Houston defeated the South Florida Bulls by a final of 6-5 on Friday afternoon in Tampa, Florida to take the opening game of their weekend conference series. The start time for the game was moved up several hours because of threatening weather, so the first pitch actually took place just after 11am Houston time.
Jaycob Deese got the Friday start once again for the Cougars and he was sharp early, kept his pitch count respectable and despite a couple of mistake pitches, gave Houston a great start that positions them well for the rest of the weekend with regard to the bullpen.
Anthony Tulimero led off the second inning by walking to be the Cougars first base runner of the afternoon . . . Cameron Nickens doubled to the gap in right-center to score Tulimero and give the Cougars the early lead . . . Ryan Hernandez then singled into right against the shift to plate Nickens and Houston led 2-0 going to the bottom of the inning . . . Tulimero extended his current reached-base streak to thirteen games, he had a similar streak to begin the season that spanned the first fifteen games before it ended on March 13.
Trailing 3-2 in the top of the sixth, Houston got a one-out double from Alex Lopez to start a rally . . . A hit batter and a fielders choice loaded the bases and the Cougars tied the game on a wild pitch . . . Hernandez then drove a ball into left field allowing Tulimero to tag up from third base on the sacrifice fly and Houston led 4-3.
Samuel Tormos (2-for-3) led off the seventh with a single and Tab Tracy entered the game to pinch run for Tormos . . . Tracy stole second and was driven home on a double by Brandon Uhse off the wall in left field . . . Zach Arnold (2-for-5) followed with a single up the middle that scored Uhse and the Cougars had a 6-3 lead.
Ben Sears replaced Deese with two outs in the seventh inning to record the final seven outs leading by a pair of runs . . . After posting a zero in the eighth, the Bulls got a run off Sears in the ninth inning to narrow the deficit, but Sears got a key ground out and a fly ball to center to secure the 6-5 victory . . . Deese improved to 4-2 on the season with the win, and the save was the ninth for Sears.
The Cougars improved to 27-15 overall and 8-5 in The American . . . The eighth conference win surpasses the seven conference victories in all of 2021 with eleven conference games left to play this season.
Weather has moved the schedule around quite a bit this weekend, the Cougars and the Bulls will play the middle game of their series on Saturday morning, first pitch from Tampa is scheduled for 9am . . . Left-hander Kyle LaCalameto will be on the mound for Houston.