Houston Cougars Recap the 2020 TCL

Texas Collegeiate League TCL logo - Cougars Beat

The Texas Collegiate League (TCL) season came to an end on Saturday night in Bryan. The one-game championship proved to be an anti-climactic 13-2 affair, and was not typical of most of the month-long season which saw plenty of low scoring and quality baseball.

The Houston Cougars were represented on two of the ten TCL teams throughout the season. And one of them was on the winning side of that championship win.

The TCL is a wooden bat league, common for college play during the summer in the various leagues across the country that offer athletes the opportunity to play baseball when school is not in session. Five active Cougars and one incoming junior college transfer made up part of the roster for the Round Rock Hairy Men, which played their home games at Dell Diamond, the home of the AAA Round Rock Express. One other incoming junior college transfer found a spot of the Brazos Valley Bombers which played their home games at Travis Park in Bryan, just north of College Station.

Round Rock saw their season come to end with two regular season games remaining, and with a playoff spot almost certainly assured. Their final weekend series was a three game set with San Antonio, two of the games were to be played in Round Rock, with the middle game to be played in San Antonio. Rain forced the cancellation of Friday night’s game.

Then on Saturday came the announcement out of Round Rock that the Hairy Men would not be traveling to San Antonio and that in fact, the season was being put on ice amid Covid-19 concerns in the organization. In a statement released just six hours before the scheduled first pitch in San Antonio, Round Rock General Manager, Tim Jackson stated, “With just two games remaining in the season, out of an abundance of caution, we felt it was in the best interest of our players and staff to end the season now.”

Teams across the TCL had taken numerous player, personnel, and facility precautions in this shortened 2020 season, but the Round Rock team found itself erring on the side of caution and deciding to end the season with a couple of games left to go. As a result, the Hairy Men forfeited their final two games and declared they would not be taking part in a playoff series set to begin the following Tuesday, should their team have made it.

For the Houston Cougars on the Round Rock team, the cancellation of the season came at a time when they were playing some of their best baseball, including having just completed a three-game sweep of the eventual TCL champions, the Brazos Valley Bombers, at Dell Diamond.

From day one of the formation of the team, the Round Rock players and organization talked about the importance of baseball during the summer after the abrupt end of the college baseball season back in March.

The day before the season opened, the Cougars players voiced their thoughts about playing again, and to a man, they talked about improving their individual games and how much they really wanted to play again. They also noted the importance of having so many teammates with them in Round Rock.

Ryan Hernandez had one of the great seasons in the entire league. Just prior to the season, Ryan appeared dialed-in as he spoke about working each day with purpose and vision. He only lost the batting title on the last day of the season when the eventual leader went 4-for-4 lifting his average to .367 over Ryan’s .364. Hernandez also had multiple-hits in ten of his twenty-three games played, along with six home runs.

Reflecting on the season upon its conclusion, Hernandez echoed those pre-season sentiments again, “I saw this summer as an opportunity to work on stuff that I felt needed some fixing. My approach was the most important part of my game this summer and it’s going to continue to be that way. After refining my approach and honestly hunting pitches that I like, it got much easier to hit.”

Cougars freshmen Rey Mendoza and Luke Almendarez each found full-time roles with the Hairy Men, Mendoza in the outfield and Almendarez at second and shortstop.

On the challenge that the league presented to him, Mendoza offered this, “What surprised me about the TCL season is the amount of talent and competitiveness there was throughout the league. The pitching was definitely challenging in this league, and it was fun being able to face some great arms this summer.” 

Rey was no newcomer to the use of a wooden bat, but he explained that it had been a few years since the last time he played with one, “I hadn’t really used a wooden bat in a game since my junior year summer with my travel ball team. I tried to just stick with the same approach I have with a metal bat which is to hit a fastball up the middle or opposite field.” Rey hit in sixteen of his twenty-seven games played, a stat that is slightly misleading in that Rey had four games where he only had one at-bat as a late-inning defensive replacement or as a pinch hitter. Rey also was a perfect 7-for-7 in stolen base attempts.

