Cougars Win 3-1 at UNLV

Ryan Hernandez connects on his 5th homerun of the season against UNLV Tuesday.
Ryan Hernandez connects on his 5th homerun of the season Tuesday.

LAS VEGAS – The Houston Cougars got exactly what they needed in Las Vegas on Tuesday night: Pitching that kept them in the game, gave them a chance to win, and delivered the win.

The game was scoreless in the top of the second inning when Luke Almendarez opened the scoring with a double to left that brought Steven Rivas home from third . . . Ian McMillan would score from third in the same frame on a passed ball and the Cougars took a 2-0 lead.

Nick Rupp allowed his only run of the outing, and the only UNLV run of the night, in the bottom of the third inning . . . Rupp stayed in the game, tossed a scoreless fourth, and started the fifth inning before being lifted having thrown 68 pitches in his longest outing on the season as a Cougar.

Carter Henry entered the game and quickly struck out two UNLV batters before allowing a single and then coming back to get the third out of the inning on a foul pop behind the plate that Kyle Lovelace caught as he fell down for out number three . . . Henry went 2 1/3 innings, struck out five of eleven batters he faced, and kept the Rebels from scoring.

Luke Almendarez added another double in the seventh in a 2-for-3 night.

Derrick Cherry relieved Henry in the seventh to get the final two outs of the inning despite the wind wreaking havoc on pop-ups in the field behind him . . . In the bottom of the eighth, runners reached base on a single and an error at third, Cherry proceeded to strike out the next three batters to end the threat.

With Houston holding on to a 2-1 lead going to the ninth, leadoff hitter Ryan Hernandez went deep to right-center to give the Cougars a two-run advantage going to the bottom of the inning . . . For Hernandez it was his fifth homerun of the season, which leads the team . . . Derrick Cherry gave up a leadoff single in the ninth, but he struck out the next batter and then got the final batter to roll into a game-ending double-play . . . Cherry struck out five in his 2 2/3 innings and walked none while earning his third save of the season . . . Carter Henry took home the victory, his first of the year.

The Cougars and the Rebels conclude their two-game midweek matchup on Wednesday afternoon . . . The first pitch is at 3:05pm CT from Las Vegas before the Cougars return home for a series with Dallas Baptist this weekend at Schroeder Park. –

Cougars Win at Rice, 6-4

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The Houston Cougars win at Rice on Wednesday night.
(Photo courtesy of @FERGTEXAS409 via Twitter)

The Houston Cougars traveled a few miles to Rice’s Reckling Park on Wednesday night for the first of three games against the Owls in the 2020 Silver Glove Series.

Nick Rupp got the start on the mound for the Cougars and faced early trouble loading the bases with no outs, but he would work out of the situation without allowing a run.

Ian McMillan led off the top of the second with a single, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Rey Mendoza and then a fly out to right by Luke Almendarez, before finally scoring on a passed ball to give Houston a 1-0 lead . . . Rice would take the lead right back in their half of the second on a back-to-back single and double.

In the top of the third, Brad Burckel, in his first game back since suffering an injury in Round Rock, singled home Steven Rivas from second to tie the game at two.

Tanner Green entered in the third and pitched 2 1/3 innings and did not give up any runs while only yielding two hits and walk.

The Cougars took 4-2 lead in the fourth when Tyler Bielamowicz singled to center to plate Luke Almendarez and Kyle Lovelace, both reached base on singles . . . After a scoreless fourth for Cougar pitching, Derrick Cherry doubled off the wall in right-center, and was brought home from second two batters later on an Ian McMillan single to increase the Cougars lead to 5-2.

The Cougars ran into trouble in the sixth as two runners reached base with no outs behind Jared Pettitte . . . Derrick Cherry entered the game and gave up a quick RBI single on a wild hop past third baseman Ian McMillan, then an RBI double by Trei Cruz to put Owl runners on second and third with no one out . . . Cherry then struck out the next three Rice batters swinging, the heart of the Owl lineup could not deliver as Cherry buckled-down and held on to a 5-4 lead.

Cherry followed with a scoreless seventh inning in which Kobe Hyland made two great defensive plays at shortstop, showing range and movement on both, one to his right, and one to his left in which he was well behind second when he threw the ball to first.

Tyler Bielamowicz brought home an insurance run in the eighth when he doubled to left-center to bring home Rey Mendoza from second . . . Mendoza had walked to reach base in a ten-pitch at-bat that included fouling-off five pitches . . . For Bielamowicz, the double capped-off a 3-for-4 night with a walk and a stolen base . . . Ironically, Tyler’s stolen base came when he was on first because of a fielder’s choice, the one time he did not reach base cleanly all night.

Meanwhile, Derrick Cherry was dominating on the mound, going four scoreless innings, hitting 87-89mph in his final inning of work . . . Cherry struck out five, only allowed three hits and picked up a save for his effort . . . Tanner Green got the win by virtue of his being the pitcher of record when the Cougars took the lead once and for all.

The Cougars are off tomorrow before opening a series at Arizona Friday night at 7pm. –

Cougars Drop 12 Inning Thriller

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Spencer Hynes throws the first pitch against UTRGV Tuesday night.

