Houston was able to play the long game better than Texas Southern on Friday evening at Schroeder Park as the Cougars scored in each of their final four at-bats, nine runs in total after the fifth inning to take the 11-4 victory on opening night of their home schedule.
Kerry Wright was on the mound Friday afternoon for Houston after a disappointing opening start for him last Sunday in Scottsdale . . . After a scoreless first inning, Texas Southern scored in the second inning on a play that was close enough at the plate that it needed to be reviewed before it was confirmed.
The Cougars added two runs in the bottom of the second when Zach Arnold (2-for-4) singled with the bases loaded to put Houston in front 2-1.
The Tigers tied the game in the third . . . Wright gave way to Colby Casey in the fourth inning having struck out four in his three innings and allowing just the two earned runs . . . Casey went two scoreless innings in which he also did not allow a hit.
Houston catcher Anthony Tulimero, who is swinging a hot bat to start the season, is doing his part behind the plate as well, on Friday he had thrown out two base runners trying to steal, including speedy former Cougar Jonathan Thomas, by the end of the fifth inning.
With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the fifth, Samuel Tormos hit a drive deep the left that in normal conditions would have landed on Elgin . . . Instead, the drive off of Tormos’s bat was caught up against the left field wall and the ball was fired in to second base . . . Chaos ensued as the umpires gathered and tried to figure out what had just happened . . . Eventually, a run was counted as it crossed the plate before the runner was apparently called out at second for having left early trying to tag up . . . The inning came to an end on the double-play with the Cougars once again in the lead, 3-2.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Cougars added a run on a single by Ian McMillan (3-for-4) . . . Brandon Uhse keyed a three-run seventh inning with a two-out double off the right field wall to push the Cougar lead to 7-2 . . . Tulimero (3-for-5) drove in two more in the eighth with a double to right-center . . . An error on a fly to right field allowing another run was followed by a McMillan RBI single to left.
Jaycob Deese took the mound to start the sixth inning and his stuff was electric, despite the conditions outside . . . Deese struck out a career-high nine batters, of the twelve outs he recorded, in many cases he simply overpowered guys.
Head coach Todd Whitting was ecstatic about the performance from his right-hander out of the bullpen, “Difference in the game was Deese coming in and shutting down TSU.” Whitting added, “In those conditions tonight it took a tough competitor to come off the bench and give his team a great performance like he did.”
“Tuli has been exactly what we thought he would be coming into the season,” said head coach Todd Whitting after the game, “a great receiver and the ability to deliver at home plate in the clutch.” Of the runners Tulimero caught trying to steal Friday night, Whitting added. “His performance to shut down TSU’s running game was huge tonight.”
Casey (1-0) was the pitcher of record, so he picked up the win with Deese earning the save, his first of the season, with his four inning performance to finish the game . . . Ryan Hernandez was 3-for-5 in Friday’s game, and while the power numbers are not there yet, he is going to the gaps and hitting the ball hard.
Houston has won two straight games now and returns to action on Saturday afternoon against UT Rio Grande Valley, first pitch is at 4pm at Schroeder Park, with Nathan Medrano making his second start of the season.