Almendarez also took positives from the TCL experience, “I loved hitting with the wood bat this summer. Finding that one perfect wood bat is a great feeling. I learned a lot about my approach that will definitely transition to college.” Luke raised his batting average by forty-one points in his last nine games played. Luke’s summer play has him ready to return to campus to get back to the grind, “What I’m focused on most is staying healthy and working on my game as much as I can. I’m excited to get back to Houston and to get to work. I’m pumped to see all the guys again, hopefully very soon.“

Kyle Lovelace was a late season addition to the Round Rock team, and then platooned with the other catchers, including Cougars teammate Dylan Post. Kyle joined the team after the season got underway as the Round Rock organization went in search of a catcher after an injury sidelined their game one catcher in his first at-bat of the season.

Kyle enjoyed his time in the league and offered his thoughts as a catcher, “The quality of pitching this summer was phenomenal. The diversity of arms we had was incredible. Guys were able to command the zone well and throw multiple pitches for strikes. We had guys that were power arms and guys that could come in and mix-and-match. I really enjoyed being able to get back there and catch these guys.”

Kyle Lovelace takes the game seriously when he is behind the plate, whether in a college season or as a part-time player in a college summer league. Kyle’s defensive style only shocks those who have never seen him play. Opposing radio announcers seemed shocked at the number of times Kyle went hunting for base runners, with throws behind them or throws when the runners looked disinterested. Anyone who has watched Houston Cougars baseball in recent years is not surprised to see Kyle constantly checking on runners, and often clearing them off the base paths.

Most, if not all, catchers in the TCL called their own pitches, rather than looking to the dugout for each pitch. Asked how a veteran catcher prepares for calling a game in a wood bat league, Lovelace says, “The only thing that changed really was that we were a little more aggressive in because guys are holding sticks in their hands, maybe more aggressive with the fastball.“

“I know all of these guys well and have phenomenal relationships with them already,” Lovelace said of teaming-up with so many of his Cougars teammates this summer. As a team leader, Kyle is setting the standard, “All of the Coogs had a great summer, but it’s expected.”

Freshman Dylan Post was one of several platoon catchers for the Hairy Men and he had a great all-around season, both defensively and offensively. Runners attempting to steal did not find much success against Dylan. With the wooden bat, he hit .306 and hit two home runs in nineteen games.  In those nineteen games, Dylan had base hits in thirteen of them.

Incoming transfer Cole Turney, who last played college baseball this year at San Jacinto College, hit six doubles and three home runs in twenty-two games played while playing the outfield. Cole had at least one RBI in eight different games for Round Rock.

Jaycob Deese is another junior college transfer like Turney, though Deese is coming from Galveston College. Deese managed a 3.86 ERA with nine strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings pitched over four starts. Jaycob’s final outing was abbreviated after just one inning pitched by the right-hander.

Deese had a different journey into the TCL than the other Cougars. Jaycob was pitching in Bryan, at Travis Park, while playing in the Collegiate Summer Baseball Invitational (CSBI) in June. He was hitting 96mph during a bullpen session when a Brazos Valley coach approached him about playing for the Bombers in the TCL. Deese was on the team Saturday night when they picked up the championship over the Tulsa Drillers.

Once there, Deese enjoyed his time in the TCL, “It was a great experience. I had never played in front of that many fans. Galveston College was a really small school and playing in front of that many fans was cool,” he explained. Talking specifically about pitching, and pitching hard, in a wood bat league, Deese noted, “You can miss a spot and still miss a barrel and they can break a bat. Going inside is better too with the velo I had, it was easier.”

Ryan Hernandez was proud of his Cougars teammates when the season concluded, “It almost seems like everyday another Cougar was highlighted for their good work. I am really looking forward to this upcoming season since the Coogs are hot.”

Having so many Cougars on one summer league team was beneficial beyond measure in at least one respect. As Luke Almendarez put it, “Having Ryan Hernandez and Kyle Lovelace there was awesome. Those guys are leaders for us younger guys. You watch them play and they play the game the right way and they play hard.”

Talking with Ryan Hernandez, it is easy to see that he liked the discipline of the league, and perhaps that mentality paid dividends for the other Cougars, “We had some practices before every game to work on different skills everyday. I found it to be super beneficial to me and my teammates that we weren’t only just playing for fun but also still having some order and skill development too.” That is the type of “summer camp” that Almendarez and the “younger guys” got to be a part of this year.

