Shutout in Orlando on Saturday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cougars Continue to Struggle in Saturday Loss

Changing ballparks has not changed the outcome as the Houston Cougars continued to struggle against Wichita State Shockers in a 10-1 defeat on Saturday afternoon . . . After playing a Friday double-header on the Shockers home field at Eck Stadium, the action Saturday moved to a new minor league ballpark in downtown Wichita, but the song remained the same as the Cougars dropped their second consecutive conference series.

After not scoring in the top of the first, the Shockers got a two-run home run from Paxton Wallace for an early 2-0 lead on Houston starter Carter Henry.

A few wrinkles in the Cougars usual lineup offered some new looks, especially with Tyler Bielamowicz out with an injury suffered in Friday’s first game . . . Samuel Tormos got the start in left field, he reached base twice, once when hit by a pitch right on the helmet, and he also took a walk in his next at-bat.

Dylan Post handled catching duties on Saturday, giving Kyle Lovelace some time off after he caught parts of both games on Friday . . . Post doubled in the first . . . And Adam Becker played first base for the second day in a row and collected a base hit.

Henry lasted 2 2/3 innings and was relieved by Blake Schultz in the third . . . Schultz issued a bases loaded walk, but was injured on his last pitch and had to leave the game with the Cougars trailing 3-0 . . . Another bases loaded walk and an infield single added salt to the wound as the Shockers took a 5-0 lead by the time the third inning ended.

Not producing offensively, the Cougars pitching could not slow the damage as Hunter Gibson hit a grand slam in the fifth to give the Shockers a 9-0 lead.

Houston finally got on the board in the seventh when Ian MicMillian hit a two-out solo home run . . . Houston had six hits in the contest, all by different hitters, and McMillan’s home run accounted for the only run on Saturday as Wichita State starter Jace Kaminska pitched a complete game on 105 pitches.

Layne Looney pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh and allowed a run in the eighth as the Shockers took a commanding 10-1 lead which would hold up as the Cougars went down in order in the ninth.

The Cougars and Shockers play their eighth straight game against each other on Sunday in Wichita . . . Ben Sears will take the mound for the Cougars looking to make the best starting appearance of the weekend for Houston . . . First pitch Sunday morning is at 11am. –

Hernandez Homers Three Times in Opener, Cougars Drop Twin Bill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cougars Wallop Texas State 12-3 in San Marcos

Robert Gasser works against Texas State in San Marcos on Friday

San Marcos was the scene of a balanced pitching and offensive explosion from the Houston Cougars on Friday night against the  Texas State Bobcats . . . Texas State was fresh off a run-rule victory over top-rated TCU at Bobcat Ballpark in the midweek, while Houston entered the game after a 13-7 win in San Antonio on Wednesday.

Robert Gasser got his fourth consecutive Friday night start . . . A caveat, Gasser’s first start of the season in game won happened on a Saturday as a result of a weather cancellation . . . After a scoreless first inning, the Bobcats got on the board in the bottom of the second on a one-out single that gave them a 1-0 lead.

The Cougars offense finally got rolling in the third inning . . . Brandon Uhse tied things up with a double to left-center scoring Kyle Lovelace from first . . . Lovelace was on first as the result of a one-out single, one of two hits for Kyle in the game . . . Ryan Hernandez then singled to give the Cougars a 2-1 lead . . . Tyler Bielamowicz, who had reached base after being hit by a pitch, scored the third run of the inning on a wild pitch to give the Cougars a 3-1 lead.

In the top fourth, after singles by both Will Pendergrass and Ian McMillan, Brad Burckel tripled to right-center scoring two . . . A couple of batters later, Brandon Uhse brought Burckel home to score on a groundout to extend the lead to 6-1 . . . Houston batters were making Texas State starter Zach Leigh work, with high pitch counts and one particularly long at-bat by Brad Burckel in the third inning . . . As Leigh’s pitch count went up, so did the Cougars run total.

In the Houston half of the fifth, Ian McMillan hit a three-run blast deep to left-center to put the Cougars in front 9-1 . . . It was the third consecutive inning that the Cougars offense score three runs . . . “I thought overall that may have been the most complete game we played all year,” Head Coach Todd Whitting said after the game. “We just kept putting pressure on them all night.”

