Cougars Lose American Championship Opener

Houston Cougars Baseball

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. –

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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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Cougars Romp at Rice in Extras

Devon Roedahl faces the Rice Owls in the 9th inning Tuesday night. Photo by Cougars Beat.
Devon Roedahl faces the Rice Owls in the 9th inning Tuesday night.
Photo by Cougars Beat.

The Rice Owls had won six straight entering play on Wednesday night, and the Houston Cougars were coming off a series loss last weekend in Tampa, Florida . . . The first inning indicated that the streaks would continue, but there is a reason baseball has nine innings and sometimes a tenth.

Wednesday night got off to a shaky start as the Owls scored two runs on three hits and a hit batter . . . The got one hit in the first, and would not get another hit until sixth.

Right-hander Nolan Bond took the mound to start the second inning after Brayson Hurdsman started the game pitching only the first . . . Bond retired the first seven batters he faced as his breaking balls were finding the strike zone and his fastballs were finding the corners and freezing batters for called third strikes . . . In the bottom of the fourth two walks and a fielders choice in addition to a high pitch count after a long layoff ended Bond’s night after 2 2/3 innings.

Sean Bretz would relieve Nolan Bond in the bottom of the fourth and get the final out to keep the Rice lead to 2-0 . . . Bond’s outing was a welcome result after a rocky first inning for the Cougars, and it would be the first of four good outings for the Cougars bullpen in the game.

Houston was held scoreless going into the eighth, and after a leadoff strike out, things did not look to be changing . . . After Kobe Hyland walked and Kyle Lovelace singled, both moved into scoring position after a wild pitch . . . Jared Triolo, who had a great game defensively with plenty of opportunities, hit a clutch two-out double down the right-field line as he went where the pitch was thrown and even the score 2-2.

In the tenth, the Cougars managed to score six runs on only one hit, instead relying on six walks, an intentional walk, and a batter hit by a pitch . . . The single came when Kobe Hyland hit a two-out single to right to drive in the fifth of the Cougars six runs in the inning . . . In a game where the Cougars managed to score eight runs in ten innings, they did it on only five hits . . . Kyle Lovelace was the only Cougar with multiple hits as he went 2-for-4 and walked once.

The Cougars bullpen went nine scoreless innings after Hurdsman left the game after the first inning . . . The Owls only collected five hits in the final nine innings and the Cougars only issued three walks while striking out eight.

Devon Roedahl picked up his seventh win on the year after 2 2/3 innings of work at the end of the game . . . Roedahl struck out four and looked really strong all the way through the final out in the tenth . . . The Cougars improve to 27-18 on the season with the 8-2 victory, and they evened 2019’s Silver Glove Series, which will be decided with a third and final game in a little under two weeks down in Sugar Land.

The Cougars are off tomorrow and host University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) on Friday for a weekend non-conference series . . . The weather forecast is looking ominous so if you plan to attend any part of this weekend series, you will want to check for updates . . . As of now, first pitch Friday is at 6:30pm. –

 

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Cougars Drop Opener at USF, 5-3

Houston Cougars Baseball

The University of South Florida Bulls welcomed the Houston Cougars to Tampa, Florida on Friday night for the opening game of a weekend conference series.

Lael Lockhart Jr. got the Friday night start again and he looked crisp early, through the first two innings most of his pitches had been around the plate, many for strikes . . . Lockhart was also accumulating strikeouts early, when his night was done he had struck out eight.

The Cougars got on the scoreboard first, in the second inning after a one-out double by Rey Fuentes and a single by Derrick Cherry put two runners on when Kobe Hyland doubled to right field on an 0-2 pitch . . . Hyland’s double would be all the scoring in the inning as the Cougars took a 2-0 lead.

Derrick Cherry added to the score when he hit a one-out homerun to left-center in the fourth to put the Cougars up 3-0 . . . For Cherry it was his third homerun on the season and part of a 2-for-4 night.

The Bulls did not score a run until a one-out double in the fifth by Alex Bello scored a runner from first base . . . Lockhart seemed to be scuffling at the time as runners would end up on first and second with one out. But the inning would come to an end when Lockhart stuck out his eighth batter of the game and Kyle Lovelace would stop a steal attempt cold at third with a perfect throw and tag by Jared Triolo.

Lockhart would leave the game in the sixth with a 3-1 lead, but with two runners on base . . . Those two runners and one more Bull would score in the inning as USF took a 4-3 lead . . . Sean Bretz, in from the bullpen to relieve Lockhart, threw only nine pitches before being relieved himself by Devon Roedahl with a 2-2 count on a batter . . . Devon Roedahl eventually ended the inning after a fielder’s choice plated the fourth run for the Bulls.