As for the immediate future, these players have seen two baseball seasons ended early in the last five months because of Covid-19 concerns. There are no guarantees about the next season, or even the next academic year, but these ball players are hungry and they are ready to get back to work just over a week after their last season ended.

“I’m just eager to get back on campus and work out with my teammates,” said Rey Mendoza. Kyle Lovelace voiced similar sentiments about his fellow Cougars, “I’m really proud of them and looking forward to rolling that into a great season this spring.”

And Ryan Hernandez, ever the focused worker, is ready for what is next, “Now that the season is over I am going to start working on getting stronger and getting as fit as possible. Since we do have strength and conditioning workouts I look forward to getting my body right for the upcoming season. I am also planning on consistently talking with the other Coogs about approach and finding their moneymaker pitch so that we can be ready to roll once again.”

When it was over, the player excitement and optimism expressed prior to the season was still there. Rather than being disappointed the season ended earlier than planned and a playoff spot was forfeited, the Cougars looked back on the games they did get to play; at how they grew, not only as players, but as teammates.

The fall of 2020 awaits with no answers and no guarantees, and hope springs eternal that these young men take the field as a team in scarlet and white in February 2021. –

Houston Cougars Halfway Through the 2020 TCL Season

Texas Collegeiate League TCL logo - Cougars Beat

ROUND ROCK – Thursday night marked the halfway point in the Texas Collegiate League (TCL) season, which lasts for thirty games and a playoff. The Houston Cougars are well represented in this summers TCL, with a total of seven players now filling roster spots on two different teams.

The TCL is a wooden bat league, giving spectators a chance to view hitters without the added pop of the aluminum bats, and giving pitchers a chance to experiment and challenge hitters without worrying that each and every mistake is going to leave the ballpark. Several host teams play their home games in minor league ballparks, including Tulsa, Round Rock, San Antonio, Frisco, and Amarillo.

Ryan Hernandez is leaving his mark on the TCL this summer. Just a few days ago Hernandez was named TCL Player of the Week for the week of July 7-13. Ryan hit .474 on the week three doubles, three home runs, seven RBI and six runs scored. At the halfway point, he is batting .365 overall with five home runs and twelve RBI. Ryan has played in thirteen of the teams fifteen games so far, and he has only been held hitless in two of those games.

Ryan had been at home in Boston since the Cougars season ended and arrived back in Texas just a few days before the TCL season got underway. Asked at Hairy Men media day about being in Round Rock for real baseball now, Ryan replied quickly, “This is amazing.” Hernandez was also hoping to “get some reps at third base” to keep his versatility, but so far his time has been spent playing first base. “Whatever they want me to do, they can count on me.”

One of the Hernandez home runs occurred at Dell Diamond in Round Rock on July 8. The blast was so pure it cleared the Home Run Porch, well beyond the left-field wall. Andrew Felts, the director of PR and Communications for the Round Rock Express and the Hairy Men said after the blast, “In my four years with the Round Rock Express, I’ve seen four players send a ball over the Home Run Porch at Dell Diamond: Jorge Bonifacio, Joey Gallo, Yordan Alvarez…and Ryan Hernandez.”

Besides clearing the Home Run Porch, another thing those home runs all had in common: All were done with wooden bats.

Cole Turney has two home runs for Round Rock while playing the outfield. The incoming SanJac transfer has twelve hits overall, including hits in nine of his fourteen games played, and a 3-for-4 game. Turney bats left and has spent a sizable portion of his time batting in the third spot, just in front of Ryan Hernandez. When asked the day before the season started about being in the TCL this summer, he said he was excited for the season, “being out here feels like being back at home.” And asked about his expected playing time in a possibly crowded outfield, Turney said, “just as long as I’m out here and I get my work in every day, I’m not worried about that.”

Rey Mendoza is hitting .279 this summer having collected twelve base hits over eight games. Rey has four multi-hit games to his credit. The left-handed-hitting Mendoza was having a nice freshman season for the Cougars before the season ended and there may have been no one more anxious than he was to get on the field and play again. At media day for the Hairy Men, Mendoza commented, “Just to be in this atmosphere of baseball again is amazing.”

