Houston Walks-Off Series Finale in 10

Luke Almendarez makes a throw to first in Sunday’s series finale with UTA

Fresh off a Saturday double-header, the Houston Cougars and UT-Arlington Mavericks needed one extra inning to settle Sunday’s series finale at Schroeder Park . . . The Cougars prevailed 5-4 in ten innings to split the weekend series as heavy clouds and sporadic rain showers held of just long enough.

The Mavericks wasted little time getting things going, a two-out single was followed by a two-run home run to right for an early 2-0 lead against Houston starter Ben Sears.

Houston leadoff hitter Brandon Uhse was attempting to bunt and instead got a pitch right in the mid-section of his body . . . He stayed in the game long enough to take his base and was eventually erased on an inning-ending double-play, but he left the game and Jonathan Thomas took his place in the batting order and in center field for the remainder of the game.

Steven Rivas led off the second inning by hitting the first pitch saw over the right field wall . . . The next three straight batters reached base for the Cougars on two singles and a walk . . . Samuel Tormos then hit a chopper to short and the fielders choice allowed Will Pendergrass to score from third . . . With Brad Burckel on third, Tormos took off for second in an attempt to steal second, Mavericks catcher Andrew Miller fired to second and Burckel broke for home, second baseman Tommy Williams was not able to field the throw cleanly, Burckel crossed home plate just moments before Tormos was thrown out at first base allowing the run to count and giving the Cougars a 3-2 lead.

Ben Sears got two outs in the sixth and after a walk he was relieved by Derrick Cherry . . . Cherry got a fly out to center to end the sixth frame for the Mavericks who stranded runners on second and third . . . Sears went 5 2/3 innings and only allowed the two earned runs in the first inning, he exited with the lead and the chance to win the game if the Houston lead held . . . Sunday’s outing was a solid rebound outing for Sears.

Derrick Cherry followed with a scoreless seventh, but the Mavericks tied the game in the eighth as they manufactured the unearned tying run . . . A scoreless ninth for both offenses sent the game to an extra frame.

In extra innings, with the rule in place that a runner starts on second base to begin each inning, the Mavericks immediately bunted their runner to third . . . A shallow fly to right-center was then caught by Steven Rivas and with the runner at third tagging, Rivas fired home, the throw was wide and Houston catcher Kyle Lovelace had to move to his right to field the ball and then dove toward the plate to attempt to get the runner, but the runner was ruled safe at home and UTA took a 4-3 lead.

The Cougars began their half of the tenth with pinch-runner Andrew Papantois on second base . . . Brad Burckel hit a slow roller up the first base line that the pitcher was unable to get a grip on, Papantonis moved to third on the play . . . It was Burckel’s second hit of the afternoon and he was the only Cougar with multiple hits . . . Ian McMillan followed with a single toward second base that the second baseman fielded but his throw to first as he was falling away from first was weak, and it allowed McMillan to reach on the single while Papantonis scored the tying run.

Kyle Lovelace came to the plate with no outs and runners on the corners . . . Lovelace bunted the first pitch between the mound and first base, the first baseman fielded with his glove and tossed the ball home in the same motion but Brad Burckel snuck in around the catchers tag attempt to score the winning run and give the Cougars a 5-4 win.

Ryne Huggins picked up the win, his first of the season, as the result of pitching 1/3 of an inning, ending the tenth . . . All told, Derrick Cherry pitched four innings and did not allow an earned run and added two strikeouts . . . In ten innings, the Cougars offense managed just six hits, but it was enough as five runs scored . . . The Cougars improve to 12-11 with the win Sunday and they spilt the series with the Mavericks; a series which featured thirteen home runs over the four games between the two squads.

The Cougars open conference play Thursday at Schroeder Park when they host Wichita State University for a four game series . . . The Easter weekend schedule will open with Thursday’s game beginning at 6:30pm, a double-header will be played on Friday beginning at 2pm, and the concluding game will begin at 11:30am on Saturday. –

Hernandez Homers Three Times in Opener, Cougars Drop Twin Bill

Jaycob Deese offers up the first pitch in game two of Saturday’s double-header

The Mavericks of UT-Arlington took both games of a Saturday twin bill by a combined score of 20-14 over the Houston Cougars at Schroeder Park.

Before the Cougars came to bat in the first, they were already attempting to erase a 3-0 deficit . . . With one out, Luke Almendarez hit his first collegiate home run to trim the UTA lead to 3-1 . . . The Mavericks then added a grand slam in the third to increase their early lead to 7-1 . . . Carter Henry relieved starter Blake Schultz in the third.

In the Cougars half of the third, Ryan Hernandez hit a two-out three-run home run to draw the game closer at 7-4 . . . After the Mavericks added two runs in the top half of the fifth, Hernandez hit his second home run in as many at-bats, sending one 424 feet to cut into the UTA lead 9-5.

