Late Lyssy Homer Lifts Houston Past UCF to Series Win

Thomas Lyssy bats in the eighth inning Sunday in Orlando

As the clock ticked down on Sunday in Orlando with a time rule in effect for travel plans, Houston used their final inning at-bat to reverse a two-run deficit and win 12-9 against UCF to take their fifth conference series of the season.

The Knights jumped out to an early 3-0 in the bottom of the first innings thanks in some measure to the gusty breezes blowing around Orlando.

Trailing by three in the top of the second inning, catcher Anthony Tulimero led off the inning with a single . . . One out later, Malachi Lott doubled to left-center field to get Houston on the board.

Drew Bianco singled to lead off the top of the third inning and then advanced to second base on a wild pitch before moving to third base on a ground out to third by Brandon Uhse . . .  Zach Arnold delivered a one out RBI single to left field to plate Bianco and make it 3-2 . . . Alex Lopez was walked to put runners at first and second base . . . Tulimero then grounded to third base with what looked to be a double play ball, but the throw from second base to first base was wide, allowing Tulimero to reach base while Arnold crossed home plate as the tying run.

In the top of the fourth inning, a Thomas Lyssy infield single put him at first base with one out . . . Ian McMillan then drove a ball the opposite way over the right field wall for a two-run home run and a 5-3 Houston lead.

Houston starter Cade Citelli did not benefit from the wild winds in Orlando on Sunday, but he gutted out a tough start and took the game into the fourth inning before being relieved by Dan Wright . . . Wright completed two important innings and allowed just one run, three of his six recorded outs were by strikeout.

With the game tied at five in the top of the fifth inning, Murray reached first base on a one-out walk . . . Lyssy singled into right field to move Murray over to third base . . . A failed pick-off attempt of Lyssy at first base saw Lyssy get into a rundown between first and second base, but he delayed being tagged long enough to allow Murray to steal home with the go-ahead run, and Lyssy reached second base safely after the ball was dropped by the Knights first baseman after he had seemingly applied the tag . . . Houston took the 6-5 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning.

Murray worked a walk to lead off the top of the seventh inning and then advanced to second base on a wild pitch . . . Cameron Nickens pinch-hit for Malachi Lott and dropped a single into right-center field to drive Murray home and cut the UCF lead by a run to 9-7. 

Still trailing by two runs in the top of the eighth inning, the Cougars offense went back to work . . . Arnold led off with a single and Lopez followed that with a walk . . . Murray was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out . . . Nickens singled to left field to drive in two runs to tie the game at nine, his second hit in as many innings to with three runs drive in.

Lyssy followed with a monster blast to right field, a three-run shot and the Cougars took a 12-9 lead . . . The home run was Lyssy’s third hit of the game in a 3-for-5 day, it was also the freshman’s first in a Houston uniform.

The four-hour game ended after the bottom of the eight inning due to time constraints after Murray struck out what would have been the tying run at the plate with two Knights runners on base . . . Murray pitched the final three innings for Houston and earned the win to improve to 3-0 this season.

Head Coach Todd Whitting was quick with praise for Lyssy after the game on Sunday.

“It is great to see Lyssy doing the most with his opportunity,” Whitting said. “He has been a huge bat for us in the last few weeks.”

“Proud of the boys grinding out a tough weekend against a very good UCF team,” Whitting added.

The comeback win gave Houston its fifth conference series win of the eight they will play this season . . . This was the third conference road series win and the second straight weekend with a conference series win on the road . . . The Cougars finish April with a record of 12-6.

The Cougars (25-19, 10-5) return to action on Wednesday when they will play Rice at Reckling Park in game two of the Silver Glove Series . . . Houston leads the Silver Glove Series 1-0 and can take home the trophy for another year with a win on Wednesday or the following week against Rice, also at Reckling Park, on May 10 . . . Rice was swept at home this weekend by Dallas Baptist . . . First pitch is scheduled for 6:30pm on Wednesday.