Gasser was cruising after the lone run allowed in the second inning, he tossed six complete innings, allowed just the one run and struck out ten, a new season high, which was previously seven strikeouts . . . Layne Looney and Ryne Huggins pitched the seventh inning in relief of Gasser.

Texas State got two back in the bottom of the seventh to pull to within 9-3 . . . The Houston offense then went back to work . . . With two outs in the top of the eighth, Kyle Lovelace singled to right-center . . . Brandon Uhse then hit a grounder that was fielded cleanly at short, but the flip to second was dropped and two were on as a result of the error . . . Tyler Bielamowicz then hit a ground-rule double to left-center to score one run, by rule a sure second run was not allowed, and Uhse was placed on third base  . . . Steven Rivas followed with his only hit of the night, a single to right plating two more runs and giving the Cougars a 12-3 advantage.

Jaycob Deese entered the game to start the eighth inning and threw two scoreless innings to close out the Cougars win . . . Robert Gasser picked up the win as the left-hander improved to 2-1. “He was again, pretty electric tonight,” said Coach Whitting of his Friday night starter. “He was outstanding tonight, I’m really proud of him.”

The Cougars offense scored three runs in four different frames on Friday night . . . Ryan Hernandez had three base hits and was one of the three Cougars with multiple hits in the game, along with Ian McMillan and Kyle Lovelace who each had two hits . . . Houston is now 9-4 in 2021 and has won the first two games of this four game road trip.

The Cougars and the Bobcats return to action on Saturday in San Marcos . . . Ben Sears will take the mound for Houston, first pitch is at 2:30pm. –

(Thank you to Houston Athletics for help with the Coach Whitting quotes.)

Houston Drops UT Series in Sunday Finale

Tyler Bielamowicz facing Texas in the 6th inning Sunday

For as well as the Houston Cougars played on Friday and Saturday, the final result in Sunday’s 8-2 loss at Schroeder Park was not indicative of the rest of the series, especially the pitching.

Texas got on the scoreboard quickly on Sunday, plating four runs on only one hit in an inning that included four walks and a crucial error with the bases loaded.

Will Pendergrass hit a one-out double in the second, and he was quickly advanced to third on a wild pitch . . . Moments later Ian McMillan brought Pendergrass home on a sacrifice fly to center to get the Cougars on the board as they trailed 4-1.

Kyle Lovelace led off the third inning with a hustle-double to left-center, he never slowed down on what could have been just a single . . . Lovelace then advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Brandon Uhse groundout to shortstop . . . The lead was cut in half to 4-2 at the end of the third.

Andrew Belcik and Carter Henry both provided solid efforts when they needed to . . . Belcik went 2 1/3 innings and Henry went 2 2/3 innings, the two were only separated by 1/3 of an inning by Sean Bretz . . . Overall the staff allowed ten walks and only seven hits on Sunday.

Cougars offense was mostly stymied all afternoon striking out twelve times and only garnering four walks and five hits . . . The three and four spots were 0-for-8 with four strikeouts against the Longhorns pitchers that kept them off balance.

Freshman Dravin Barber picked up his first collegiate strikeout in 1 2/3 innings of scoreless pitching out of the bullpen . . . Layne Looney followed Barber and pitched the final 1 1/3 innings to close out the afternoon for the pitching staff . . . A combined six pitchers pitched out of the bullpen on Sunday, a luxury somewhat afforded by the close games of the last two days and starting pitchers going late into innings both days.

A Texas home run in the top of the ninth increased the Texas lead to 8-2, the Cougars only sent three batters to the plate in the ninth, Sykler Trevino reached on a leadoff walk, but was erased shortly after on a double-play started by the Texas shortstop . . . The loss drops the Cougars record to 7-4.

Kyle Lovelace also threw out the only attempted base-stealer of the afternoon, continuing to remove runners from the bases . . . After the game, Lovelace was asked about his work, and he was quick to credit others, “I pride myself on defense, that’s what got me here.” “I wouldn’t be able to do the things that I do without the guys that we have on this team,” Lovelace said as he heaped praise on the pitching staff’s ability to hold runners by being quick to the plate, and the middle infielders being quick with tags.

“I thought for two games we competed like crazy. Like I told the team after the game, if we lose we lose as long as we play hard, but I don’t think we competed well today,” Head Coach Todd Whitting said after the loss. “We’ve just got to turn the page on this week.”

