Shutout in Orlando on Saturday

The story of Saturday’s game in Orlando, Florida between the Houston Cougars and the Central Florida Knights was told in the first inning.

The Cougars were set down in order to open the game . . . Then the Knights came to bat.

Central Florida hit a leadoff home run, and five singles followed while the Knights quickly took a 4-0 lead and chased starter Carter Henry from the game with only one out in the first, and the bases loaded . . . Left-hander Ryne Huggins was brought in from the bullpen, and aside from a hit batter that allowed a fifth run, got the final two outs and ended the inning.

Huggins got the game into the fifth, keeping the Knights from adding to their lead . . . Following a leadoff walk, Cherry relieved Huggins after 3 2/3 innings of hitless, scoreless baseball . . . Cherry faced three batters and got three outs to end the fifth, but the Cougars still trailed 5-0.

Cherry would depart after two innings of work, he did not allow a run or a hit and struck out one . . . A solo home run in the seventh would extend the Central Florida lead 6-0 . . . Cameron Prayer struck out the side in the seventh and Layne Looney pitched a scoreless eighth.

Freshman Samuel Tormos, batting in the two spot on Saturday, singled in the eighth to extend his consecutive games-reached streak to five games . . . The Cougars offense was unable to threaten the Central Florida pitching staff, collecting eight hits in the game, with no Cougars batter having multiple-hits, as they fell 6-0.

The Cougars and the Knights do it one more time tomorrow in Orlando, for Houston it will be game number 50 . . . First pitch will be at 3pm . . . Houston has not yet announced a starting pitcher. –

Houston Walks-Off Series Finale in 10

Luke Almendarez makes a throw to first in Sunday’s series finale with UTA

Fresh off a Saturday double-header, the Houston Cougars and UT-Arlington Mavericks needed one extra inning to settle Sunday’s series finale at Schroeder Park . . . The Cougars prevailed 5-4 in ten innings to split the weekend series as heavy clouds and sporadic rain showers held of just long enough.

The Mavericks wasted little time getting things going, a two-out single was followed by a two-run home run to right for an early 2-0 lead against Houston starter Ben Sears.

Houston leadoff hitter Brandon Uhse was attempting to bunt and instead got a pitch right in the mid-section of his body . . . He stayed in the game long enough to take his base and was eventually erased on an inning-ending double-play, but he left the game and Jonathan Thomas took his place in the batting order and in center field for the remainder of the game.

Steven Rivas led off the second inning by hitting the first pitch saw over the right field wall . . . The next three straight batters reached base for the Cougars on two singles and a walk . . . Samuel Tormos then hit a chopper to short and the fielders choice allowed Will Pendergrass to score from third . . . With Brad Burckel on third, Tormos took off for second in an attempt to steal second, Mavericks catcher Andrew Miller fired to second and Burckel broke for home, second baseman Tommy Williams was not able to field the throw cleanly, Burckel crossed home plate just moments before Tormos was thrown out at first base allowing the run to count and giving the Cougars a 3-2 lead.

Ben Sears got two outs in the sixth and after a walk he was relieved by Derrick Cherry . . . Cherry got a fly out to center to end the sixth frame for the Mavericks who stranded runners on second and third . . . Sears went 5 2/3 innings and only allowed the two earned runs in the first inning, he exited with the lead and the chance to win the game if the Houston lead held . . . Sunday’s outing was a solid rebound outing for Sears.

Derrick Cherry followed with a scoreless seventh, but the Mavericks tied the game in the eighth as they manufactured the unearned tying run . . . A scoreless ninth for both offenses sent the game to an extra frame.

In extra innings, with the rule in place that a runner starts on second base to begin each inning, the Mavericks immediately bunted their runner to third . . . A shallow fly to right-center was then caught by Steven Rivas and with the runner at third tagging, Rivas fired home, the throw was wide and Houston catcher Kyle Lovelace had to move to his right to field the ball and then dove toward the plate to attempt to get the runner, but the runner was ruled safe at home and UTA took a 4-3 lead.

The Cougars began their half of the tenth with pinch-runner Andrew Papantois on second base . . . Brad Burckel hit a slow roller up the first base line that the pitcher was unable to get a grip on, Papantonis moved to third on the play . . . It was Burckel’s second hit of the afternoon and he was the only Cougar with multiple hits . . . Ian McMillan followed with a single toward second base that the second baseman fielded but his throw to first as he was falling away from first was weak, and it allowed McMillan to reach on the single while Papantonis scored the tying run.