Houston Wins Orlando Opener in 10 Innings

Malachi Lott led off for Houston against UCF on Friday night

Houston took the opener of their weekend conference series in Orlando with a 13-7 win over UCF on Friday in ten innings.

Houston only scored runs in three innings on Friday night, but they did it in bunches.

A two-out walk to Alex Lopez in the top of the first inning put a runner on base for catcher Anthony Tulimero . . . . Tulimero homered deep to left-center field and the Cougars took an early two-run lead.

Brandon Uhse (2-for-4) led off the top of the second inning with a home run to straight away center field . . . The flood gates opened after that.

Thomas Lyssy (3-for-5) immediately followed with a single, and then Ian McMillan doubled in front of a Drew Bianco single . . . A misplayed fielder’s choice on a grounder by Malachi Lott led to a run crossing the plate . . .  One out later Alex Lopez knocked a single to the opposite field to drive in Bianco and Lott and the Cougars led 7-0, chasing the Knights starting pitcher in just his second frame.

The Cougars did not score another run until the tenth inning.

Meanwhile, the Knights got four runs of their own in the bottom half of the second inning to keep the game close, trailing just 7-4 going to the third inning.

While Josh Ekness did not have his best night, he gave his teammates 5 2/3 innings on the mound and left just before a Knights two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning tied the game at seven . . . Ekness threw 121 pitches in the game.

Maddux Miller followed Ekness and tossed two innings allowing just one run . . . Brendan O’Donnell then followed Miller and tossed 1 1/3 innings with some tense moments, but he did not allow a run and stymied one potential game-winning threat.

In the top of the tenth innings, the Cougars started rolling once again . . . Tulimero led off the frame and was hit by a pitch . . . Justin Murray (3-for-5) followed with a single before both runners moved into scoring position on a wild pitch . . . Cameron Nickens was walked to load the bases in his first plate appearance of the game after replacing Uhse . . . Lyssy picked up his third hit of the night by punching a grounder through the drawn-in infield on the right side to drive in a run . . . Lott singled to left field to drive in two more Houston runs.

Zach Arnold then launched a 2-2 pitch out of the ballpark, over the Houston bullpen beyond the left field wall for a three-run home run and a 13-7 Cougars lead.

Murray took the mound for the ninth inning and he retired all three batters he faced on just thirteen pitches to close out the road victory and earn his sixth save of the season . . . O’Donnell was the winner and improved to 3-0 this season.

Houston had fifteen hits in the game and two batters walked and only left five runners on base . . . The Cougars pitching staff stranded nine Knights runners on base.

With Wichita State also winning on Friday night, the Cougars and the Shockers remain tied for the top spot in the conference standings, a full game ahead of East Carolina . . . Tulane and East Carolina had their game stopped due to the weather in the seventh inning with Tulane leading 9-6 . . . The Pirates and the Green Wave will attempt to finish the game on Saturday, before the two teams are scheduled to compete in a doubleheader . . . There is the potential for 21 innings of baseball in Greenville on Saturday.

Saturdays game between the Cougars and the Knights has been moved up to 11am CT because of the potential for bad weather in Orlando on Saturday night . . . While no pitcher has been announced yet, look for the Cougars to stick with what has worked since Paul Schmitz was sidelined and start Lott on the mound Saturday.

Houston Advances to American Championship on Late Tulimero Home Run

Anthony Tulimero rounds third base after his ninth inning home run Saturday in Clearwater. (Photo credit: American Athletic Conference/Mary Holt)

Houston had two chances to advance to the American Athletic Conference Championship final on Sunday and they capitalized on the second one with a 9-6 victory over UCF on Saturday night in Clearwater.

In the opening frame of game one, Santiago Garcia singled into right-center, scoring Alex Lopez from second base and the Cougars led 1-0.