Houston missed a prime scoring opportunity in the seventh when they could not get Kobe Hyland home from third after a triple led off the inning . . . After Brad Burckel reached first on a hit-by-pitch, Jared Triolo skied a ball to center, which looked like it would be a sacrifice fly to tie the game at four at the time . . . After the ball was caught, Hyland raced for home . . . Oddly, Burckel broke for second, and was thrown out at second before Hyland crossed the plate, so the double-play happened before the run scored and the inning ended that way.

The Bulls would add a run in the eighth on an Alex Bello two-out single to take a 5-3 lead into the ninth.

The Cougars went down quietly in the eighth and ninth . . . Houston did not score a run after the fourth and they only collected five hits in the game, one by Fuentes, two by both Cherry and Hyland.

The Cougars and the Bulls do battle again on Saturday at 5:30pm Houston time . . . Clay Aguilar is scheduled to make the start for the Cougars as they look to even this series. –

 

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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 Shutout ECU 2-0

The Houston Cougars face ECU Friday at Schroeder Park. Photo courtesy of @5_Coogs via Twitter.
The Houston Cougars face ECU Friday at Schroeder Park.
Photo courtesy of @5_Coogs via Twitter.

A potent East Carolina University (ECU) Pirates team came to Schroeder Park Friday night to face the Houston Cougars . . . The Pirates were sporting a 22-6 overall record and a 6-0 conference record, along with conference leaders in various catergories, and a pitcher who threw a perfect game earlier this season . . . Oh, and they had won ten games in a row.

Friday’s starting pitcher for the Pirates was Jake Agnos who has many credits to his name, including conference leader in strikeouts . . . Agnos was mixing speeds well, but his command was off and the Cougars batters demonstrated some incredible patience, especially on some mid-seventies breaking balls, many of them well off the plate.

The Cougars got on the scoreboard first with a run in the bottom of the first inning when a Rey Fuentes ground ball to second resulted in a throwing error by second baseman Brady Lloyd and allowed Jared Triolo to score from third.

Jared Triolo hit a one out homerun to left-center in the third inning to put the Cougars up 2-0.

Rey Fuentes made an outstanding defensive play to end the fourth when he went diving head first into foul territory down the left field line on a high fly ball by right fielder Alec Burleson . . . The ball kept drifting away from fair territory and toward the Cougars bullpen . . . Rey went diving, caught the ball, with his hair falling all over the place as he lost his cap, he fired the ball to Jared Triolo who then relayed the ball to second to get the runner who had been on second and was moving toward third on the fly ball . . . It was an amazing play by Fuentes.

Kyle Lovelace also deserves an honorable mention for his defensive work . . . Lovelace got two different runners trying to steal, one ended the third inning and on the other the throw was so early that Brad Burckel had to make sure to hold the glove and wait for the runner, rather than attempting to swipe at the sliding runner.

Lockhart held ECU hitless until the fifth, when second baseman Brady Lloyd reached base on an infield single . . . Lockhart was sharp all night, and ECU batters were hitting right into the Cougars defense, this also allowed Lockhart to be very efficient and maintain a low pitch count.

ECU’s Jake Agnos was quite good on Friday as well, just not quite as good as Lockhart. Agnos went 5 2/3 innings allowing two runs on six hits while also striking out eight . . . Agnos got his pitch count up early and when he exited in the sixth he had thrown 113 pitches.

Alec Burleson came to Houston leading the conference in batting average and went 0-for-4 on the night in the cleanup spot.

With two outs in the eighth, Lael Lockhart gave way to Fred Villarreal for the final out of the inning, which Villarreal got on a ground ball to Kobe Hyland . . . Fred returned to the mound for the ninth when things got interesting . . . A leadoff double was followed by a groundout that moved the runner to third . . . Then a walk put the possible tying run on first and brought the possible go-ahead run at the plate . . . But Villarreal continued to work and throw strikes, he got catcher Jake Washer to strikeout swinging before getting a weak grounder back to the mound for the final out to secure the 2-0 shutout.

The win was Lael Lockhart’s second on the year, and the save by Villarreal was his seventh, and the shutout was the first time this season the Pirates were shutout.

The threat of bad weather on Sunday has changed the Saturday schedule . . . The teams will play a double-header at Schroeder Park with the first game starting at 1pm, and the second game beginning about 45 minutes after the first game ends. –

 

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Cougars Top FIU in the 9th

Jared Pettitte's first pitch of the game against FIU on Wednesday at Schroeder Park.
Jared Pettitte’s first pitch of the game Wednesday at Schroeder Park.
Photo by Cougars Beat.