Dylan Post has been platooning at catcher with two other catchers, he does have a home run in his limited time behind the plate. As the season was about to get underway, Post said, “I just want to get back to actually playing.” Not knowing a season-ending injury was about to sideline one of the other catchers on the team the next day, Dylan has caught the most innings of the group to this point, and defensively Post has played well. Dylan is batting .364 to this point and has had a base hit in six of his eight games played (Worth noting, in one of those eight games played, Post was only a pinch-hitter with one at-bat).

Luke Almendarez is playing some tremendous defense at both shortstop and second base. His batting average has inched up in recent games, along with key RBI production. Luke has two multi-hit games and has a base bit in seven of his games played and three stolen bases. For Luke, the opportunity to play in Round Rock is a return home for the first-year Cougar.

Veteran Cougars catcher Kyle Lovelace joined the Round Rock team late. A season-ending injury to the opening day catcher in the team’s first game of the season created a very quick opening on the roster for a backstop. Kyle has only played in four games at the halfway point. He caught all of Round Rock’s combined no-hitter on Thursday night, when three pitchers closed out the first half of their season by no-hitting the Acadiana Cane Cutters.

The only player in the Texas Collegiate League not playing for the Round Rock Hairy Men is right-hander Jaycob Deese who pitches for the Brazos Valley Bombers. The incoming transfer from Galveston College has made three starts at the halfway point of the season. In his most recent start, Deese tossed three scoreless innings, striking out four. It was his second consecutive three-inning start after having gone 2 1/3 innings in his first start. So far Deese has allowed three earned runs for a 3.24 ERA combined with eight strikeouts.

With half of the season left to play, there is a lot to look forward to. The Cougars players are getting valuable playing time in the TCL facing good opposition in one form or another on every team they play. For fans wanting to catch games, opportunities are few in number, but every ballpark is reachable the rest of the way, tickets are affordable, and all ballparks are taking plenty of precautions with regard to spectator safety.

The Hairy Men begin the second half of their season Friday night when they host the Amarillo Sod Dogs for a three-game weekend series. –

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. –

Houston Drops Series Finale in Arizona

Houston Cougars Derrick Cherry 3-8-2020
Derrick Cherry bats against Arizona Sunday in Tuscon.

TUCSON – The Houston Cougars entered Sunday’s rubber game with the Arizona Wildcats with a chance to get their first series win of the season.

Tanner Green took the mound in his first career start for the Cougars . . . Green would be the first of eight pitchers for Houston in the game, and Arizona took an early 2-0 in the bottom of the first inning . . . Robert Gasser would relieve Green in the second with two outs, he would end the inning and carry the Cougars into the sixth inning, going 3 1/3 and throwing 58 pitches in a very good outing.

Houston was scoreless going into the fourth when Tyler Bielamowicz hit a one-out triple down the right field line scored Kobe Hyland from second . . . The next batter, Rey Mendoza put a bunt in play on the right side of the infield and Mendoza was too quick to first for the defense which allowed Bielamowicz to cross the plate and tie the game at two.

In the Houston fifth, freshman Rey Mendoza hit a two-out homerun to right for the first homerun of his young career as a Cougar to tie the game at three . . . Mendoza hit a 1-1 pitch deep to right, which bounced off the side wall of a batting facility the Wildcats have just outside the right field fence . . . Brad Burckel countered with a solo homerun with one out in the sixth to give the Cougars a 4-3 advantage, the first lead of the game for the Cougars.

Arizona took the lead in the bottom of the seventh when multiple walks, multiple batters hit-by-pitch, and bad luck added up to an insurmountable situation and the Wildcats scored five runs to take a 9-4 lead . . . Arizona added a run in the eighth to take a 10-5 lead into the ninth.

Cole Ferguson pitched a nice 2/3 of inning getting some work in for the young pitcher in only his third appearance as a Cougar . . . And freshman Randy Garza got a little work in, making his first appearance as a Cougar getting the last out of the eighth.

The Cougars managed some baserunners in the ninth on walks to Dylan Post and Tyler Bielamowicz, a single by Ryan Hernandez would bring home a run to make the score 10-6, but that is where the offense stopped as Arizona took the weekend series two games to one.