Brandon Burckel hit a one-out double off of the wall in left field in the top of the fourth inning, forcing the Knights to go to the bullpen . . . One out later, Lopez hit the first pitch of his at-bat over the wall in right-center field and the Cougars lead was increased to 3-0.

The Knights rallied and scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to take a 4-3 lead.

Ian McMillan tied the game in the top of the fifth inning with a two-out solo home run to right field . . . With the Cougars trailing 7-4 in the top of the seventh inning, McMillan hit his second home run of the game, a two-run shot to left field to get the Cougars to within a run.

Garcia led off the top of the ninth inning with a single into right field . . . Ryan Hernandez sent the next pitch over the wall in left field to tie the game at eight.

The Knights had an answer in the bottom of the tenth inning as they manufactured a run to walk-off as 9-8 winners, forcing a second game of the day to settle matters.

Houston jumped out to another early lead, this time with a three-spot in the opening frame . . . But the Knights answered right back with three runs in their half of the first inning.

Brandon Uhse stole second in the fifth inning and Tulimero drove him home on a two-out single to right-center field as Houston regained the lead 4-3.

After tying the game in the bottom of the fifth inning, UCF plated two runs in the sixth inning to take a 6-4 lead.

Houston tied the game in the top of the eighth inning when a one-out single by McMillian into left-center scored two.

Still tied in the top of the ninth, Tulimero hit a two-out three-run home run over the left field wall to give the Cougars a 9-6 lead going to the bottom of the ninth.

Jose Torrealba returned to the mound for the second time in the day to close out the victory that would send the Cougars to the Sunday championship game, and he retired all three batters he faced in the ninth after the hard luck loss in the first game walk-off loss.

Houston used seven pitchers in game two . . . Maddux Miller, Jackson Dannelley, Logan Clayton, and Torrealba all pitched a scoreless inning or more . . . Cameron Prayer went three innings at a crucial point and really helped stabilize things after a rough opening frame.

“You know, obviously any win is momentum,” Tulimero said after the game. “But we have a saying on this team, ‘if you sleep on the win, you’ll wake up to a loss.’ We’re gonna get in the clubhouse, celebrate a bit, flush it, come back tomorrow looking to win the championship.”

Houston will face East Carolina on Sunday morning, at 11am CT . . . A win on Sunday means a trip to a Regional next weekend, while a loss means the end of the season.

Cougars Lose Late, Retain Second Spot in American

Kyle LaCalameto got the start against UCF on Friday at Schroeder Park

The Houston Cougars lost a late lead on their way to dropping Saturday night’s middle game to UCF, 6-5.

Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning, Zach Arnold reached base with one out on an error at shortstop . . . Alex Lopez kept things going by taking a walk . . . Anthony Tulimero singled to right field on a low liner that the right fielder lost in the sun . . . Cameron Nickens then singled up the middle to give the Cougars a 2-1 lead going to the second inning.

Houston starter Kyle LaCalameto exited the game after the fourth inning, turning the game over to the bullpen . . The Knights took a 3-2 lead in the top of the fifth inning on a two-run home run to right-center.

Malachi Lott led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a single and then he stole second base . . . A single to left field by Brandon Uhse drove in Lott from second base to tie the game . . . Arnold singled to keep the inning going . . . Lopez grounded out to shortstop behind second base, but the go-ahead run in Uhse crossed the plate . . . Nickens then delivered a two-out RBI single into shallow right-center field and the Cougars led 5-3 after the three run frame.

Cameron Prayer recorded the final two outs in the top of the fifth inning, a nice outing for the lefty.

Ben Sears came into the game in the eighth inning and retired the side in order . . . But UCF got two runs in the top of the ninth to take a 6-5 lead . . . The Cougars went down in order in the bottom of the ninth and suffered the late one-run loss.

The Cougars walked batters would eventually score in the Saturday contest . . . Houston remains a game ahead of the Knights to maintain the second spot by one game heading into Sunday’s action.

