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.

Late Rally Costs Houston, Split Series with Memphis

With a chance to win their first conference series of the year, the Houston Cougars were without a usual weekend starter as they took on the Memphis Tigers for the fourth time in three days on Sunday at FedEx Park.

Jaycob Deese missed a start this weekend out of an abundance of caution for a tweaked hamstring, so Matt Lazzaro made only his second start of the season for the Cougars, and his first start since the Cougars visited Lamar on March 3rd. 

Scoreless in the second, Steven Rivas led off the inning with a single to center, his seventh hit of the weekend in Memphis, and he subsequently stole second base . . . Skyler Trevino, facing an 0-2 count, picked up his first collegiate RBI on a two-out single to right field that plated Rivas and gave the Cougars a 1-0 lead.

Brad Burckel led off the third inning with a home run over the right field wall, his fifth home run of the season, and the Cougars led 2-0 . . . One out later, Ryan Hernandez hit his tenth home run of the season over the left field wall to increase the lead to 3-0.

Still 3-0 in the bottom of the seventh, a leadoff single would lead to Lazzaro’s exit . . . The Tigers only threatened Lazzaro in a couple of frames as he scattered five hits over six innings to go with eight strikeouts . . . Maddux Miller took the mound with no outs and a runner on first . . . The Tigers loaded the bases, but Miller struck out a pinch-hitter looking and got a ground out to short to end the inning.

A Trevino RBI single in the eighth pushed the Houston lead to 4-0 . . . Trevino was 3-for-4 with 2 RBI in Sunday’s game.

Things fell apart for Houston in the bottom of the eighth as Memphis scored eight runs and brought thirteen batters to the plate . . . Walks were the story of the inning as the Houston bullpen issued six free passes in the eighth and before the inning was done, Memphis led 8-4.

Bielamowicz doubled with one out in the ninth, but that was the extent of the Houston offense as Memphis closed out the game and evened the weekend series at two wins each.

Houston has a few days off now before they face University of Central Florida in a series which begins on Thursday . . . First pitch from Orlando is at 1pm, expect to see Robert Gasser on the mound for the Cougars for his final start before the American Athletic Conference Championship tournament in Clearwater. –

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. –

Houston Takes Finale, Splits Weekend Series with USF

Carter Henry throws the first pitch in Sunday’s second game at Schroeder Park

The Houston Cougars and South Florida Bulls got things started on Sunday at Schroeder Park with a 10am first pitch in the first game of a doubleheader . . . Like Saturday, the teams split the day and eventually the weekend series as the Cougars dropped game one 4-0 but won the second game 5-2.

Game one saw South Florida score a run in both the second and fourth inning as Ben Sears worked his way through the bright-and-early Sunday opener.

While the offense was quiet, Sears was working his way through the game . . . In the fifth, after a runner reached first on a throwing error, the next batter put a ball in play just in front of home plate, catcher Dylan Post fielded and threw to second base where Ian McMillan lept into the air to field the throw, he landed on second and fired the ball to first to complete the unconventional double play and erase the runner who had reached on an error.

Sears took the game into the seventh inning and exited with two outs in favor of Andy Belcik, one out away from a complete game (in seven innings) . . . After the Bulls increased their lead to 4-0, the Cougars went to the bullpen again, this time Matt Lazzaro got the call to get the final out.

The Cougars offense could put nothing together against Bulls starter Collin Sullivan despite three pinch-hitters also having a chance to take some swings . . . Houston had two total hits in the contest, a double by Brad Burckel and a double by Tyler Bielamowicz.

Ben Sears went 6 2/3 and allowed just two earned runs while striking out five but he was on the wrong end of a shutout and took the loss as the Cougars fell 4-0.

Carter Henry took the hill for a sunny afternoon game two and unlike Ben Sears, not only did Henry get run support, he got it early.

In the bottom of the first . . . Brandon Uhse hit a double to the wall in left, and Brad Burckel follow with a single and then stole second . . . Designated hitter Dylan Post hit a ball to the opposite field, dropping it just inside the left field foul line for a double that put the Cougars in front 2-0.

South Florida tied the game in the third scoring their only runs of the game on three singles and groundout.

Both teams were kept quiet offensively until the bottom of the seventh . . . With two outs, Brandon Uhse walked and Brad Burckel followed with an opposite field double that went to the wall in the left field corner scoring Uhse from first base . . . Tyler Bielamowicz walked and a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third . . . Ryan Hernandez in his second at-bat of the game having pinch hit in the fifth, powered a single to left-center which scored both runners widening the Houston advantage 5-2 going to the eighth.

Brandon Uhse was 2-for-3 and Brad Burckel was 2-for-4, accounting for four of the Cougars six hits in the second game.

Carter Henry kept the Bulls off the scoreboard through eight innings of terrific pitching . . . It was Henry’s second time in his three starts to go eight or more innings . . . Sean Bretz took the mound for the ninth inning and quickly got the Bulls down in order to close out the 5-2 victory . . . Henry improved to 1-2 with the win and Bretz earned his first save of the season.

The Cougars are off for a few days before heading to New Orleans for a series with Tulane beginning Friday at 2pm with a doubleheader as they conclude American Athletic Conference action. –

Houston Shut Out by Lamar

The Houston Cougars traveled to Beaumont on Wednesday to take on the Lamar Cardinals . . . Houston entered the game with a 6-1 record on the season, while Lamar was playing its first game of the season, the result of the first part of their schedule being cancelled due to several Covid-19 positives within its program . . . As such, Lamar put their number one starter on the mound to begin their season.

Matt Lazzaro took the hill for the Cougars in what was his first start as a Cougar . . . Matt went through the Cardinals lineup once and exited after two scoreless innings, having yielded one hit, it would be the only Lamar hit until the bottom of the eighth inning.

Sean Bretz took the ball for the third inning and tossed a scoreless frame . . . Cameron Prayer then started the fourth inning and would not relinquish the ball until the eighth inning when he exited the game with two outs, likely a matter of his pitch count at this stage in the season in his longest outing thus far . . . Prayer was outstanding and went 4 2/3 hitless innings with seven strikeouts, two of those strikeouts coming in the eighth just before his exit.

The Cougars collected a total of five base hits in the Wednesday evening affair, one of those came off the bat of Steven Rivas in the form of an infield single . . . Rivas was injured on the close play at first . . . After a brief pause in the game to attend to Rivas, he stayed in the game to run, but he exited an inning later, replaced by freshman Samuel Benjamin . . . Rivas was 2-for-2 before exiting.

Ryan Hernandez hit two singles in the game, and Brandon Uhse got a base hit in the ninth to extend his hitting streak to seven games . . . Those were the only five hits for the Cougars in the game as Cardinals starter Trevin Michael went the first five innings, and he the gave way to three Lamar relief pitchers who carried the load for the final four frames.

The Cardinals finally got to the Cougars bullpen in the bottom of the eighth, plating two runs with two outs and taking a 2-0 lead, a score which would hold up in the ninth and gave Houston just its second loss of 2021 as they went to 6-2.

The Cougars return home this Friday to host a weekend series with the Texas Longhorns, the first such series since 1996 when both teams were still in the old Southwest Conference . . . First pitch from Schroeder Park is at 6:30. –

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