The threat of rain hung over Schroeder Park on Wednesday night as the Florida International University Panthers brought their shiny chrome batting helmets for the midweek matchup . . . The Houston Cougars countered with what has been a semi-regular formula for victory this year: A late rally, and a closer on the mound that is tough to score against.

A couple of wrinkles along the way told the story in this one though.

Jared Pettitte made his second consecutive Wednesday start for the Cougars . . . After a quick first inning where he retired the Panthers in order, striking out two, he gave up a leadoff homerun to the FIU clean-up hitter after he had fallen behind him 3-1. Pettitte brought a fastball and that was what right fielder Adan Fernandez was looking for and he sent the pitch over the wall in left-center . . . Pettitte would get the next batter to pop up to second.

Panthers first baseman Logan Allen then hit a lined shot off of Jared Pettitte’s throwing arm, the ball did not go far, and Allen reached first on a single and Pettitte stayed on the ground for a while as Cougars staff rushed out to check on the sophomore left-hander . . . Pettitte would walk off the field on his own, but he was in visible discomfort on his left side . . . X-rays would later show no break, we will know more in the coming days.

Ron Brown had the difficult task of relieving Pettitte under the circumstances and a rushed warm-up, and after yielding two runs and recording an out, lefty Spencer Hynes entered the game with two outs in the second and pitched an outstanding three innings, keeping the Panthers from increasing their lead and keeping the Cougars within striking distance . . . A bevy of relievers would provide scoreless, quality work out of the bullpen on the night, including Carter Henry, Brayson Hurdsman, and Devon Roedahl.

Brett Esau got a rare start on Wednesday in place of an ailing Kobe Hyland . . . Esau played third base which moved Jared Triolo to Hyland’s usual shortstop position . . . Esau had the FIU pitching figured out as he went 3-for-4 with two doubles down the left field line . . . And for his part, Triolo played short like he had been playing there his entire life.

FIU starter Christian Santana was touched up for four total runs before he left in the fifth . . . Santana was throwing hard all night, reaching 94 at one point, his command and consistency were off though, and that allowed Houston to continaully chip away at that early deficit.

The only inning where FIU actually did some damage on offense was in the 2nd, most of it after the injury to Jared Pettitte . . . Catcher Kyle Lovelace picked-off Logan Allen at second when Allen strayed too far toward third after reaching base on a double to lead off the sixth, this heads up defensive gem was a key out for the Cougars, it only goes down as a 2-6 on the scorecard, but it was a big play at the time.

Neither team would score in innings five thru eight . . . With the score tied at four, Fred Villarreal came in to the game to make sure FIU did not score in the ninth . . . Fred accomplished this mission on eight pitches.

In the bottom of the ninth, with one out Kobe Hyland pinch hit for Kyle Lovelace and was hit by a pitch, and one out later he would steal second . . . The Cougars were down to their final out when Tyler Bielamowicz singled home Kobe Hyland from second as Hyland had been moving on the pitch . . . Bielamowicw was 3-for-4 on the night with a walk . . . FIU pitcher Christian Dearman, in his second inning of work, had fallen behind Bielamowicz, and with Joe Davis standing on-deck, Dearman had to get Bielamowicz . . . The Cougars won 5-4, Fred Villarreal earned the win to go to 3-1 on the season.

The Cougars have tomorrow off and then they welcome East Carolina University (ECU) for a weekend conference series . . . First pitch on Friday night at Schroeder Park is at 6:30. –

 

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Cougars Take Finale in Memphis 4-3

Houston Cougars Baseball

For a while, it looked as though the Houston Cougars were doomed in Memphis this weekend . . . The offense was struggling, the defense lost seemingly easy fly balls in the sun which would lead to runs, and having lost both games of a double-header two days before, it was easy to assume the worst.

Nolan Bond got the Sunday start for Houston, only his second start of the season . . . His day ended in the fifth as he exited the game with the Cougars trailing, but still with the game within reach . . . Sean Bretz would be the first of five relief pitchers out of the bullpen in this game . . . Bretz was relieved two outs later by Tristen Bayless who got out of the inning, but the Cougars were down 3-0 and it would remain that way until the seventh.

Rey Fuentes was brought off the bench to lead off the seventh inning . . . Fuentes hit a homerun over the wall in right-center to get the Coogs on the board . . . The offense was not done in the inning though, Brad Burckel and Jonathan Thomas would both walk and Jared Triolo would bring Burckel home on a single, but Triolo was thrown out trying to get to second on the play, so the inning ended there with Memphis still leading 3-2.

