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 Win at Rice, 6-4

Houston Cougars 3-4-2020 via FERGTEXAS409
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

Houston Cougars Spencer Hynes 2-25-2020
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. –

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 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. –

Cougars Begin 2020 With 7-3 Win

Lael Lockhart Jr. delivers the first pitch of 2020 on Friday night at Schroeder Park.
Lael Lockhart Jr. delivers the first pitch of 2020 on Friday night at Schroeder Park.

The Houston Cougars under Todd Whitting have a strong record on opening weekends, and Friday night at Schroeder Park was no exception . . . The Cougars played host to the Youngstown State Penguins to get the 2020 campaign underway.

Lael Lockhart Jr. got the Friday night start, a familiar role for him after taking over as the Friday night starter last season . . . Lockhart was perfect through three innings with six strikeouts . . . Lockhart surrendered his first hit and run both in the fourth . . . An inning later, as some tough luck and defensive miscues took place behind him, Lockhart would exit as the Cougars fell behind for the first time in the game.

Junior college transfer Ryan Hernandez introduced himself to the Cougars fans in a big way . . . In his first at-bat, Hernandez drove a pitch deep to left-center to score Brad Burckel all the way from first and give Houston a 1-0 lead . . . Hernandez’s next two plate appearances each resulted in singles, at that point Youngstown State had seen enough, they issued an intentional pass in his next at-bat.

Brayson Hurdsman was outstanding out of the bullpen for the Cougars going the final four innings and striking out six along the way.

In the sixth inning, junior transfer Steven Rivas used his first plate appearance as a Cougar to hit a bases loaded sacrifice fly to right to tie the game . . . Ian McMillan then punched a single into right field to give the Cougars a 4-3 lead.

Senior Tyler Bielamowicz got his final Cougars campaign off to a hot start with a 2-for-3 performance that included a walk . . . Bielamowicz drove in three runs on the night, including two in the seventh that placed some distance between the Cougars and the Penguins.

1,074 fans braved the chilly night of baseball and the home team delivered a 7-3 victory . . . The two teams return to the field at Schroeder Park on Saturday night at 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.

Takeaways from 2019 Fall Exhibition, Game 2

Houston Cougars vs UIW 10-27-2019

The Houston Cougars welcomed several recent friendly faces as part of the University of the Incarnate Word baseball team to Schroeder Park on Sunday afternoon . . . Former Cougars assistant and third base coach Ryan Shotzberger is now the head coach at UIW . . . He took with him Kyle Winkler who was a Cougars coach for a few weeks before Shotzberger took over in San Antonio and Winkler followed him.

Three UIW players were on the Cougars roster earlier this year; Ron Brown, Drew Minter, and Landon Etzel . . . All three saw action in Sunday’s exhibition.

An important thing to remember about the exhibition games is that they are quite literally for the development of the players and nothing more . . . The scores are meaningless . . . The teams played 11 innings on Sunday just because they wanted to . . . The Cougars batting lineup, was twelve players deep, and toward the end of the exhibition, players were literally being plucked out of the dugout to bat in situations that were good for them, even if it meant they had just batted in the previous inning and several spots in the order were skipped.

One of the most interesting situations occurred when the Cougars came to bat in an inning, and before anyone even stepped up to the plate, a base runner was placed at first base for situational practice . . . The pitcher got to work from the stretch, the runner attempted a steal, and was thrown out at second . . . Fun for everyone.

So that brings us back to the highlights and lowlights of Sunday’s action.

Blake Way got the Cougars offense on the board in the third with a homerun to left field . . . Kobe Hyland hit a homerun to straightaway center in the eighth, a ball that hit the batters eye on the lower right corner just above the wall, it was an impressive show of power from the Cougars shortstop, the ball landed to the left of one of the 390 feet signs on the wall in center.

Bryson Hill hit a triple to right to score two runs in the seventh . . . Steven Rivas hit a triple to center which was a tremendous blast that continued to carry further and further off the bat . . . The triple brought home two runners.

Ryan Hernandez walked once and was hit-by-pitch twice, and he stole second base after being hit the second time . . . He continues to be a solid presence at the plate in just his second game with the Cougars.

Luke Almendarez made the defensive play of the game at second base . . . A slow-moving ball was hit toward the right side of the second base bag, Almendarez fielded the ball and falling toward left field threw across his body and just got the runner at first . . . It was a gold star play by the freshman.

Seven Coogs shared in pitching the eleven frames on Sunday . . . Carter Henry started the game and went one scoreless inning . . . Nick Rupp, Robert Gasser, and Isaiah Blaylock each followed with two innings . . . Spencer Hynes pitched 1 1/3 innings with Tristen Bayless going 1 2/3 innings . . . Brayson Hurdsman handled the final inning of work.

All in all, the teams each technically plated seven runs in the final exhibition game of the fall for the Houston Cougars . . . The Cougars will play the Red vs. White game this next Friday, November 1 at 6pm at Schroeder Park . . . Admission is free, these games always prove to be interesting affairs.