Houston Swept; Heads for Conference Tournament

The Houston Cougars and the Central Florida Knights closed out the regular season on Saturday with a briskly played, 2-1 game that the Knights won on their home field in Orlando.

Matt Lazzaro got the start for Houston for the second week in a row, his third start of the season . . . Lazzaro had everything working and he was cruising early.

With the game scoreless in the fourth, Tyler Bielamowicz hit a one-out single . . . Designated hitter Derrick Cherry then hit a liner toward the hole at second base into right field, Bielamowicz moved easily to third, but carelessness by the Knights defense allowed Bielamowicz to race home from third and just barely beat a throw home to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead.

The Knights tied the game in the bottom of the fifth when a double to left-center allowed a runner on second to score . . . Central Florida took a 2-1 lead on a grounder to short that plated a runner on third.

Matt Lazzaro’s day was complete after six innings, another great outing for the lefty . . . Maddux Miller replaced Lazzaro, and after two quick outs to start the frame, he was hit on his pitching hand by a liner off a batted ball . . . Miller tried to stay in the game, but he threw one pitch which sailed high and away, and he was immediately replaced.

Colby Casey had another nice outing for the Cougars out of the bullpen, he recorded the final four outs.

The Cougars offense never threatened further after the run-scoring fourth, the team mustered just four hits, two on them by Dylan Post who was 2-for-4 in the loss.

The Cougars head to Clearwater now and will play their first game of the American Athletic Conference tournament at 3pm on Tuesday . . . Look for Robert Gasser to start the game for Houston in the double-elimination tournament.

Cougars Preparing for Clearwater, Drop Two in Orlando

With four regular season games left that will not have an effect on the conference tournament match-ups next week, the Houston Cougars opened up a weekend series in Orlando, Florida on Florida . . . In facing the University of Central Florida Knights, Houston wanted to remain healthy, and they wanted their pitching staff primed and ready to go when the action gets underway in Clearwater on Tuesday when the American Athletic Conference tournament opens.

Robert Gasser took the mound on Thursday knowing a pitch count was in effect, no matter what.

With one out in the second, Brandon Uhse drew a walk, and stole second a few pitches later . . . One out later, Samuel Tormos delivered a single to right on the first pitch he saw, Uhse was safe at home on a throw to the first base side of home plate and the Cougars led 1-0.

After two innings, and twenty-eight pitches, Gasser was finished for the day having not allowed a run in his brief outing . . . Jaycob Deese took the mound in the third after having missed all of last weekend with a hamstring injury.

The Knights took a 3-1 lead in the fifth on a three-run home run to left field, but Deese looked good in his outing otherwise, spotting good fastballs and countering with some filthy breaking pitches throughout.

Deese worked into the seventh inning, exiting with two outs in favor of Maddux Miller . . . Miller worked the rest of the way for the Cougars, keeping the Knights from scoring in the final 1 1/3 innings.

The Cougars were kept off of the scoreboard after the run in the second, and they fell in game one by a final of 3-1.

Ben Sears took the mound for Houston with a different mission that Gasser and Deese had in the first game . . . Sears would be allowed to throw a seemingly regular outing because he will not be pitching as soon as the Gasser and Deese will be early next week.

The Knights got a run off of Sears in the first, but the run was unearned, nonetheless, they led 1-0 going to the second.

While Sears was cruising, Houston did not get its first base hit in game two until the sixth inning when Ian McMillian hit a one out single to center field.

Sears departed after six innings, having allowed just one unearned run to go with three hits and three strikeouts . . . Central Florida added a run on a one out base hit in the seventh increasing their lead to 2-0.

Tormos singled with two outs in the eighth . . . Ian McMillan singled to center, the center fielder mis-played the ball by diving for it and the miscue allowed Tormos to score from first to close the deficit to 2-1 . . . But the scoring ended there and the Cougars were defeated by that 2-1 final in game two.

The Cougars and the Knights return to action Saturday with first pitching at 5pm . . . Carter Henry will make the start for Houston. –

Houston Ends 2021 Home Schedule with Loss

Carter Henry tosses the opening pitch Sunday at Schroeder Park against Cincinnati

Senior Day preceded the series finale Sunday at Schroeder Park where the Houston Cougars fell to the Cincinnati Bearcats 10-3, dropping the series 1-3.

With two outs in the top of the first, Cincinnati collected a single followed by a two-out home run to left to take the early 2-0 lead.

Brandon Uhse led off the Houston half of the first with a home run to left field to get the Cougars scoring started . . . Houston tied the game in the bottom of the second when, with the bases loaded, Brandon Uhse drove in his second run in as many innings with a sacrifice fly to deep left -enter that scored Will Pendergrass (2-for-4) from third base.