Kyle Lovelace came to the plate with no outs and runners on the corners . . . Lovelace bunted the first pitch between the mound and first base, the first baseman fielded with his glove and tossed the ball home in the same motion but Brad Burckel snuck in around the catchers tag attempt to score the winning run and give the Cougars a 5-4 win.

Ryne Huggins picked up the win, his first of the season, as the result of pitching 1/3 of an inning, ending the tenth . . . All told, Derrick Cherry pitched four innings and did not allow an earned run and added two strikeouts . . . In ten innings, the Cougars offense managed just six hits, but it was enough as five runs scored . . . The Cougars improve to 12-11 with the win Sunday and they spilt the series with the Mavericks; a series which featured thirteen home runs over the four games between the two squads.

The Cougars open conference play Thursday at Schroeder Park when they host Wichita State University for a four game series . . . The Easter weekend schedule will open with Thursday’s game beginning at 6:30pm, a double-header will be played on Friday beginning at 2pm, and the concluding game will begin at 11:30am on Saturday. –

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 Wallop Texas State 12-3 in San Marcos

Robert Gasser works against Texas State in San Marcos on Friday

San Marcos was the scene of a balanced pitching and offensive explosion from the Houston Cougars on Friday night against the  Texas State Bobcats . . . Texas State was fresh off a run-rule victory over top-rated TCU at Bobcat Ballpark in the midweek, while Houston entered the game after a 13-7 win in San Antonio on Wednesday.

Robert Gasser got his fourth consecutive Friday night start . . . A caveat, Gasser’s first start of the season in game won happened on a Saturday as a result of a weather cancellation . . . After a scoreless first inning, the Bobcats got on the board in the bottom of the second on a one-out single that gave them a 1-0 lead.

The Cougars offense finally got rolling in the third inning . . . Brandon Uhse tied things up with a double to left-center scoring Kyle Lovelace from first . . . Lovelace was on first as the result of a one-out single, one of two hits for Kyle in the game . . . Ryan Hernandez then singled to give the Cougars a 2-1 lead . . . Tyler Bielamowicz, who had reached base after being hit by a pitch, scored the third run of the inning on a wild pitch to give the Cougars a 3-1 lead.

In the top fourth, after singles by both Will Pendergrass and Ian McMillan, Brad Burckel tripled to right-center scoring two . . . A couple of batters later, Brandon Uhse brought Burckel home to score on a groundout to extend the lead to 6-1 . . . Houston batters were making Texas State starter Zach Leigh work, with high pitch counts and one particularly long at-bat by Brad Burckel in the third inning . . . As Leigh’s pitch count went up, so did the Cougars run total.

In the Houston half of the fifth, Ian McMillan hit a three-run blast deep to left-center to put the Cougars in front 9-1 . . . It was the third consecutive inning that the Cougars offense score three runs . . . “I thought overall that may have been the most complete game we played all year,” Head Coach Todd Whitting said after the game. “We just kept putting pressure on them all night.”

Gasser was cruising after the lone run allowed in the second inning, he tossed six complete innings, allowed just the one run and struck out ten, a new season high, which was previously seven strikeouts . . . Layne Looney and Ryne Huggins pitched the seventh inning in relief of Gasser.

Texas State got two back in the bottom of the seventh to pull to within 9-3 . . . The Houston offense then went back to work . . . With two outs in the top of the eighth, Kyle Lovelace singled to right-center . . . Brandon Uhse then hit a grounder that was fielded cleanly at short, but the flip to second was dropped and two were on as a result of the error . . . Tyler Bielamowicz then hit a ground-rule double to left-center to score one run, by rule a sure second run was not allowed, and Uhse was placed on third base  . . . Steven Rivas followed with his only hit of the night, a single to right plating two more runs and giving the Cougars a 12-3 advantage.

Jaycob Deese entered the game to start the eighth inning and threw two scoreless innings to close out the Cougars win . . . Robert Gasser picked up the win as the left-hander improved to 2-1. “He was again, pretty electric tonight,” said Coach Whitting of his Friday night starter. “He was outstanding tonight, I’m really proud of him.”

The Cougars offense scored three runs in four different frames on Friday night . . . Ryan Hernandez had three base hits and was one of the three Cougars with multiple hits in the game, along with Ian McMillan and Kyle Lovelace who each had two hits . . . Houston is now 9-4 in 2021 and has won the first two games of this four game road trip.

The Cougars and the Bobcats return to action on Saturday in San Marcos . . . Ben Sears will take the mound for Houston, first pitch is at 2:30pm. –

(Thank you to Houston Athletics for help with the Coach Whitting quotes.)