The Cougars head to Las Vegas next for a two-game midweek matchup with UNLV . . . First pitch Tuesday night is at 8:05pm Central Time. –

Cougars Win Behind Aguilar, Cherry Pitching

Houston Cougars Clay Aguilar 3-7-2020
Clay Aguilar faces the Arizona Wildcats Saturday in Tucson.

TUSCON – After dropping Friday’s first game in Arizona on Friday night, the Houston Cougars needed many things to change in order to win Saturday’s second game against the Wildcats.

Houston went down in order in the top of the first, and Arizona made Houston starter Clay Aguilar work, but they only managed a single run in the first frame, thanks in part to an alert play at first base by Ryan Hernandez. With runners on first and second, a groundball has hit to Kobe Hyland’s right at shortstop . . . Hyland fielded and threw to first to get the batter, but the runner from second never stopped running, he rounded third and Hernandez was able to get him at the plate and prevent the run from scoring . . . Score it a 6-3-2 double-play.

Both teams remained scoreless into the fourth inning when the Cougars manufactured three runs . . . Brad Burckel put the first run across on a one-out double that scored Hernandez . . . With the game tied, Kobe Hyland singled two batters later to score Steven Rivas and Burckel as the Cougars took a 3-1 lead.

That was the extent of the scoring Saturday night, for either team.

Clay Aguilar threw  into the sixth inning going 5 2/3 with 96 pitches. This was not a typical, crisp Aguilar start as he walked five batters and hit another, but he kept the ball around the plate and kept it in the ballpark as the Wildcats also collected eight hits.

Carter Henry entered and got a strikeout to end the inning, stranding an inherited runner at first. In the seventh, Henry loaded the bases and gave way to Derrick Cherry . . . Two pitches later Cherry got his first batter to pop-up in the infield, and Cherry made the catch to end the bases-loaded threat.

Cherry was not done yet . . . He would double to left-center in the top of the eighth, but he would be left on basepaths . . . Cherry would go the final 2 1/3 innings to earn his second save of the season . . . He was aided by an outstanding catch by right-fielder Tyler Bielamowicz in the ninth inning near the warning track in right-center, he had to go a long way to get the ball and he made it look easy.

Clay Aguilar improved to 2-0 this year with the 3-1 victory . . . Cherry threw 35 pitches, 25 for strikes in earning the save.

The Cougars and the Wildcats meet Sunday at 2pm for a rubber game in Tucson before the Cougars move on to Las Vegas for a two-game midweek set with UNLV to conclude this road trip. –

Cougars Lose in Arizona, 7-1

Houston Cougars Tyler Bielamowicz 3-6-2020
Tyler Bielamowicz bats in the 6th inning Friday night in Tucson.

TUCSON – The Houston Cougars arrived in Arizona fresh off a win at Rice on Wednesday night, attempting to put together their first back-to-back wins on the young season. The Arizona Wildcats were having none of it.

The Cougars faced a typically strong Friday night starter in Arizona’s Garrett Irvin, and they were not able to get much going against the strong lefty.

Tyler Bielamowicz in the leadoff spot, seemed to have the only beat on Irvin and the rest of the Wildcats pitching staff, reaching base in all four of his plate appearances, twice on singles, once on a hit-by-pitch, and once on an error by the Arizona third baseman . . . It has been said many times in the history of the game, put the ball in play, and anything can happen . . . An error by the third baseman counts as “anything.”

Trailing 2-0 in the top of the fourth, Bielamowicz led off with one of his two singles, and Ryan Hernandez would single behind him. After a double-play put Bielamowicz at third, an error at second on a Rey Mendoza batted ball allowed Bielomowicz to score the Cougars only run of the night.

Arizona did not explode for a massive run-scoring inning at any point, but they nibbled and scored in five of their eight innings at the plate, flustering Cougar pitching, which also walked ten batters while striking out nine . . . Isaiah Blaylock had an effective outing, going 1 1/3 inning in relief of starter Lael Lockhart Jr., only allowing an unearned run and one hit.

Cole Ferguson came out of the bullpen for the eighth inning for only the second time this season, having just made his debut as a Cougar last Sunday against Texas State . . . Cole only allowed a single, which was subsequently wiped out on a double-play behind him, and he only threw a total of six pitches in the inning.

