Houston Offensive Woes Continue, Shutout by TCU

Houston pitcher Jose Torrealba pitches to TCU on Sunday in Scottsdale

The Houston Cougars finished their opening weekend in Scottsdale, Arizona by being shut out 10-0 by TCU on Sunday . . . In a game that began in the morning but was completed in the early afternoon, Houston fell behind in the first frame and never got going offensively.

Five walks in the first inning by Houston starting pitching put the Horned Frogs in front to stay . . . The Cougars had to go to the bullpen in the first inning and newcomer Jose Torrealba was able to stop the bleeding . . . Torrealba took a liner off his lower body in the third inning before he had recorded an out, and Jose left the game as a result.

Jaycob Deese stepped in and provided a solid outing over five innings while saving the bullpen from overuse in the final two games of the MLB4 Tournament.

Leading 8-0 in the eighth, TCU plates two more runs in the bottom frame to end the game on the run-rule, which is usually in place for Sunday games.

Offensively, Houston struggled all weekend . . . On Sunday, Ryan Hernandez was 2-for-4 and Samuel Benjamin was 2-for-3, the two account for half of the teams hits.

Houston now heads to Lake Charles, Louisiana where they will face the McNeese State Cowboys on Tuesday at 6:00pm . . . The Cougars will open up their home schedule at Schroeder Park on Friday at 6:30pm against Texas Southern before squaring off with UT Rio Grande Valley on Saturday and Sunday.

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Medrano Dominates in Debut, Cougars Drop 2022 Opener

A new look Houston Cougars squad took the field for the first time in 2022 against the Cal Golden Bears in Scottsdale, Arizona on Friday afternoon to open the MLB4 Tournament . . . Friday’s starting lineup featured six players new to the Cougars program, including one true freshman, two second year players with minimal playing experience in 2021, along with Ryan Hernandez and Ian McMillan as the only guys with extensive experience.

Right-hander Nathan Medrano, a junior college transfer, got the starting nod for Houston and he did not disappoint in his debut.

The Cougars offense had to deal with a tough starting pitcher for Cal in Josh White, one of the nations highest touted right-handers.

Both teams were scoreless through the sixth inning, Cal had gone to the bullpen with one out in the sixth as White’s pitch count climbed close to eighty pitches . . . Medrano remained in the game and surrendered his only run of the game in the seventh inning before finishing the inning just shy of eighty pitches.

Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Cougars took advantage of a walk to Anthony Tulimero followed by an error on a ball put in play by Samuel Benjamin . . . With runners at first and second and two outs, pinch-hitter Cameron Nickens hit a grounder to the right side of the pitcher’s mound, which was fielded cleanly by Cal’s Chris Stamos, but Stamos threw wide of first base and eventually both base runners scored and Nickens stopped at third base and the Cougars led 2-1.

A solo home run in the ninth off of closer Derrick Cherry tied the game at two and after a scoreless bottom of the ninth, the two teams moved into the tenth inning . . . The Golden Bears plated two in the tenth which the Cougars were unable to match as they suffered the extra inning defeat to open the season.

For Medrano, his seven inning performance was the most innings by a Houston starter on Opening Day since Valentine’s Day 2014 when Aaron Garza went seven against Nicholls State . . . Medrano only allowed three hits and walked one while striking out six.

Head coach Todd Whitting was obviously pleased with what he saw from Medrano. “Thought Medrano gave us a great opportunity to win,” said Whitting, adding that Medrano had “excellent execution of all of his pitches and competed every pitch.” Whitting added, “He is going to be a great Friday night guy for us the rest of the way.”

Samuel Tormos started Friday in center field and made the play of the day when he tracked down a long fly ball to end the sixth inning behind Medrano . . . Tormos, going to his right and toward the wall in deep left-center, had to leave his feet and catch the ball back-handed as his face and body crashed into the wall before he went to the ground.

The Cougars will take the field again on Saturday at 6pm Central Time against San Diego State, that game could start a little later if the game prior runs long . . . Logan Clayton will make the start for Todd Whitting’s squad, making his first appearance in a Cougars uniform . . . No word yet on who will pitch Sunday’s finale with TCU, but the Cougars only used two pitchers in ten innings on Friday, so they have a lot of options going into the final two games in Scottsdale.

Cougars Late Inning Effort Not Enough Against TCU

Friday's first pitch from Nick Lodolo to Brad Burckel. Photo by @CougarsBeat
Friday’s first pitch from Nick Lodolo to Brad Burckel.
Photo by @CougarsBeat

Minute Maid Park played host to the “visiting” Houston Cougars and the TCU Horned Frogs in the Shriners College Classic on Friday afternoon . . . USA Today has TCU ranked at #17 and Baseball America has TCU ranked #24 in the nation entering into the weekend . . . With the ballpark roof closed, all that was left was the action on field, once it got underway.

The game got off to an awkward beginning . . . After the initial warmup pitches and catchers toss down to second base, the umpires did not want to start the game earlier than the 3:05 announced start time, so the Frogs had to stand around on the field and wait for about three minutes for first pitch . . . The Frogs heated up very quickly after that.

The Cougars sent lefty Tyler Bielamowicz to the mound on Friday . . . The Frogs would strike first on a two-out three-run homerun off of Bielamowicz in a 24 pitch first inning.

TCU left-hander, Nick Lodolo, who measures 6’6″ tall, was dominant all day . . . Lodolo needed only 34 pitches to get through the first nine of the Cougars order for a perfect opening three innings . . . Lodolo would be perfect thru four innings, retiring the first fourteen batters he faced before Cougars shortstop Kobe Hyland would reach base on a single in the fifth . . . Lodolo offered a lethal mix of power and movement against the Cougars to get through seven innings of nearly perfect baseball, striking out thirteen along the way.

Tyler Bielamowicz would exit in the fourth after continued trouble, including a second three-run homerun, and sitting at 73 pitches . . . Nolan Bond would enter the game at that point, and he was one of the bright spots for the Cougars on the day . . . Bond went three innings when his team really needed him, and while he gave up two runs, which scored with the help of some defensive miscues and a runner left on base allowed to score by Bond’s successor, his outing was solid even if the box score appears not to reflect that.

Jared Triolo hit his first homerun of the season into the Crawford boxes in the seventh inning . . . The first run of the day for the Coogs . . . Once Nick Lodolo left the game after seven innings pitched, the Cougars were able to piece together some offense against the Frogs bullpen . . . The Cougars plated three in the ninth and had the bases loaded for Joe Davis with two outs . . . Davis hit a drive to left-center that made Coogs fans hold their breath for a moment, but TCU’s center fielder would catch the final out on the warning track . . . In the end a 9-1 deficit was too much to make up as the Coogs evened their record at 4-4 on the season in the 10-6 loss.

The Cougars return to action tomorrow morning at Minute Maid Park, first pitch is at 11am against the Texas State Bobcats.

 

Newspaper column version of this recap