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. –

Houston Drops UT Series in Sunday Finale

Tyler Bielamowicz facing Texas in the 6th inning Sunday

For as well as the Houston Cougars played on Friday and Saturday, the final result in Sunday’s 8-2 loss at Schroeder Park was not indicative of the rest of the series, especially the pitching.

Texas got on the scoreboard quickly on Sunday, plating four runs on only one hit in an inning that included four walks and a crucial error with the bases loaded.

Will Pendergrass hit a one-out double in the second, and he was quickly advanced to third on a wild pitch . . . Moments later Ian McMillan brought Pendergrass home on a sacrifice fly to center to get the Cougars on the board as they trailed 4-1.

Kyle Lovelace led off the third inning with a hustle-double to left-center, he never slowed down on what could have been just a single . . . Lovelace then advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Brandon Uhse groundout to shortstop . . . The lead was cut in half to 4-2 at the end of the third.

Andrew Belcik and Carter Henry both provided solid efforts when they needed to . . . Belcik went 2 1/3 innings and Henry went 2 2/3 innings, the two were only separated by 1/3 of an inning by Sean Bretz . . . Overall the staff allowed ten walks and only seven hits on Sunday.

Cougars offense was mostly stymied all afternoon striking out twelve times and only garnering four walks and five hits . . . The three and four spots were 0-for-8 with four strikeouts against the Longhorns pitchers that kept them off balance.

Freshman Dravin Barber picked up his first collegiate strikeout in 1 2/3 innings of scoreless pitching out of the bullpen . . . Layne Looney followed Barber and pitched the final 1 1/3 innings to close out the afternoon for the pitching staff . . . A combined six pitchers pitched out of the bullpen on Sunday, a luxury somewhat afforded by the close games of the last two days and starting pitchers going late into innings both days.

A Texas home run in the top of the ninth increased the Texas lead to 8-2, the Cougars only sent three batters to the plate in the ninth, Sykler Trevino reached on a leadoff walk, but was erased shortly after on a double-play started by the Texas shortstop . . . The loss drops the Cougars record to 7-4.

Kyle Lovelace also threw out the only attempted base-stealer of the afternoon, continuing to remove runners from the bases . . . After the game, Lovelace was asked about his work, and he was quick to credit others, “I pride myself on defense, that’s what got me here.” “I wouldn’t be able to do the things that I do without the guys that we have on this team,” Lovelace said as he heaped praise on the pitching staff’s ability to hold runners by being quick to the plate, and the middle infielders being quick with tags.

“I thought for two games we competed like crazy. Like I told the team after the game, if we lose we lose as long as we play hard, but I don’t think we competed well today,” Head Coach Todd Whitting said after the loss. “We’ve just got to turn the page on this week.”

The Cougars have a couple of days away from game action as the new week starts, they head to San Antonio on Wednesday to take on University of the Incarnate Word . . . First pitch in San Antonio is at 6:30pm. –

Future Cougar: Skyler Trevino

Skyler Trevino bats for the Whitehouse Wildcats
Skyler Trevino bats for the Whitehouse Wildcats

Like many other high school and college programs around the country, the second week of March 2020 proved to be interesting, and eventually disappointing, with a lot of uncertainty and unanswered questions in between.

That was the case for Houston Cougars signee Skyler Trevino and his Whitehouse Wildcats baseball team.

The Wildcats were out of town for a three-day tournament when after the opening day action of the tournament on Thursday, schools started to pull away for the sake of caution and they returned home. Whitehouse was mere days away from their district action beginning on the following Tuesday, and they wanted to stay sharp. 

Coaches and schools started emailing around to find willing opponents. West Rusk, a 3A school from New London, Texas, about a 30-minute drive directly east from Whitehouse, was willing to travel to take on their 5A neighbor.

On Friday, March 13, Whitehouse blanked the West Rusk Raiders 5-0 in a 7pm game. There was momentary joy for the Wildcats. “After that game was when we got the news,” Skyler said. “It was only supposed to be for two weeks.” Three weeks and counting now, Trevino and his Wildcats teammates are still waiting. For Skyler on a personal level, the pause in the season happened at a bad time as he was just heating up having hit a homeurn in each of the final three games

For the time being, Trevino has a full gym at home and he is working out every day. He joins some buddies every few days at the little league park where they throw and hit in the cages. It is the best they can do right now, given the circumstances.

Skyler Trevino has played football for as long as he has played baseball. For the last two seasons, he played free safety for the Wildcats football team. Over those two seasons in 22 games he made 44 solo tackles and took part in another 10. As if that was not enough, Skyler also took the field as a wide receiver for his senior season. In 12 games he caught 35 passes for 704 yards and 7 touchdowns. Trevino handled some kick-off and punt returns for good measure as well.

But the dream, is baseball. It has been that way since he began going to Texas Rangers games in Arlington as a kid. Recollecting going to games at The Ballpark in Arlington, Skyler said, “Just watching the games and being in that ballpark and that atmosphere, baseball has always been something I wanted to do since then. I’ve always had a strong love for the game and just always enjoyed playing it a lot.” He continued, “I’ve always dreamed of going to play baseball somewhere.”

That somewhere will be the University of Houston starting this summer, or maybe the fall. No one has all the answers right now, and everyone is having to wait and see, ready and willing to adapt, but staying prepared for the time being. Baseball will happen again.

Houston was not Skyler’s first baseball offer, but it was the first and only offer he accepted. He made an official visit to the campus and the baseball facilities in his junior year. He watched a game at Schroeder Park and saw the new baseball facility still under construction at the time. He was beyond impressed with the coaches and committed to the Cougars shortly after the visit. “It felt right,” he says without hesitation. “I felt Houston was a good place for me to be.”

Greg Branch, the head baseball coach at Whitehouse, speaking of his star senior said, “Skyler is a leader and all of his teammates look up to him. He was a standout football player as well as one of the best left-handed bats I’ve ever coached.  He was the perfect example of what we want our program to look like and he will do great things at the University of Houston.”

Skyler Trevino plays infield for Whitehouse
Skyler Trevino plays infield for Whitehouse

When baseball happens again, Skyler Trevino will be one of the new faces of the program on campus. He will keep working toward that dream of playing baseball in his own way until he reports to the University of Houston, at which point the dream continues to unfold.

Coach Branch added about Skyler, “I asked him recently what do you think you will play at the University of Houston and he said, ‘Coach I’ll play whatever they want me to play.’ That’s the kind of kid you are getting.” –