Houston and UCF conclude their weekend series with a series win on the line Sunday at Schroeder Park . . . Pre-game festivities include Senior Day recognition for three Cougars players . . . Houston has not announced a starting pitcher for the game, but expect to see Nathan Medrano on the hill . . . First pitch is scheduled for 12 noon.

Houston Opens Final Home Series with 9-6 Win

Ryan Hernandez bats in the second inning Friday night against UCF

The Houston Cougars defeated UCF 9-6 on Friday night at Schroeder Park, and they had to erase an early four run deficit to do it.

Houston faced an uncharacteristic 4-0 first inning deficit before they even came to bat on Friday night, but as often has been the case with the 2022 Cougars, they played nine innings of baseball and found a way to win.

Cameron Nickens led off the bottom of the second inning with a ground-rule double into right field . . . Ryan Hernandez (2-for-2) followed with a home run to center field that split the Texas and United States flags beyond the wall and the deficit was cut in half, 4-2.

Anthony Tulimero led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a single and Nickens followed with a single, his second hit of the ballgame . . . Hernandez followed with his second home run of the game, a shot to left-center field, and Houston led 5-4 . . . For Hernandez the two homers were his fourth and fifth in the last five games, and his tenth and eleventh of the season.

One out later Malachi Lott tripled to center field . . . Brandon Uhse lined a two-out single to left field and the Houston lead increased to 6-4 going to the fifth inning.

Logan Clayton took the mound in the fifth inning with two runners on base and no outs . . . One run would score, but a sacrifice fly to center field turned wild on a throw that got past Zach Arnold at third base as the base runner was trying to tag up from first base to third base . . . Clayton was backing up third base and dove on the loose ball in front of the Cougars dugout, as the runner made for home, Clayton got up and fired a dart to Tulimero at home plate to catch the runner and end the frame with Houston leading 6-5.

Maddux Miller entered the game in the seventh inning with two down and got a swinging strike out to end the frame.

Ben Sears took the mound for the eighth inning protecting a one-run lead and retired the Knights in order, striking out two.

Leading by a run in the bottom of the eighth, Hernandez was walked for his second straight plate appearance, with one out . . . Ian McMillan doubled into the left field corner to put runners on second and third with one out . . . Santiago Garcia, pinch-hitting for Lott, swung at the first pitch he saw and unloaded on the baseball deep to left-center field for a three-run home run and a 9-5 Houston lead.

Houston benefited from the insurance runs because a two-out solo home run for UCF in the ninth inning made it 9-6, before Sears finished off the Knights and earned his twelfth save of the season . . . Clayton improved his record to 6-3.

With East Carolina winning on Friday night, the Pirates hold a two game edge over the Cougars, who continue to occupy the second spot in the standings, now two games ahead of UCF.

The Cougars (34-16) and the Knights continue the series on Saturday when they play again at Schroeder Park, first pitch will be at 6:30pm . . . Kyle LaCalameto will be on the mound for Houston.

Houston Swept; Heads for Conference Tournament

The Houston Cougars and the Central Florida Knights closed out the regular season on Saturday with a briskly played, 2-1 game that the Knights won on their home field in Orlando.

Matt Lazzaro got the start for Houston for the second week in a row, his third start of the season . . . Lazzaro had everything working and he was cruising early.

With the game scoreless in the fourth, Tyler Bielamowicz hit a one-out single . . . Designated hitter Derrick Cherry then hit a liner toward the hole at second base into right field, Bielamowicz moved easily to third, but carelessness by the Knights defense allowed Bielamowicz to race home from third and just barely beat a throw home to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead.

The Knights tied the game in the bottom of the fifth when a double to left-center allowed a runner on second to score . . . Central Florida took a 2-1 lead on a grounder to short that plated a runner on third.

Matt Lazzaro’s day was complete after six innings, another great outing for the lefty . . . Maddux Miller replaced Lazzaro, and after two quick outs to start the frame, he was hit on his pitching hand by a liner off a batted ball . . . Miller tried to stay in the game, but he threw one pitch which sailed high and away, and he was immediately replaced.