The Bearcats re-took the lead in the fourth on a double to right field that scored two and chased Carter Henry from the game . . . Maddux Miller quickly got a fly out to left, but a run came home on the sacrifice to put Cincinnati in front 5-2.

A single by Cincinnati scored a runner from second base, despite a close play at the plate, and the Bearcats took a 6-2 lead . . . The Cougars went to the bullpen once again in favor of Matt Lazzaro who ended the frame.

A wild pitch in the seventh brought Ian McMillan home from third to cut into the Bearcats lead 6-3.

But Cincinnati answered right back, adding four runs in the eighth on a series of hits and batters hit-by-pitch . . . Before it was said and done, Houston trailed 10-3 and Sean Bretz took the mound with two outs in the inning . . . Bretz pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief in the loss.

Houston has played their final home game of 2021 and they head to Memphis next week for a weekend series with the Tigers . . . First pitch of the Friday doubleheader is set for 1pm, expect to see Robert Gasser on the mound in that game. –

Cougars Split Weekend Opener with South Florida

Robert Gasser delivers a first pitch strike on Saturday at Schroeder Park

After Friday’s weather altered the weekend series between the Houston Cougars and the South Florida Bulls, a cloudless sky greeted the two teams on a warm Saturday afternoon that saw the teams split a doubleheader . . . The Cougars took the opening game 9-2, but dropped the second game 8-4 in ten innings.

Houston starter Robert Gasser allowed a run in the second inning as the Bulls took an early 1-0 lead . . . The Cougars offense got on the board in the fourth on an Ian McMillan single that plated two and put Houston in front 2-1 . . . McMillan was 3-for-4 in the contest and is joined by Brad Burckel as the only Cougars with multiple hits in game one . . . After the Bulls tied the game in the top of the fifth, the Cougars quickly re-took the lead 3-2 after a Brad Burckel triple was followed by a Ryan Hernandez single.

Still leading 3-2 in the seventh, the offense scored six runs highlighted by a Will Pendergrass grand slam off the scoreboard in right, his sixth home run of the year, which gave Houston a 9-2 lead.

Robert Gasser completed eight innings and exited having thrown 114 pitches allowing six hits and striking out seven . . . Maddux Miller came in and got the final three outs to secure the victory for Gasser, who improved to 5-3 on the year.

Jaycob Deese got the start in game two and after a scoreless opening inning, his offense started building some support behind him.

Brad Burckel walked with one out in the first, he subsequently stole second and third, and then scored on a wild pitch for an early 1-0 lead . . . In the second, three straight singles to start the frame added two runs to the Cougars tally as Ian McMillan drove home a run and Dylan Post plated one on a sacrifice fly to left and the Cougars led 3-0.

Deese struggled in the third, allowing a three-run home run to tie the game, but he settled down and went seven strong innings, striking out six, and retiring the final ten batters he faced before giving way to Derrick Cherry for the eighth . . . Cherry tossed scoreless eighth and ninth innings and the Houston offense had a chance to walk the game off in the ninth when Tyler Bielamowicz and Steven Rivas both singled to start the inning, but two pop-ups and a strikeout left the runners in place.

The game went to extra innings and as has sometimes been the custom this season, both teams were able to start the inning with a runner on second base . . . The Bulls took advantage of two defensive miscues in the inning to score five runs (all unearned) and take a commanding 8-3 lead into the bottom of the tenth . . . The Cougars were able to score their runner from second but nothing more even though they loaded the bases and had the tying run at the plate, they fell 8-4.

The Cougars are now 14-19 overall and 2-8 in American Athletic competition . . . The Cougars had relatively good offensive balance in both games, where seven of the nine spots got base hits and each spot got on base at least once, one way of the other, aside from the nine spot in game one.

The Cougars and the Bulls will return to action early on Saturday with first pitch at Schroeder Park scheduled for 10am . . . Game one on Sunday will only last seven innings, and a second game will be played 45 minutes after the conclusion of game one. –

Cougars Drop Two in Wichita on Friday

Will Pendergrass bats in game two Friday in Wichita

The Wichita State Shockers welcomed the Houston Cougars to Wichita, Kansas on Friday with two sound conference wins in a day-night double-header that the Shockers took by scores of 10-2 and 7-1.

Jaycob Deese got the start in game one on Friday and Deese was scoreless through four but ran into trouble in the fifth . . . The Shockers plated six in an inning where nothing went right for Houston, from bad luck and bad hops to odd plays that never felt right . . . Lefty Cameron Prayer entered the game with one out and the bases loaded he got one groundout that allowed a sixth run to cross the plate, but he got a flyout to end the inning as the Shockers took a 6-0 lead into the sixth.