The Cougars have a couple of days away from game action as the new week starts, they head to San Antonio on Wednesday to take on University of the Incarnate Word . . . First pitch in San Antonio is at 6:30pm. –

Cougars Walk-Off Winners in 11 Over UT

Ben Sears throws the first pitch of Saturday’s game at Schroeder Park

The Houston Cougars took the field on Saturday afternoon having not scored a run since last Sunday in Corpus Christi . . . While runs were hard to come by on Saturday, the Cougars got one more than the Texas Longhorns did in an eleven inning thriller at Schroeder Park.

Kyle Lovelace drove in the first run of the game in the bottom of the second when he hit a two-out single to center to score Samuel Benjamin to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead . . . Lovelace was 1-for-5 on the afternoon but was again a vacuum behind the plate and caught the only Longhorn that attempted to steal a base.

Ben Sears worked 5 1/3 innings as he got the start for the third time this season . . . Sears only allowed two runs and struck out six and left the game as a would-be losing pitcher if things remained as they were . . . It worked out differently.

Ryne Huggins entered the game, after Layne Looney faced a batter, to get the final out of the sixth, but the Longhorns had taken a 2-0 lead at that point.

Samuel Benjamin had two hits in this game, a single in the second, and a two-out double to left-center in the sixth which led to Texas going to their bullpen for the first time of the weekend . . . Will Pendergrass welcomed the new pitcher by lining a triple to the wall in right-center scoring Benjamin and tying the game . . . Head Coach Todd Whitting mentioned earlier in the week that Benjamin and Pendergrass were the future of the program, comparing them to Rivas and Hernandez, the duo looked the part on Saturday afternoon.

Steven Rivas returned to the line-up after only appearing once in a one at-bat pinch-hitting role in Friday nights 1-0 defeat . . . Rivas was 1-for-5 with a single to right field in the seventh that looked to be part of a potential rally, but was foiled soon after . . . The Cougars again threatened when they loaded the bases in the eighth but that rally ended with a strikeout.

Jaycob Deese pitched three scoreless innings in relief to move the game along and he was dominating . . . Deese was consistently throwing 92 plus and ended his first inning of work on a 97mph fastball . . . Overall Deese struck out five and allowed both a hit and a walk and saw his ERA drop to 2.03 . . . Blake Schultz took the mound in the tenth and eleventh and blanked Texas in both . . . Discussing the bullpen’s effort on Saturday, Head Coach Todd Whitting said, “For those guys to come in and throw strikes like they did, it was huge for us to give us a chance to win that game.”

With one out in the eleventh, Tyler Bielamowicz hit an 0-1 pitch over the left-field fence off of Texas pitcher Aaron Nixon to send the Cougars home with a 3-2 victory . . . Bielamowicz was 1-for-4 with two walks on Saturday, but the one was a big one . . . After the celebration at home plate, Tyler was quick to heap praise on his teammates for the win, “Ben Sears pitched a hell of a game today. The guys coming out of the pen pitched a hell of a game.” “Benjamin and Pendergrass had some good late hits to get the rally going.”

Blake Schultz picked up the win to improve to 2-0 with his two innings of late relief work . . . Schultz has been the Sunday starter to begin the season, but having pitched on Saturday now, there is a change afoot for Sunday’s game, no decision on who will start Sunday has been announced yet.

Coach Whitting said after the game about the series with Texas, “That’s a resume builder is what that is. And tomorrow we have to get right back to it and keep building that resume.” “This is resume-building time of year and that’s why they’re on the schedule.”

The Longhorns and Cougars return to action on Sunday afternoon at 1:30 for the rubber match at Schroeder Park, both teams have scored just three runs each in the first two games . . . Asked how his team can win on Sunday, Tyler Bielamowicz said, “Energy. Sunday is all about energy.” –

Houston Cougars Sweep Opening Day Doubleheader

The Houston Cougars pre-game fielding drills Saturday at Schroeder Park.

Based on the weather in Houston just a handful of days ago, it is somewhat difficult to believe that actual college baseball took place at Schroeder Park on Saturday . . . But baseball did happen and the Houston Cougars took both games of a doubleheader with their neighbor across Scott Street, the Texas Southern Tigers by scores of 6-1 and 10-4.

Pitching dominated game one as left-hander Robert Gasser threw five innings and did not allow an earned run while limiting the Tigers to a single hit and striking out seven . . . Gasser got the win for his effort.