Colby Casey had another nice outing for the Cougars out of the bullpen, he recorded the final four outs.

The Cougars offense never threatened further after the run-scoring fourth, the team mustered just four hits, two on them by Dylan Post who was 2-for-4 in the loss.

The Cougars head to Clearwater now and will play their first game of the American Athletic Conference tournament at 3pm on Tuesday . . . Look for Robert Gasser to start the game for Houston in the double-elimination tournament.

Shutout in Orlando on Saturday

The story of Saturday’s game in Orlando, Florida between the Houston Cougars and the Central Florida Knights was told in the first inning.

The Cougars were set down in order to open the game . . . Then the Knights came to bat.

Central Florida hit a leadoff home run, and five singles followed while the Knights quickly took a 4-0 lead and chased starter Carter Henry from the game with only one out in the first, and the bases loaded . . . Left-hander Ryne Huggins was brought in from the bullpen, and aside from a hit batter that allowed a fifth run, got the final two outs and ended the inning.

Huggins got the game into the fifth, keeping the Knights from adding to their lead . . . Following a leadoff walk, Cherry relieved Huggins after 3 2/3 innings of hitless, scoreless baseball . . . Cherry faced three batters and got three outs to end the fifth, but the Cougars still trailed 5-0.

Cherry would depart after two innings of work, he did not allow a run or a hit and struck out one . . . A solo home run in the seventh would extend the Central Florida lead 6-0 . . . Cameron Prayer struck out the side in the seventh and Layne Looney pitched a scoreless eighth.

Freshman Samuel Tormos, batting in the two spot on Saturday, singled in the eighth to extend his consecutive games-reached streak to five games . . . The Cougars offense was unable to threaten the Central Florida pitching staff, collecting eight hits in the game, with no Cougars batter having multiple-hits, as they fell 6-0.

The Cougars and the Knights do it one more time tomorrow in Orlando, for Houston it will be game number 50 . . . First pitch will be at 3pm . . . Houston has not yet announced a starting pitcher. –

Cougars Preparing for Clearwater, Drop Two in Orlando

With four regular season games left that will not have an effect on the conference tournament match-ups next week, the Houston Cougars opened up a weekend series in Orlando, Florida on Florida . . . In facing the University of Central Florida Knights, Houston wanted to remain healthy, and they wanted their pitching staff primed and ready to go when the action gets underway in Clearwater on Tuesday when the American Athletic Conference tournament opens.

Robert Gasser took the mound on Thursday knowing a pitch count was in effect, no matter what.

With one out in the second, Brandon Uhse drew a walk, and stole second a few pitches later . . . One out later, Samuel Tormos delivered a single to right on the first pitch he saw, Uhse was safe at home on a throw to the first base side of home plate and the Cougars led 1-0.

After two innings, and twenty-eight pitches, Gasser was finished for the day having not allowed a run in his brief outing . . . Jaycob Deese took the mound in the third after having missed all of last weekend with a hamstring injury.

The Knights took a 3-1 lead in the fifth on a three-run home run to left field, but Deese looked good in his outing otherwise, spotting good fastballs and countering with some filthy breaking pitches throughout.

Deese worked into the seventh inning, exiting with two outs in favor of Maddux Miller . . . Miller worked the rest of the way for the Cougars, keeping the Knights from scoring in the final 1 1/3 innings.

The Cougars were kept off of the scoreboard after the run in the second, and they fell in game one by a final of 3-1.

Ben Sears took the mound for Houston with a different mission that Gasser and Deese had in the first game . . . Sears would be allowed to throw a seemingly regular outing because he will not be pitching as soon as the Gasser and Deese will be early next week.

The Knights got a run off of Sears in the first, but the run was unearned, nonetheless, they led 1-0 going to the second.

While Sears was cruising, Houston did not get its first base hit in game two until the sixth inning when Ian McMillian hit a one out single to center field.