Meanwhile, the Cougar bullpen was shutting down the Memphis offense . . . Brayson Hurdsman pitched an important 1 2/3 innings before being relieved by Devon Roedahl for 1 1/3 innings himself.

Houston would manufacture two more runs in the top of the eighth, one of which was Kobe Hyland scoring from first on a Joe Davis double to the wall in right-center to tie the game at 3 . . . Davis would score later on a fielders choice play at the plate that got away from Memphis catcher Jason Santana.

With the Cougars leading 4-3, Devon Roedahl made quick work of the Tigers 4-5-6 spots in the lineup to finish the eighth . . . After a scoreless Cougars half of the inning, Fred Villarreal was called in to slam the door shut on Memphis in the ninth, and he did just that . . . Villarreal retired all three batters he faced to secure the 4-3 road win for the Cougars, earning his fifth save of the year.

The Cougars are now off on Monday and they will be in Beaumont on Tuesday to take on Lamar before returning to Schroeder Park on Wednesday night. –

 

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Friday Twin Bill Goes to Memphis

Houston Cougars Baseball

Possible bad weather on Saturday in Memphis led to the moving of that game to Friday, which meant two games Friday at FedEx Park ahead of the weather . . . The Memphis Tigers grabbed big early leads in both games and that created situations where the Cougars had to come back from big deficits to make the games competitive.

This was made more difficult by facing a very good and effective Friday starter in Hunter Smith in game one . . . Smith would go eight innings and throw 117 pitches while striking out nine Cougars batters and only allowing three earned runs.

Devon Roedahl entered the game in the fifth to relieve starting pitcher Lael Lockhart Jr., and he was quite good, going the final 3 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball only allowing one hit.

Jared Triolo hit a solo homerun in the sixth, the Cougars first run of the game, as part of a 2-for-4 afternoon in game one . . . Brad Burckel, hitting in the eight spot, went 2-for-3 with a walk . . . Derrick Cherry hit a two-out two-run homerun to left-center in the eighth to make the score 7-3, and that would be the final score.

A grand slam in the first inning of game two once again had the Cougars playing from behind . . . But Joe Davis got the Cougars on the board and back in the game in the third with a three-run blast to center field . . . Kobe Hyland got in on the act in the sixth when he hit his third homerun of the season over the right field wall to tie the game at 4-4.

Ryan Randel settled in after the first inning and turned in a very good 5 2/3 innings pitched leaving in the sixth inning with the game tied . . . When he exited he had put runners on the corners and Nolan Bond inherited that situation . . . Two pitches later Bond had done his job, stranding both runners.

Memphis would get to Fred Villarreal in the bottom of the eighth for two runs and that would be enough to take game two on the day as the Cougars fell 6-4.

The Cougars and the Tigers will have a day off on Saturday and will face off again on Sunday at 1pm. –

 

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Cougars Come Up Short Against UConn

Lael Lockhart Jr. faces UConn Friday night at Schroeder Park. Photo by Cougars Beat.
Lael Lockhart Jr. faces UConn Friday night at Schroeder Park.
Photo by Cougars Beat.

The Houston Cougars opened conference play on Friday night when they played host to the Connecticut Huskies . . . Offense was difficult to come by for both teams in the conference opener thanks to both starting pitchers and all of three relievers between the two teams.

Lael Lockhart Jr. got the Friday night start again, a role he has settled into nicely it would appear . . . The fourth inning proved the decisive one after Lockhart got the batters down in order in the very quick second and third innings . . . Two errors would lead to two unearned runs, the only two runs UConn scored on the night.

UConn starter Mason Feole was difficult to figure out on Friday night . . . At one point he threw a fastball at 91, the next pitch changed speed and was clocked at 73 . . . Feole’s mix of speed and control had him sailing in his seven innings of work.

The Cougars offense put their lone run on the board in the seventh when Kobe Hyland led off the inning with a double and would score on some small-ball and some miscues by the UConn defense.

When Lockhart left in the eighth, reliever Fred Villarreal came in to record the final 1 2/3 innings, he retired all five batters he faced in another stellar relief appearance this season.

UConn went to their bullpen twice, but it was their third pitcher, Jacob Wallace, who really closed the door . . . Wallace clocked in at 97 in striking out Joe Davis to end the eighth and would get the Coogs out in order in the ninth . . . The Cougars matched UConn with four hits in the game, but UConn scored that one extra run and held on for a 2-1 win.

The Cougars and the Huskies return to action at 6:30 on Saturday night at Schroeder Park.

 

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