The Houston Cougars and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros played a game Tuesday night that few who were in attendance will be able to forget; this game had it all.

After neither team could push a run across in the first inning, in the bottom second Ian McMillan put down a sacrifice bunt to score Brett Cain from third for an early 1-0 lead.

Spencer Hynes started the game on the mound and threw two scoreless innings . . . Nick Rupp followed Hynes and went three scoreless before yielding to Tanner Green . . . For Rupp, it was his first appearance for the Cougars.

The Vaqueros tied the game in the sixth with a run-scoring single . . . The next batter put a ball deep into the outfield and the runner from first had been moving on contact with two outs. Right-fielder Rivas threw to his cut-off man Ian McMillan who fired home to catcher Dylan Post to stop a go-ahead run from scoring by mere inches.

With the game tied at one in the eighth, UTRGV hit a grand slam to not only take the lead, but also to have some cushion . . . The Cougars would chip away at the four-run deficit by countering with three runs of their own in the bottom of the eighth, spurred by freshman Rey Mendoza’s first hit as a Cougar, a two-out, two-run single to center in the pinch-hitting role . . . Tyler Bielamowicz followed with a run-scoring single to get the Cougars within one at 5-4.

Bielamowicz in the leadoff spot reached base in five of six plate appearances, with two walks, a double on the first pitch of the night from UTRGV, an eighth inning single, and an error at second base that resulted in Bielamowicz safe at first . . . It is no secret that having a leadoff guy getting on base is crucial, and sometimes a ballplayer just has to put the ball in play to make things happen.

Steven Rivas stepped to the plate with one out in the ninth . . . Rivas went after the first pitch he saw from UTRGV’s Max Balderrama Jr. and drove it over the scoreboard in right-center field . . . The ball cleared the scoreboard by five feet and by the time Rivas crossed the plate, there was a brand new ballgame tied at five all . . . Rivas had three hits in the game, only he and Tyler Bielamowicz enjoyed a multi-hit game.

Before Rivas had a chance to tie the game, the Cougars had to get to that point . . . In the top of the ninth, the Vaqueros were threatening when Coleman Grubbs drove a ball toward the gap in left-center with two runners on base . . . Tyler Bielamowicz covered some real estate and then laid out for the catch of the year thus far . . . If the ball had dropped, a run would have scored, if the ball had gotten by and gone to the wall, two runs would have scored . . . Bielo ended the threat with a catch for the ages.

A scoreless tenth ran into a scoreless top of the eleventh . . . In the bottom of the frame, the Cougars loaded the bases with no outs . . . Jonathan Thomas put a pitch in play and when all was said and done, confusion and bewilderment on the basepaths resulted in an inning-ending triple play.

In the top half of the twelfth, The Vaqueros managed to get a run across on a sacrifice fly to deep left for a 6-5 lead . . . The Cougars went quietly in the bottom half and four hours and forty-two minutes after the first pitch, the game came to an end.

The Cougars return to action on Friday night at Schroeder Park when they play host to the Texas State Bobcats in a three-game weekend series . . . First pitch Friday is scheduled for 6:30. –

2020 Alumni Day Game Recap

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Red vs. White at Schroeder Park on Sunday.
(Photo courtesy of @Astronile on Twitter)

The 2020 baseball season got a step closer on Sunday at Schroeder Park as the Houston Cougars saw former ballplayers return home for a yearly event that included batting practice, players introductions, and this year, a solemn salute.

Prior to the game, a moment of silence was observed for John Altobelli, a tribute was read to the crowd while the video board displayed Altobelli’s picture with his years as a Cougar listed, then came the silence and head-bowing . . . The only time Schroeder Park is ever that quiet is when the games are over and the campus is empty . . . Coach Todd Whitting said before the game that he would be attending the memorial for Altobelli tomorrow in Anaheim, California at the Angels ballpark.

The game itself was basically an intrasquad affair, with former Cougars and now professional pitchers Joey Pulido and Nick Hernandez each throwing the first inning for Team White and Team Red respectively, but all fielders and hitters were members of the 2020 squad.

It is hard to tell much during what is an unpredictable game scenario of players switching sides, predetermined innings to pitch, along with only five innings of action to begin with . . . Spencer Hynes, Rey Mendoza, Nick Rupp, Tristen Bayless, Carter Henry and Randy Garza all saw some time on the mound.

Defensively there were some bright spots . . . Newcomer Ryan Hernandez is a big kid and he moves well at third base, he made at least one great play on a weak bouncer which he fielded cleanly and made an accurate off-balance throw . . . Kyle Lovelace threw out a runner trying to steal third . . . Newcomer Steven Rivas fielded a fly ball single on a bounce and the hitter tried to turn the single into a double, but Rivas’s throw to second was right on line and the runner was tagged out with room to spare . . . And Kobe Hyland continues to move smoothly at short.

All told the game ended after five innngs, as was scheduled . . . The rain in the forecast held off long enough for the game to be completed, the kids ran the bases, and autographs were signed in the Cougars dugout to cap off the day.

The Cougars start 2020 action on Friday at 6:30pm at Schroeder Park against Youngstown State, the first of a three-game weekend series to get the season underway.