In the 7-1 Wildcats win, Arizona’s Irvin improved to 4-0 on the season with his 6 2/3 innings of work . . . Bielamowicz was the only Cougar with multiple hits, raising his batting average to .317 in the process.

The two teams square off again Saturday afternoon, first pitch is at 5pm Central Time from Tucson. –

Cougars Top Texas State 5-1

Houston Cougars Clay Aguilar 2-29-2020
Clay Aguilar throws the first pitch against Texas State Saturday night.

After a high-scoring affair on Friday night which yielded twenty-one runs, the Houston Cougars and the visiting Texas State Bobcats played a lower-key match on Saturday night at Schroeder Park.

Clay Aguilar got the start on the mound and he faced the minimum in the first frame, ending the inning on a grounder to Kobe Hyland that he handled himself in turning the inning-ending six-three double play . . . The Cougars did not waste any time getting runs on the board . . . With one out after a Derrick Cherry walk, Ryan Hernandez tripled to the right field corner to score Cherry, it was a good piece of opposite field hitting to give the Cougars an early 1-0 lead, their first lead of the series to that point.

In the third, Steven Rivas hit a one-out double, and Ryan Hernandez followed with a massive two-run homerun to Elgin . . . Not to be outdone, one out later Ian McMillan followed with a homerun of his own, a solo shot to left to put the Cougars up 4-0.

Bobcats were kept off the scoreboard until the top of the fifth when a solo homerun cut the Cougars lead to 4-1.

Freshman Luke Almendarez led off the bottom of the sixth with a single, he would steal second to get into scoring position . . . Kyle Lovelace hit a one-out single to center that scored Almendarez from second.

Clay Aguilar started the seventh inning, but after a leadoff single, he was lifted in favor of right-hander Isaiah Blaylock . . . Texas State batters would have two hit by pitches to load the bases and the Cougars went to the bullpen again . . . Tristen Bayless entered the game and threw three pitches, all three for strikes, and got a swinging strikeout . . . Bayless departed with one out and the bases still loaded in favor on Carter Henry . . . Henry got two big strikeouts, one called, one looking, and he killed the Bobcats rally as the game went to the seventh-inning stretch.

The ninth inning saw Henry back on the mound and he did not allow the Bobcats back in the game . . . All told, Henry faced and retired eight batters, five on them by strikeout in earning his first save of the season . . . Clay Aguilar six innigs and threw eighty-nine pitches as he picked up his first win of the season in the 5-1 victory.

The Cougars and the Bobcats conclude their series on Sunday with a rubber game at 2pm, this is the last time to see the Cougars at home for nearly two weeks as the team heads to Rice, Arizona, and Nevada. –

Cougars Fall to Tennessee in Round Rock

Round Rock Classic Cougars Beat

The Houston Cougars and the undefeated Tennessee Volunteers came into the second day of the inaugural Round Rock Classic having both won their opening games on Friday at Dell Diamond.

The Volunteers got on the board with three runs in the first off of Houston starter Clay Aguilar . . . Those would be the only runs until the fourth when Steven Rivas hit a two-run homerun to get the Cougars within one . . . For Rivas it was his second homerun on the season.

Houston would tie the game in the fifth when Ryan Hernandez hit a one-out double to the warning track that allowed Kobe Hyland to cross the plate . . . Clay Aguilar exited the game in the sixth as his pitch count reached 96, he went 5 1/3 striking out five and only allowing two earned runs . . . Tristen Bayless took the mound and got the final two outs of the inning to keep the game tied at three . . . Aguilar’s outing was quite good in the long run, stretching his start into the sixth kept the bullpen from being taxed too heavily.

The Cougars then took the lead in the sixth after Lael Lockhart Jr. got his first hit of the season to lead off the inning. Lockhart Jr. would score from second on an Ian McMillan infield single and a throwing error . . . It would be the only run of the inning as the Cougars took the 4-3 lead into the seventh.

Things came unraveled for the Cougars at that point as the Volunteers continued to get runners on base . . . Tennessee scored three in the seventh and two in the ninth to take an eventual 8-4 lead. 

Houston went hitless in its final three frames against Tennessee pitching . . . Ryan Hernandez was 2-for-3 on the afternoon, the only Cougar with multiple hits, and he got his season average up to .400 . . . It is worth noting that while Tyler Bielamowicz was 0-for-2 in the game, he was hit-by-pitch in his first two plate appearances and he continues to get on base for the Cougars so far this year . . .  The 8-4 loss dropped the Cougars to 2-3 on the young season.