Cougars Open Road Trip with 13-7 Win

The Houston Cougars opened a four game road trip in San Antonio against University of the Incarnate Word on Wednesday night with a 13-7 victory . . . After scoring only four runs in the entire weekend series against Texas, the Cougars scored five runs in the first inning, and they would score five runs in two different innings on Wednesday.

Ryan Hernandez hit a one-out home run to center field to give the Cougars a quick 3-0 lead . . . For Hernandez it was his first home run since he hit two on opening day . . . Ian McMillan a few batters later hit an RBI single to increase the Cougar lead 4-0 . . . Catcher Dylan Post followed with a sacrifice fly to left that gave the Cougars a 5-0 lead and the Cougars eventually batted around in the first.

The Cardinals went to the bullpen to start the second and they kept the Cougars off the scoreboard until the sixth inning, as their offense clawed them back into the game . . . UIW scored three in the third off Houston starter Blake Schultz, but Houston held on to a 5-3 lead.

Blake Schultz took the game into the fifth inning, but he was relieved by Ryne Huggins after 4 2/3 innings and six strikeouts . . . The Cardinals tied the game at five in the bottom half of the fifth . . . Jaycob Deese relieved Huggins and got a strikeout to end the fifth and stop the bleeding at that point . . . Despite a no-decision, it was a solid outing for Schultz, the first-year Cougar.

In the top half of the sixth, Tyler Bielamowicz hit a two-out single to center, his third hit of the game at that point, Steven Rivas then hit a pop-up toward second that seemed like it was going to end the inning, but the catch was not made and Bielamowicz, who was moving the entire time, scored from first on the error as the Cougars took a 6-5 lead.

After ending the fifth, Deese followed with a scoreless sixth . . . UIW then tied the game again in the seventh inning.

With the game again tied in the top of the eighth, and with one out, the top of the Cougars order went to work . . . Bielamowicz collected his fourth hit in a 4-for-6 effort, Rivas singled and plated a run, Hernandez singled to score another, his fourth RBI on the night as he also went 3-for-4 . . . Will Pendergrass then doubled and picked up a RBI as Rivas scored . . . Ian McMillan singled and increased the lead to 11-6 heading to the bottom of the eighth.

Derrick Cherry took the mound looking to protect the lead, he struck out the three batters he faced in the eighth . . . After the Cougars added two more runs in the top of the ninth to build a 13-6 lead, Cherry returned to the mound for the ninth . . . UIW added a run in the ninth on a turf-bouncer that just got over the reach of Brad Burckel at second, but Cherry closed it out a few pitches later with his fifth strikeout in two innings pitched.

The Cougars moved to 8-4 on the season with the 13-7 win, and Jaycob Deese (1-1-1) picked up his first win of the season and as a Cougar.

The Cougars now move the road trip to San Marcos where they will be hosted by the Texas State Bobcats for a three game series this weekend . . . Robert Gasser will take the ball for Houston making his fourth start of the season . . . First pitch is at 6:30pm on Friday. –

Cougars Walk-Off Winners in 11 Over UT

Ben Sears throws the first pitch of Saturday’s game at Schroeder Park

The Houston Cougars took the field on Saturday afternoon having not scored a run since last Sunday in Corpus Christi . . . While runs were hard to come by on Saturday, the Cougars got one more than the Texas Longhorns did in an eleven inning thriller at Schroeder Park.

Kyle Lovelace drove in the first run of the game in the bottom of the second when he hit a two-out single to center to score Samuel Benjamin to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead . . . Lovelace was 1-for-5 on the afternoon but was again a vacuum behind the plate and caught the only Longhorn that attempted to steal a base.

Ben Sears worked 5 1/3 innings as he got the start for the third time this season . . . Sears only allowed two runs and struck out six and left the game as a would-be losing pitcher if things remained as they were . . . It worked out differently.

Ryne Huggins entered the game, after Layne Looney faced a batter, to get the final out of the sixth, but the Longhorns had taken a 2-0 lead at that point.

Samuel Benjamin had two hits in this game, a single in the second, and a two-out double to left-center in the sixth which led to Texas going to their bullpen for the first time of the weekend . . . Will Pendergrass welcomed the new pitcher by lining a triple to the wall in right-center scoring Benjamin and tying the game . . . Head Coach Todd Whitting mentioned earlier in the week that Benjamin and Pendergrass were the future of the program, comparing them to Rivas and Hernandez, the duo looked the part on Saturday afternoon.

Steven Rivas returned to the line-up after only appearing once in a one at-bat pinch-hitting role in Friday nights 1-0 defeat . . . Rivas was 1-for-5 with a single to right field in the seventh that looked to be part of a potential rally, but was foiled soon after . . . The Cougars again threatened when they loaded the bases in the eighth but that rally ended with a strikeout.