Steven Rivas and Ryan Hernandez did their part to support the pitching performances . . . The duo hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth to cushion the Cougar lead at 4-1 . . . Rivas went 2-for-3 in the game. . . Designated hitter Andrew Papantonis went 3-for-4 with two singles and a double, along with a stolen base.

Newcomer Junior College transfer Jaycob Deese was lights out over four scoreless innings to earn the save . . . Deese was throwing his fastball consistently over 90mph in all four innings he worked, and he was hitting 94mph on consecutive pitches at one point, topping-out at 95mph . . . Deese also dropped a pitch to 80mph to end an inning with a strikeout.

With the game one win, Houston improved to 30-0 all-time against Texas Southern, with one more game to play on the day.

Ben Sears took the hill for game two and though he got off to a rocky start, led by a defensive miscue behind him, he kept the Cougars in the game and ended up tossing five strong innings . . . Sears was consistently hitting 85-87mph, and hit 91mph at least once.

The Cougars offense really started to claw back in the fifth when they scored two to trim the deficit to 4-3 . . . With the game tied at four in the bottom of the sixth, Ryan Hernandez hit his second home run of the day to put the Cougars in front 6-4, it was his seventh home run in his first seventeen games as a Cougar . . . Hernandez was 4-for-4 in the second game with an intentional walk . . . In the seventh, Steven Rivas hit his second double of the game in going 2-for-3 . . . Tyler Bielamowicz contributed three RBI and continues to get on base dating back to his 2020 campaign.

Dylan Post got the start at catcher from game two on Saturday and went 3-for-4 with a walk, including a single in three consecutive innings.

Matt Lazzaro also saw his first action of the season, and he was relieved by Andrew Belcik who would pick up the win, neither allowed a run . . . Layne Looney pitched the final three innings for the Cougars to earn the save . . . Six of Looney’s outs were strikeouts . . . Lazzaro, Belcik, and Looney were all making their debut with the Cougars.

The Cougars upped the record to 31-0 all-time versus Texas Southern . . . The two teams play one more game in this opening weekend series, Sunday at 2pm at Schroeder Park.

Takeaways from 2019 Fall Exhibition, Game 1

Houston Cougars 10-16-2019
The Houston Cougars take the field for Wednesday’s exhibition game.

The Houston Cougars baseball team hosted the San Jacinto College Gators at Schroeder Park on Wednesday evening for some exhibition action . . . San Jac is one of three teams visiting the corner of Elgin and Cullen for an exhibition game this fall.

The Cougars have a ton of new faces this fall, and some familiar faces like Jared Triolo and Joe Davis are visibly absent.

Wednesday’s action was not a prototypical game by any means . . . After all, the two teams played a tenth inning for no real reason, other than the extra swings and the extra pitches . . . There was no official scoring of the game, and the scoreboard only displayed a UH logo during the game – no time, no innings, no lineups . . . the only way to know what was happening was to have kept score, and those scorecards were a mess for sure.

Transfer newcomer Ryan Hernandez got his Cougar career off to a great start, knocking two solid singles in his first two plate appearances . . . Hernandez is listed at 6’4″ and he looks like a sizable presence at the plate.

The Cougars used ten pitchers in the game, each pitcher went a full inning of work . . . Brayson Hurdsman, Carter Henry, Spencer Hynes, Isaiah Blaylock, Robert Gasser, Tanner Green, Reed Osborn, Nick Rupp, Tristen Bayless, and Layne Looney all got some solid work in against the Gators.

Layne Looney was notable among the rest of the pitching staff that threw scoreless innings, his pitches were phenomenal . . . Looney had guys buckling and looking helpless at the plate . . . The three that batted against him anyway, all three went down looking.

The Gators scored all three of their runs in the seventh inning, the inning was the only one where control was an issue, fours walks, three wild pitches, and a stolen base were only problematic when combined with a solid double hit to the left-field corner.

Aside from the two Hernandez base hits, Cam McMillan reached base with a single, as did Derrick Cherry after he was hit by a pitch in his first plate appearance . . . The Cougars only plated two runners . . . If an official score had been kept, the Cougars would have dropped this one 3-2, but again, this was a weird one to measure as guys batted out of order and the order went beyond one thru nine . . . Add to this the well-known fact that San Jac is loaded with pitching arms, and the Cougars faced many of them on Wednesday night.

The Cougars return to exhibition action on Sunday, October 27th at 2pm at Schroeder Park.