Hernandez hit his third home run of the game in the seventh, a two-run shot with Luke Almendarez on second after a one-out double to left-center . . . Almendarez (3-for-5) and Hernandez (3-for-4) were the only Cougars with multiple hits in game one, they each had three hits . . . Hernandez is the first Houston Cougar to homer three times in a single game since Connor Wong did it against Tulane in April 2017.

Carter Henry threw 5 2/3 innings in his appearance, allowing three hits and three strikeouts . . . Henry’s outing was a tremendous boost for the bullpen as he ate up a lot of innings after a short start from Blake Schultz . . . Tyler Bielamowicz recorded the first out in the top of the ninth when he went high on the left field wall to bring back what was sure to be a two-run home run, instead it was recorded as a long out.

Mavericks shortstop Josh Minjarez hit his second home run of the game with two outs in the ninth to give his team a 12-7 lead that the Mavericks would hold on to after a scoreless final two innings from the Cougars offense.

Jaycob Deese took the mound for the Cougars in game two, making his first start for Houston but his ninth appearance.

In the bottom of the first, Steven Rivas doubled to plate one run in giving Houston an early 1-0 lead. . . Will Pendergrass followed with a two-run home run to give the Cougars a 3-0 lead . . .For Pendergrass, it was his second home run in as many days and his fourth of the season as he went 2-for-3 and walked once in the second game.

UTA took a 4-3 lead in the fourth when a sacrifice fly to center scored a runner from third who had reached base on a double and then moved over to third on a groundout . . . Brad Burckel put the Cougars back in front when he hit a two-run home run off the scoreboard in right field to give the Cougars a 5-4 advantage in the fourth.

UTA tied the game at five in the seventh on a solo home run to center field as Deese’s night came to an end . . . Prayer relieved Deese after the home run and go three fast outs to end the frame . . . Prayer went 2 2/3 innings being replaced with two outs in the eighth by Layne Looney . . . Looney would add another inning of work, holding the Mavericks and keeping the Cougars within three at 8-5 . . . The Cougars mounted a two-run rally in the ninth but they fell a run short in the 8-7 Saturday finale.

The Cougars and the Mavericks close out the four-game weekend series on Sunday at Schroeder Park . . . Houston has not yet announced a starting pitcher, though with recent history it would be safe to assume right-hander Ben Sears will take the ball for Todd Whitting’s team . . . First pitch is at 1pm. –

Cougars Win Behind Gasser, 4-1

Robert Gasser tosses the opening pitch Friday night at Schroeder Park

The Houston Cougars welcomed the UT-Arlington Mavericks to Schroeder Park Friday night for a four-game weekend set with a 4-1 victory behind another outstanding performance by Cougars starter Robert Gasser.

The two teams were scoreless going into the fourth when the Mavericks plated their sole run of the evening on a single to center by first baseman Dylan Paul.

With two outs in the fifth, Will Pendergrass reached on a bouncer to deep short that he legged-out at first for a single . . . An errant attempted pick-off throw that got past the first baseman moved Pendergrass to second . . . Brad Burckel than drove a ball to the wall in right-center under the scoreboard for a game-tying triple . . . Kyle Lovelace followed with a single into center field that scored Burckel giving the Cougars a 2-1 lead.

Gasser picked-off two runners in the game, both broke for second base as Will Pendergrass fielded throws from Gasser that he relayed perfectly to Ian McMillan at second for both outs.

Will Pendergrass hit a one-out solo home run in the home half of the seventh to extend the Cougars lead to 3-1 . . . As soon as Pendergrass connected on the pitch that was low and inside, he knew it was gone . . . One out later, the Mavericks went to the bullpen for the first time of the evening . . . Pendergrass was 2-for-3 in the Friday contest, as was teammate Kyle Lovelace, the only two Houston players with multiple hits.

Gasser was still strong the later the game went, hitting 93mph on his hundredth pitch in the eighth . . . Gasser, in picking up the win, would go 7 2/3 innings allowing just one run and striking out nine on 111 pitches . . . The outing was Gasser’s longest of the season, surpassing his seven inning start against Texas . . . Derrick Cherry took the mound with two on and two out and got a strikeout to end the UTA threat.

The Cougars added an insurance run in the eighth on a fielders choice off the bat of Tyler Bielamowicz that brought home Luke Almendarez from third . . . Derrick Cherry retired the side quickly in the ninth, striking out two, including the final out . . . Cherry picked up his second save on the year with his 1 1/3 innings on the mound . . . Gasser earned the win, his third of the season.

Ryan Hernandez returned to the lineup on Friday, though in a somewhat limited role . . . Hernandez served as the designated hitter and batted in the three spot, a spot usually occupied by Steven Rivas who was moved to the five spot for the game . . . Hernandez lined a single to left-center in the eighth for his only hit of the game, and his first hit in nearly two calendar weeks.

Houston and UTA square-up again on Saturday in a double-header with the first pitch slated for 2pm . . . Right-hander Blake Schultz with start for the Cougars in game one, and no starter has been named yet for the Cougars in game two. –