Houston Loses Conference Championship Opener

An unconventional day at BayCare Ballpark in Clearwater, Florida met the Houston Cougars and the Tulane Green Wave as they got the American Athletic Conference Championship play underway.

The first game of the day saw the two middle-rank teams, four and five, combine for twenty-four runs in a game that took nearly four hours . . . The second game saw the top-ranked team get run-ruled in seven innings 11-1 by the last seed in the championship, so anything seemed possible on day one.

Robert Gasser took the mound for Houston and he and his counterpart for the Tulane Green Wave worked quickly and moved the game along with few, if any, baserunners.

The Cougars got their first hit in the fifth on a Ryan Hernandez single to left . . . Two batters later, Will Pendergrass snuck a single through the right side and the Cougars had a threat mounting . . . But a double play started by the shortstop ended the inning.

Tulane played small-ball in the sixth and took a 1-0 lead on a sacrifice bunt after two singles started the inning and a sacrifice bunt put runners in scoring position.

Hernandez hit a two-out solo home run to left-center in the seventh to tie the game on a 0-1 pitch.

The Green Wave countered with a two-out solo home run of their own in the seventh to take the lead again.

Tulane went to the bullpen with one out in the eighth, but the Cougars fate was the same: stymied by solid pitching.

Tulane added two more runs in the eighth as they go to Gasser late, he exited after 7 1/3 innings and ten strike outs . . . Ben Sears took the mound with a runner on second and eventually ended the inning without further damage.

Tulane shut down Houston in the ninth to claim the 4-1 victory . . . Hernandez (2-for-3) was the only Cougar with multiple hits, he had two of the Cougars four hits.

The Cougars will return to action on Wednesday in Clearwater, they will face the loser of tonight’s game between South Florida and Wichita State . . . First pitch will be 47 minutes after the final out of the game that starts at 2pm CT . . . Expect to see Jaycob Deese on the mound for Houston as they seek to continue their season with a win. –

Houston Drops Two as Tulane Continues Hot Streak

Three notable streaks were on the line as the Houston Cougars traveled to Turchin Stadium in New Orleans for a four-game American Athletic Conference (AAC) set this weekend with the Tulane Green Wave.

Tulane as a team entered play with a ten game winning streak . . . Tulane leadoff hitter Collin Burns entered with a seventeen game hitting streak . . . And catcher Bennett Lee entered with a sixteen game hitting streak.

There was also a great pitching matchup to open the weekend between Tulane’s Braden Olthoff and Houston’s Robert Gasser, two premiere pitchers not only in the AAC, but in all of college baseball.

Lefty Robert Gasser retired Collin Burns to open the bottom of the first before three straight singles plated the first run of the game, and Tulane led 1-0.

Houston did not get its first hit off of Olthoff until the fourth inning, the first of only five hits in the game. Meanwhile, Gasser was cruising as well, striking out eight as he went six complete innings and left trailing 1-0.

The Green Wave added two runs in the seventh off of Houston relief pitching, including the final run on a bases loaded walk that made it 3-0.

After a scoreless eighth for Olthoff, Tulane went to the bullpen to close out Houston in the ninth for the 3-0 five-hit shutout win . . . Gasser and the Cougars bullpen were able to end Burns’s hitting streak at seventeen games.

Houston struck first in Friday’s second game when they scored a run in the top of first on a Ryan Hernandez bloop single into right that brought Brad Burckel home from second . . . The Cougars added a run in the second on a sacrifice fly by Luke Almendarez to score Will Pendergrass and give the Cougars a 2-0 advantage.

In the third, Tyler Bielamowicz lined a one-out triple to right-center and he was brought home moments later on a Ryan Hernandez single into center to put the Cougars in front 3-0.

Tulane plated a run in the third off Houston starter Jaycob Deese to get back in the game.

Tulane’s starter left the game with one out in the sixth and two Cougars on base . . . Houston added a run moments later on a bizarre play at the plate on a wild pitch allowing Dylan Post to score and extend the Cougars lead to 4-1 . . . Post broke for home on a wild pitch, but the pitch ricocheted quickly back to Tulane’s catcher and he recovered the ball and raced back to the plate as Post went right at Hastings, but he snuck his left leg around the catcher and managed to touch home plate before he was tagged.

The Green Wave got a two-run home run in the sixth to get to within one at 4-3 . . . Collin Burns tied the contest at four in the seventh with a one-out home run to straight-away center field . . . Deese went 6 1/3 innings in a solid outing before exiting, but the game got away from the Cougars at that point. A few pitches later, a liner down the first base line drove in Tulane’s go-ahead run at 5-4.

The Green Wave scored six runs in the eighth while they scored ten unanswered runs overall and led 11-4.

Tulane closed out the contest in the ninth while extending their win streak to twelve games.

The two teams return to Turchin Stadium on Saturday with first pitch coming at 4pm . . . Ben Sears will take the mound for Houston. –