Sears departed after six innings, having allowed just one unearned run to go with three hits and three strikeouts . . . Central Florida added a run on a one out base hit in the seventh increasing their lead to 2-0.

Tormos singled with two outs in the eighth . . . Ian McMillan singled to center, the center fielder mis-played the ball by diving for it and the miscue allowed Tormos to score from first to close the deficit to 2-1 . . . But the scoring ended there and the Cougars were defeated by that 2-1 final in game two.

The Cougars and the Knights return to action Saturday with first pitching at 5pm . . . Carter Henry will make the start for Houston. –

Cougars Drop Regular Season Finale in 11

Houston Cougars Baseball

For the UCF Knights and the Houston Cougars, fifty-four games would not quite be enough to put the finishing touch on the 2019 regular season . . . The Knights and the Cougars went ahead and played eleven innings on Saturday night in Orlando.

The Cougars fail behind early, and the lesson is clear, digging yourself too deep a hole almost never works out . . . UCF was leading 7-1 by the end of the third and nothing in the Houston offense this week indicated that a comeback was possible . . . However, in the top of the fourth the Cougars put together a rally on a series of two-out two-RBI hits to plate four in the inning and get back into the game 7-5.

In the seventh, the Cougars tied the game at eight capped off by a two-RBI single to left by Joe Davis who batted with the bases loaded after having been intentionally walked three times up to that point (he would also be intentionally walked in the ninth).

The Knights got two runs back in the bottom of the seventh to take a 10-8 lead . . . In the top of the ninth, with Jared Triolo stealing third and Landon Etzel stealing second, the UCF catcher launched his throw into left field . . . Triolo scored easily, and Etzel just barely beat the throw home to score all the way from first on the play and tie the game at ten.

UCF finally broke through in the eleventh when they loaded the bases after an intentional pass and with the infield playing in with one out, a pop fly to left was just out of the reach of a hustling Blake Way, the ball fell in and the winning run crossed the plate for the Knights.

The 11-10 regular season-ending affair lasted just over five hours and the Cougars used six pitchers and plenty of bench players in the effort . . . Of the six pitchers used, Fred Villarreal who pitched two innings, was the only pitcher not to allow a run . . . Houston also left eighteen runners in scoring position . . . The big comebacks are always difficult, so much energy is expended getting the game back to even, that often nothing is left for what comes next.

The Cougars are off until Tuesday morning when they will open the American Conference tournament against UConn in Clearwater, Florida . . . First pitch is at 8am Houston time. –

Cougars Shutout UCF 2-0, Even Series

Houston Cougars Baseball

After a lopsided shutout on Thursday night, Friday night’s game between the Houston Cougars and the UCF Knights proved to be more of a taste of a series between two teams with nearly identical records.

Clay Aguilar took the hill for the Cougars and though he was laboring through long innings early, he was putting up zeroes and keeping the Knights off the board . . . He parted the game with a runner on but no outs in the fifth in favor of Sean Bretz, who subsequently ended the inning and pitched two scoreless innings on the night.

The game slugged along with base runners, but stranded base-runners . . . Neither team scored until the top of the seventh, and neither team scored after that frame.

Joe Davis would provide all the offense the Cougars needed on Friday night when he hit a two-run homerun to center in the seventh, his seventeenth of the season, and his first since April 12th at Wichita State . . . For Davis the homer was part of a 2-for-3 night, only Brad Burckel joined Davis with multiple hits in the game.

Fred Villarreal pitched a scoreless final three frames to earn his tenth save of the year . . . For UCF, this was their first nine-inning shutout of the season . . . Sean Bretz picked up the win, his second of the year . . . Clay Aguilar lowered his ERA to 2.65, which is an extraordinary number for someone who did not start the season as the “Saturday starter” but has moved into the role nicely.

The Cougars can claim the road series on Saturday when they conclude the series with UCF at 5pm Houston time in Orlando. –