put on base by Lockhart . . . Roedahl induced a ground ball to short that Kobe Hyland handled easily to get the runner at first and end the inning . . . Roedahl returned to the mound for the ninth after the Cougars went down in order in the bottom of the eighth.
An error at third was followed by a deep grounder to short, Kobe Hyland was able to field the ball but unable to make a clean throw to Burckel at second as Kobe was falling away from the throw . . . Roedahl struck out the next two batters, then loaded the bases with a walk, he then recorded his third strikeout of the inning to end the game and secure the 2-0 win for Houston . . . Roedahl did not allow a hit in his 1 1/3 innings that earned him his fourth save on the year . . . Lockhart for his outstanding effort was rewarded with his fourth win as he loaded his ERA to 3.03 with his scoreless effort.
The shortened weekend series with UNLV concludes Sunday afternoon at Schroeder Park, first pitch is at 1pm. –
Sunday’s rubber game between the University of South Florida Bulls and the Houston Cougars featured starting pitchers named late in the series and the Cougars coming off of an impressive 7-1 win on Saturday night, after a close loss on Friday night.
Ryan Randel ended up getting the Sunday start for the Cougars and he pitched reasonably well . . . Randel would allow two runs in four innings of work, and he would also strike out six batters . . . Sean Bretz relieved Randel in the fifth with runners on and was lights-out, hitting 95mph to stop the threat . . . And Bretz would go two more innings without allowing a run and keeping his team in the game.
Meanwhile, Alec Wisely was in command on Sunday as he went 6 2/3 innings and did not allow a run while giving up five hits and while allowing Cougars to reach base, he was not allowing them to cross home plate.
The Cougars would score all of their runs in the eighth inning after Tyler Bielamawocz and Joe Davis were hit on back-to-back pitches by USF reliever Nelson Alvarez . . . Derrick Cherry got a run home on an infield single and a throwing error . . . After a walk to Grayson Padgett loaded the bases, Rey Fuentes put a ball in play that the Bulls defense could not handle and the Cougars took a 3-2 lead on the fielders choice.
Devon Roedahl entered the game and pitched a perfect eighth . . . After a scoreless top half of the ninth for the Cougars, Fred Villarreal entered the game to try to shut the door . . . The Bulls would not quit, and after a pinch-hit leadoff single and a popped-up bunt for the only out of the inning, USF would get a walk-off homerun from Alex Bello to win the game 4-3.
Despite scoring three runs, the Cougars offense left runners on base in seven of the nine innings, eight in total . . . Kyle Lovelace was 2-for-3 on the afternoon, joining Brad Burckel as the only other Cougar with two hits . . . Five Cougars collected the seven hits on Sunday.
The Cougars are headed back to Houston now and will be off until Wednesday when they play Rice at Reckling Park . . . First pitch is at 6:30pm Wednesday evening. –
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. –
The Houston Cougars and the Sam Houston State Bearkats took the final game of their three-game series on the road to Sugar Land on Tuesday night for a neutral site game . . . Having already played at Houston and at Huntsville this season, Constellation Field played host to the final game between the two schools this year . . . Having won the first two games of the series, Houston was going for the sweep on Tuesday night.
Jared Pettitte made his fifth appearance on the year for the Cougars, and his first since being hit on the arm by a hard come-backer to the mound on April 3. Pettitte made the start for the Cougars and showed signs of having not pitched in nearly three weeks, but he was also changing speeds well and getting good breaks on some pitches.
Cougars offense is doing it lately by putting the ball in play, not by hitting the long ball, and that continued on Tuesday night as they scored nine runs on twelve hits . . . Seven of the nine starting Cougars recorded at least one base hit in the game, led by Derrick Cherry who was 3-for-4 and Joe Davis who was 3-for-5, Jared Triolo had yet another multi-hit game going 2-for-4, getting the action started in the first with a single before eventually scoring the Cougars first run, followed by his second single of the game in the second inning . . . Joe Davis and Tyler Bielamowicz each had 3 RBI in the game.
An explosive sixth inning put the Cougars in the lead and also put the game out of reach for the Bearkats . . . After an out to start the sixth, Houston had seven straight batters reach base, and six of them would score on either singles or walks.
Cougars pitching did not allow a run after the 4th inning . . . Sean Bretz took over for Jared Pettitte in the fourth and continued his outstanding recent run of scoreless innings, going three more scoreless innings on Tuesday only allowing a hit and striking out four Bearkats . . . Brayson Hurdsman was also good over two innings, allowing just two hits and striking out two . . . Devon Roedahl made quick work of the Bearkats in the ninth throwing just eight pitches, six for strikes . . . Sean Bretz got the win, his first of the season.
With the 9-3 victory, the Cougars secured the season sweep and improved their record to 25-16 with a win over a quality program.
The Cougars hit the road now to play the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida . . . That series starts Friday at 6pm Houston time. –