In the sixth, Dylan Post reached base on a one-out single into right-center . . . Brandon Uhse followed with a walk . . . With two outs, Ryan Hernandez powered a single into left-center that plated Post . . . Tyler Bielamowicz followed with a run-scoring single to cut the deficit to 6-2 going to the bottom of the sixth.

The Shockers continued to pad their lead on Cougars pitchers Maddux Miller and Tristen Bayless eventually taking a 10-2 lead and final score in game one.

The Cougars mustered just six hits in game one, two of those were by Brad Burckel, who was the only Cougar with multiple hits in the game as he went 2-for-3 in the loss.

Robert Gasser took the mound in game two and the story of game two was much the same as the story of game one, the Shockers scored plenty while the Cougars offense scuffled.

Things started well for the Cougars as Brad Burckel worked a one-out walk, and after reaching second on a fielder’s choice, a wild pitch moved Brad to third, and another wild pitch allowed him to score and give the Cougars an early 1-0 advantage to end the top half of the first . . . But that would be the Cougars only run of the night.

The Cougars offense could not get anything going against Shockers starter Liam Eddy in game two . . . Aside from two hits, the last coming in the third, Eddy retired sixteen straight batters to close out his eight innings of work before giving way to the Wichita State bullpen for the ninth . . . Steven Rivas added a single in the ninth, but that would be all for the Cougars as they fell 7-1 in the nightcap.

Andy Belcik pitched 1/3 of an inning in relief of Gasser who went 6 2/3 innings . . . Dravin Barber got in two innings of work and allowed just one run as rain fell and the wind howled . . . Tyler Bielamowicz exited game one with an apparent back injury after making a defensive play and he did not play in game two.

The two squads return to action in Wichita on Saturday . . . Carter Henry will make his second consecutive weekend start after a tremendous outing last Friday . . . First pitch takes place at 2pm. –

Run-Rule Ends Cougars Road Trip

Steven Rivas faces Oklahoma on Sunday in Norman, OK

A disappointing road trip to Norman, Oklahoma came to a close on Sunday as the Sooners swept their three game home series with a 12-2 defeat of the Houston Cougars in a seven-inning run-rule shortened game.

Ryan Hernandez was not in the lineup at all in the weekend series with Oklahoma . . . Ryan has not appeared in a game since last Tuesday when he had a single pinch-hit appearance against Texas A&M.

After being held scoreless through two innings, the Sooners opened up the scoring with four runs in the third inning, capped by a two-run home run to left by Conor McKenna . . . Ben Sears rebounded nicely with a quick fourth inning facing only three batters, striking out one.

The Cougars put together a two-run fifth inning started on a one-out single by Brad Burckel, who moments later stole second . . . Brandon Uhse hit an infield single to third which scored Burckel from third . . . After a single by Will Pendergrass, Steven Rivas doubled deep into the left field corner, Uhse scored easily, but Will Pendergrass was thrown out at home on a nice relay from the third baseman . . . The scoring had cut the Sooner lead down to 4-2.

But the Sooners had a rebound of their own when they exploded for five runs in the fifth keyed by a Brandon Zaragoza two-run home run giving the Sooners a 9-2 lead . . . Ryne Huggins relieved Sears with two outs and ended the inning without further damage.

The Sooners added a run in the sixth on a solo home run, and one-out later Huggins would be relieved by Layne Looney . . . Looney issued two walks and was quickly relieved by Sean Bretz, who also walked two on his way out of the game . . . Maddux Miller entered the game and walked one, the fifth straight Sooner, before getting an inning-ending fly out to center, but Oklahoma had taken a 12-2 lead.

The Cougars had a chance to extend to the game in the seventh with the run-rule in effect for a Sunday game, but after putting runners on first and second courtesy of two lead off walks, a double-play and a strikeout ended the frame and the game as Oklahoma took the game 12-2 and swept the three game series.

Brad Burckel was 2-for-2 in the Sunday contest while Steven Rivas was 2-for-3, the only two Cougars with multiple hits, accounting for four of the team’s seven total hits in the defeat . . . The bottom three spots in the batting order totaled three hits and two walks in the seven inning game, this is always a good sign for the Cougars when the bottom of the order is getting on base, but the top and middle of the order is hampered with the absence of Ryan Hernandez.

