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 Wins in Comeback Fashion, 7-5

The Memphis Tigers looked headed to an easy win on Saturday at FedEx Park, before all things started working for the Houston Cougars who eventually took the game 7-5.

Houston starter Carter Henry did not seem long for the game in the first inning as Memphis took a 3-0 lead on three hits and two wild pitches . . .  The Cougars bullpen was active in the first, never a good sign . . . The Tigers added another run in the second when a two-out walk later came around to score.

Skyler Trevino walked to lead off the third . . . That was followed by singles by Brad Burckel and Tyler Bielamowicz to load the bases for Ryan Hernandez . . . Hernandez dropped a single into left field which scored Trevino and Burckel and cut the Memphis lead to 4-2.

Dylan Post and Ian McMillian hit back-to-back singles to lead off the fourth . . . Samuel Tormos delivered a sacrifice fly ball to center field to score Post and get Houston to within a run at 4-3.

Bielamowicz led off the fifth with a walk, and that was followed by Hernandez being hit by a pitch . . . Memphis went to the bullpen and then Steven Rivas delivered a game-tying double to left-center . . . Will Pendergrass was then hit by a pitch to load the bases . . . Post flew out to the left-fielder and Bielamowicz scampered home on the sacrifice as the go-ahead run at 5-4.

Trevino and Tormos both walked to get the Cougars sixth inning started . . . Burckel was ruled out at first on a batters interference call . . . Bielamowicz was batting when the Tigers catcher attempted to pick off Tormos at first, but the throw got past the first baseman and Trevino raced from second to score and increase the Cougars lead to 6-4.

Henry departed in the sixth after getting two outs, Derrick Cherry took the mound to get the final out and end the Tigers threat . . . Henry settled down after those first two innings and left the game with his team leading after blanking Memphis for his final 3 2/3 innings.

The Tigers got a run in the seventh on a leadoff home run to cut the Houston lead to 6-5.

Brandon Uhse led off the eighth with a pinch-hit double, Burckel was then hit by a pitch . . . After the Tigers went to the bullpen, Bielamowicz (2-for-4) singled to left to score Uhse and extend the Cougars lead to 7-5.

Cherry (5) pitched the final 3 1/3 innings to earn the save for the second time in as many days, he struck out the final two batters of the ninth to end the game, the final out being the conference leader in home runs, Hunter Goodman . . . The hard-earned win also improved Henry’s record to 2-4.

After being set down in order in the first two innings, the Cougars got their leadoff batter on base in each of the next four innings, all innings in which they scored at least one run . . . Two of those times it was the eighth spot in the order.

Houston and Memphis close out their weekend series on Sunday with a first pitch scheduled for 11am . . . The Cougars have not yet announced a starter at this time. –

Cougars, Gasser Take Game One; Split in Memphis

A classic, well-pitched game was followed by a lopsided affair as the Memphis Tigers hosted the Houston Cougars for a Friday doubleheader at FedEx Park . . . Houston took game one 2-1, while Memphis ran away with game two 13-7.

Robert Gasser had the ball for the Cougars and he worked his way the Tigers lineup with relative ease through the first three innings.

The Cougars scored their first run in the fourth when a single to right field by Steven Rivas scored Tyler Bielamowicz from second base for a 1-0 lead.

Memphis tied the game in their half of the fourth when a fielding error at short allowed the tying run to score.

Still tied in the seventh, after one-out singles by Rivas (3-for-4) and Will Pendergrass (2-for-3), Ian McMillan (2-for-3) doubled off the wall in left to score Rivas from second and put the Cougars in front 2-1.

Despite minor threats the rest of the way, including a bases loaded no-outs situation for the Cougars in the top of the ninth, no more runs would cross the plate.

Derrick Cherry took over on the mound to begin the eighth and he got the final six outs, despite a couple of deep flies (one foul, one caught in left) to save the game for Gasser and pick up his fourth save of the season as the Cougars took game one . . . Cherry struck out two batters in the ninth.

Gasser improved to 6-5 with his seven innings pitched, allowing no earned runs and only three hits with ten strikeouts.

Before Ben Sears even took the mound for the Cougars in game two, he was spotted with a 2-0 after a two-RBI triple in the top of the first with two outs by Rivas.

But a home run by Hunter Goodman tied the game at two in the bottom of the first and it was a brand new ballgame.

A one-out double in the second put the Tigers in front 4-2.

Rivas (10) led off the fourth with a two-run home run to get the Cougars to within 4-3 . . . Pendergrass immediately followed with a double and he was brought home when Dylan Post doubled off the wall in right to tie the game at four.

Sears loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth without recording an out, aided by a fielding error behind him . . . Sears would exit at that point and Colby Casey would take the mound in a difficult situation . . . Casey induced a fly-out to right in which one unearned run crossed the plate, and then we would retire the next two batters to escape the inning and with the Tigers leading 5-4.

Brad Burckel led off the fifth with a single down the right field line and then he stole second base to get into scoring position . . . Ryan Hernandez (9) hit a one out two-run home run to left to give the Cougars a 6-5 lead.

Colby Casey helped the game along with two solid innings pitched in his fifth appearance of the season for Houston . . . Casey did not allow a run and his ERA on the year remains 0.00 . . . Skyler Trevino collected his first collegiate hit in the sixth inning when he connected on a one-out double.

The Tigers wrestled the lead back in the seventh on a walk, a triple, and a wild pitch as they took the 7-6 lead . . . At that point the Tigers broke the game open, scoring a total of eight runs in the frame taking a 13-6 lead into the eighth inning.

Patrick Dunn took the mound for the eighth and pitched a three up, three down frame, striking out two . . . It was Dunn’s first appearance since March 13 at Texas State.

The Cougars plated one more run on an innocent ground out to first base in the top of the ninth, but that was all they would get as they fell 13-7 in game two.

The Cougars and the Tigers will do it all over again tomorrow at 2pm in Memphis . . . Carter Henry will take the mound for Houston. –

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. –

 

Newspaper column version of this recap