The Cougars close out their action in the 2020 Round Rock Classic on Sunday at 3pm against Texas Tech. –

Cougars Defeat Stanford in Round Rock

Round Rock Classic Cougars Beat

The Houston Cougars opened up the inaugural Round Rock Classic with a win over the Stanford Cardinal on Friday night in Round Rock at Dell Diamond.

Stanford got on the board in the first with an early 1-0 lead off of Cougars starter Lael Lockhart Jr. . . .  The Cougars got the run back in their half of the second on a Blake Way sacrifice fly to left and the game was tied at one going into the fourth . . . For Way, it was the first of three RBI in the game.

The Cougars bottom of the fourth was an adventure for everyone at Dell Diamond . . . Houston sent eleven batters to the plate and eight of them reached base with seven of them scoring . . . The Cougars took advantage of three errors in the frame, including two on one play by Stanford’s first baseman . . . The inning also saw two stolen bases, one by Blake Way, the other by Brad Burckel . . . After the big inning, Houston took an 8-1 lead into the fifth.

Lockhart Jr. settled in after the allowing the run in the first inning and was crisp with his pitches and command into the fifth when he started to scuffle a bit . . . With two outs and the bases loaded, the Cougars went to Isaiah Blaylock who quickly shut down the threat with a strikeout and without allowing any runs to score.

Stanford once again loaded the bases in the sixth, this time with no one out, and Brayson Hurdsman was brought in from the bullpen and he escaped the inning with no damage done . . . The Cardinal would get three runs in their half of the seventh to make the score 8-4.

With the game still 8-4 in the bottom of the eighth, Ryan Hernandez hammered a no-doubt three-run homerun to put the Cougars back on top by eight heading into the ninth . . . Hernandez has homered in three of his first four games as a Cougar.

Tristen Bayless entered the game in the eighth and pitched the final two innings striking out three and securing for Lael Lockhart Jr. his first win on the season and a 1-0 record while the team evened its record at 2-2 . . . Leadoff batters reached base in six of the eight innings for the Houston offense, four of those were hits, one was a walk, and the other was a hit-by-pitch.

The Cougars return to action Saturday at 2pm at Dell Diamond against the Tennessee Volunteers. –

 

Cougars Fall in Finale, Series

Jared Pettitte throws the first pitch on Sunday at Schroeder Park.
Jared Pettitte throws the first pitch on Sunday at Schroeder Park.

The Houston Cougars dropped the rubber game against the visiting Youngstown State Penguins on Sunday afternoon at Schroeder Park . . . And for the second day in a row, the two teams needed extra innings to get things settled.

Jared Pettitte got the Sunday start and was sharp early, striking out the first two batters. Pettitte gave up a homerun in the second inning, and a manufactured run in the fifth.

The Cougars got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first. After Tyler Bielamowicz walked and then stole second, setting the table for Ryan Hernandez . . . Hernandez went deep to left field for a two-run homerun and an early 2-0 Cougars lead . . . For Hernandez it was his second homerun in as many games, and part of an impressive first series with the Cougars.

Fellow newcomer Steven Rivas added a three-run shot of his own in the third, concluding a four-run inning for the Cougars and giving them a 6-1 lead.

Pettitte lasted into the fifth, striking out four, and exited because of a pitch count with a 6-2 lead and one out . . . Tanner Green entered the game to get two outs to end the inning and pitched another three innings in relief.

The Penguins stormed back in the ninth with their backs against the wall. A three-run homerun got them within a run, and after a pitching change, a solo homerun tied the game at six . . . The Cougars offense could not answer back in the ninth, sending the game to the tenth inning.

The Penguins continued their late-inning heroics by putting the ball in play and executing flawlessly . . . They would load the bases with no one out, Houston would make a pitching change, but eventually two Penguins would score to take an 8-6 lead into the bottom of the tenth . . . Despite getting a runner on base, the Cougars could not crawl back and Youngstown State took finale and the series.

The Cougars hit the road now, and they open up the Round Rock Classic at Dell Diamond next Friday at 3pm. –