The Cougars will now work their way back to Houston where they will host a double-header against Prairie View A&M on Wednesday . . . Look for right-hander Blake Schultz to get one of the starts on Wednesday . . . First pitch is at 2pm from Schroeder Park. –

Cougars Dominate the Islanders 14-1

Nothing about the Houston Cougars 3-2 loss to the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders on Friday night indicated that twenty-fours hours later would see a monster offensive performance in which the offense set a new school record for home runs in a game . . . A record previously set at seven in May of 1999 . . . But that is what happened at Whataburger Field on Saturday night as the Cougars scored a run in six of the nine innings.

Brad Burckel got the Cougars offense started on Saturday night when he hit the second pitch of the game out of the ballpark for a lead off home run . . . After a single by Brandon Uhse, Steven Rivas hit a two-run home run to center to give the Cougars a quick 3-0 lead.

Freshman Will Pendergrass hit his first collegiate home run in the second to lead off the inning . . . Batting again in the second, with Brandon Uhse on second base after reaching on a double, Steven Rivas delivered another two-run home run to give the Cougars a 6-0 lead.

Freshman Samuel Benjamin also hit his first collegiate home run, this one coming in the third inning . . . Tyler Bielamowicz kept the scoring going in the fourth with a two-run homerun to increase the Cougars lead to 9-0.

Will Pendergrass hit his second home run of the night, this time a two-run shot in the fifth to make the score 11-0 . . .  Later in the inning, Brandon Uhse hit a home run to give the Cougars a 13-0 lead . . . Adam Becker capped the Cougars scoring with a single in the seventh that plated Brandon Uhse and put the Cougars on top 14-0.

The eight home runs for the Cougars set a school record for a single game . . . Five of the home runs were hit with a runner on base . . . Brandon Uhse was 3-for-4 and was on base in each of his first five plate appearances . . . In addition to his two home runs, Will Pendergrass reached base two other times, hit by a pitch one time and walked another time, good production from the eight spot in the lineup . . . Samuel Benjamin was 2-for-4 with a single in addition to the solo home run.

For as good as the offense was on Saturday night, Ben Sears was that dominant on the other side . . . Staked to a big lead that continued to grow as the game went on, Sears scattered four hits over seven innings and did not walk a batter, only departing in the eighth inning after two singles started the inning for the Islanders . . . Sears gave way to Andrew Belcik, eventually one of the runners allowed on base by Sears would score on a sacrifice fly to left field accounting for the sole Islanders run in the game.

Maddux Miller started the ninth in relief, but he gave way to Derrick Cherry who recorded the final out on a fly ball to left and secured the 14-1 victory for the Cougars . . . The Cougars improved to 5-1 on the season with the win.

These two teams close out the weekend series with a rubber game on Sunday afternoon at 1pm at Whataburger Field . . . .Blake Schultz with his record of 1-0 will take the mound for the Cougars.

Cougars Improve to 4-0 to Start 2021

Cameron Prayer throws the first pitch Tuesday afternoon

The Houston Cougars scored double-digit runs for the third consecutive game on Tuesday while downing the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders 12-8 at Schroeder Park.

Cameron Prayer took the mound for his first start as a Cougar . . . Prayer’s teammates got him some early offense, plating five runs in the bottom of the second inning.

The scoring in the second began when third baseman Adam Becker hit a ball off the wall in left-center and two runs crossed the plate to tie the game . . . After an RBI single by Brad Burckel, Steven Rivas hit is third home run of the young season . . . Before the inning was over, the Cougars had re-taken the lead 5-2.

Steven Rivas was not done . . . After a home run by Brandon Uhse to lead off the fourth, Rivas hit another home run, a towering shot to center that cleared the fence to the left of the black screen in center . . . For Rivas it was part of a 3-for-5, 3 RBI afternoon, he has 8 RBI in the first four games.

Tyler Bielamowicz would hit a home run in the seventh that allowed the Cougars to re-take a five run lead 10-5. For Tyler it was his first of the season and part of a 2-for-3 afternoon . . . Ian McMillan continued to swing a hot bat going 3-for-5.

Brad Burckel homered in the seventh as well to extend the lead to 12-5. Burckel went the opposite way for his first home run of the year in a 2-for-4 effort.

A bevy of other Cougars pitchers saw some innings in Tuesday’s game, including Sean Bretz, Carter Henry, Ryne Huggins, and Dravin Barber . . . The Cougars offense scored a run in five of eight innings and pounded out sixteen hits.

Maddux Miller went 1 2/3 innings, struck out three batters, and earned the win for his work to go 1-0 on the year . . . Derrick Cherry closed the door in the ninth, after inheriting a bases-loaded and no outs situation, Derrick recorded three outs, striking out two batters, to lock down the 12-8 victory for the Cougars.

The Cougars hit the road now for their first road trip of the season, heading southwest to take on these same Islanders in a three-game series at Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi over the weekend, first pitch Friday night is at 6pm.