Jaycob Deese pitched three scoreless innings in relief to move the game along and he was dominating . . . Deese was consistently throwing 92 plus and ended his first inning of work on a 97mph fastball . . . Overall Deese struck out five and allowed both a hit and a walk and saw his ERA drop to 2.03 . . . Blake Schultz took the mound in the tenth and eleventh and blanked Texas in both . . . Discussing the bullpen’s effort on Saturday, Head Coach Todd Whitting said, “For those guys to come in and throw strikes like they did, it was huge for us to give us a chance to win that game.”

With one out in the eleventh, Tyler Bielamowicz hit an 0-1 pitch over the left-field fence off of Texas pitcher Aaron Nixon to send the Cougars home with a 3-2 victory . . . Bielamowicz was 1-for-4 with two walks on Saturday, but the one was a big one . . . After the celebration at home plate, Tyler was quick to heap praise on his teammates for the win, “Ben Sears pitched a hell of a game today. The guys coming out of the pen pitched a hell of a game.” “Benjamin and Pendergrass had some good late hits to get the rally going.”

Blake Schultz picked up the win to improve to 2-0 with his two innings of late relief work . . . Schultz has been the Sunday starter to begin the season, but having pitched on Saturday now, there is a change afoot for Sunday’s game, no decision on who will start Sunday has been announced yet.

Coach Whitting said after the game about the series with Texas, “That’s a resume builder is what that is. And tomorrow we have to get right back to it and keep building that resume.” “This is resume-building time of year and that’s why they’re on the schedule.”

The Longhorns and Cougars return to action on Sunday afternoon at 1:30 for the rubber match at Schroeder Park, both teams have scored just three runs each in the first two games . . . Asked how his team can win on Sunday, Tyler Bielamowicz said, “Energy. Sunday is all about energy.” –

Cougars Win in 10, Improve to 6-1

The Houston Cougars offense had to settle for ten fewer runs than they scored on Saturday night in a record-setting performance, but with the help of outstanding pitching, four runs were enough to eek out a one-run victory in ten innings on Sunday at Whataburger Field.

Blake Schultz got the Sunday start for the Cougars and went four scoreless innings while his offense was also being blanked by the other side . . . Schultz received some aid from his catcher as Kyle Lovelace caught two runners attempting to steal second in the second inning, and caught another in the third to end the inning.

Schutlz and the rest of the Cougars pitching staff was being matched by Islanders starter Hayden Thomas who pitched into the ninth inning before being lifted, but not before he struck out twelve Cougars while only walking one and scattering nine hits.

Cameron Prayer picked up an inning of work relieving Schultz in the fifth and ended the inning without allowing a run . . . Sean Bretz took the mound for the sixth and kept the game scoreless . . . With the game still scoreless, Bretz started the seventh but left with the bases loaded and no outs having allowed the Islanders to take a 1-0 on a throwing error, a situation that Layne Looney inherited . . . The Islanders plated another run on a sacrifice fly to take a 2-0 into the eighth.

Brad Burckel finally got the Cougars on the scoreboard in the eighth when he hit a solo homerun with one out, his second home run in as many games and his third of the young season . . . The Islanders got the run right back in the bottom of the frame with a leadoff home run to make the score 3-1 . . . Ryne Huggins then entered the game and ended the Islanders attempt to pad their lead.

Tyler Bielamowicz led off the bottom of the ninth with a home run to draw the Cougars to within a run, part of a 4-for-5 Sunday for the Cougars senior . . . The Cougars loaded the bases with the help of a couple of errors by the Islanders defense, then Dylan Post grounded into a double play that scored the game-tying run . . . Derrick Cherry took the mound for the ninth and kept the Islanders at bay, sending the game into extras.

In the Cougars half of the tenth, with the customary extra-innings runner being placed on second, in this case it was Brad Burckel, Brandon Uhse doubled to score Burckel and give the Cougars a 4-3 lead . . . The Cougars took that lead to the bottom of the inning, Derrick Cherry again took the mound, this time with the aforementioned runner on second . . . Cherry picked up two strikeouts but loaded the bases with a walk and a hit batter . . . However, Cherry got a bases-loaded groundout to end the game in ten . . . Cherry earned the save in the 4-3 victory.

The Cougars have the next two days away from play and will travel to Beaumont on Wednesday to take on Lamar University at 6pm . . . The Cougars will then look to improve on their 6-1 record to begin 2021, before returning home next weekend to host the Texas Longhorns.

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.