Houston Takes Series in Wichita, Stands Alone in Second in American

Houston closed out their weekend series at Wichita State on Sunday

Houston took their second straight conference road series with an 11-8 win over Wichita State in Wichita on Sunday.

With two outs in the top of the first inning, Alez Lopez extended the inning when he singled to reach base . . . Anthony Tulimero then homered to left field to give the Cougars an early 2-0 lead.

Over the first two innings, the Shockers scored three runs to take a 3-2 lead into the third inning.

Brandon Burckel walked and Brandon Uhse singled to set the table in the top of the third inning for Houston . . . Lopez singled home a run before Tulimero was hit by a pitch to load the bases . . . Cameron Nickens and Ryan Hernandez each singled home a run . . . Ian McMillan doubled to the wall in left field to drive in another run.

A fielder’s choice on a batted ball by Santiago Garcia resulted in a rundown between third base and home plate, as Garcia made for second base, the throw to attempt to get him out was well wide of the base and a sixth and final run scored in the frame and Houston led 8-3.

Houston starter Nathan Medrano took the game into the third inning and gave way to Logan Clayton with two outs in the inning.

Still leading 8-7 in the sixth inning, a lead off walk to Hernandez got the inning started  . . . Two walks and a fielder’s choice put runners on base for Uhse who delivered a two RBI single . . . Arnold drove in the third run of the inning on a ground out to third base and Houston took an 11-7 lead.

Ben Sears entered the game in the fifth inning with two outs in relief of Clayton and pitched the final 4 1/3 innings of the game, only surrendering a run on a solo home run with two outs in the ninth inning . . . Sears improved to 7-2 on the year with the win.

In a reversal of what happened in 2021, where the Shockers took seven of eight against the Cougars, Houston won four of six contests this year . . . The Cougars are now alone in second place in the American Athletic Conference, behind only East Carolina, with two big weekend series remaining . . . The Cougars will face UCF at Schroeder Park next weekend, they lead the Knights by one game, and then Houston closes out the regular season the following weekend in Greenville against East Carolina.

The Cougars return home on Sunday evening and will face Sam Houston State on Tuesday at Constellation Field in Sugar Land in the third and final game of the 2022 Don Sanders Cup, which Houston won in April after taking the first two games of the series . . . First pitch on Tuesday is scheduled for 6:30pm in Sugar Land.

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Houston Loses Middle Game at Wichita State

Houston faced Wichita State in Wichita on Saturday

Wichita State evened the weekend series with Houston on Saturday afternoon with a runaway 12-4 win in Wichita.

Brandon Burckel reached second base on a one out double in the top of the third inning . . . Zach Arnold delivered a two-out RBI single to give Houston the early lead . . . After Alex Lopez singled to extend the innings, Anthony Tulimero delivered a two-out RBI single of his own and the Cougars led 2-0.

After the Shockers tied the game in the third, Ryan Hernandez led off the fourth inning with a home run high off the scoreboard in left field and Houston re-took the lead by a run . . . The home run was the eighth of the season for Hernandez, and his second in as many days.

After two quick outs, Burckel worked a walk and then stole second base . . . Brandon Uhse doubled to score Burckel from second base and Houston led 4-2 . . . A walk to Arnold spelled the end of the day for Wichita State starter Cameron Bye as the Shockers went to the bullpen.

However, the rest of the ballgame was all Shockers as Wichita State scored ten unanswered runs to take a 12-4 lead which stood up as the final score.

The Cougars could only reach the Shockers pitching staff for three base hits after the fourth inning, all singles, and they went down in order twice in the final five frames.

Maddux Miller tossed 1 2/3 innings of scoreless ball and Bryson Walker threw one scoreless inning, the only two pitchers of the six Houston used in the contest who did not allow the Shockers to score.

Houston and Wichita State will play the deciding game of the weekend series on Sunday morning . . . First pitch is scheduled for 11am, expect to see Nathan Medrano on the mound for the Cougars.

Cougars Erase Early Deficit, Win at Wichita State 7-4

Jaycob Deese faces Wichita State in the seventh inning on Friday

Houston opened up their weekend series in Wichita, Kansas on Friday with a 7-4 win over the Wichita State Shockers and finally exacted some revenge on an recent foe.

The Cougars of 2021 and 2022 had been unable to figure out Wichita State starter Jace Kaminska in three games last season and one game earlier this season . . . Over that stretch, Kaminska was 4-0 and had allowed just two runs in 32 1/3 innings, which includes a contest in the American Athletic Conference Tournament in Clearwater, Florida last May.

Trailing 3-0 in the top of the third inning, Brandon Burkel led off the frame with a single and then stole second base . . . Alex Lopez hit a two-out double into right-center to plate Burckel and cut the deficit to 3-1.

Houston starter Jaycob Deese faced the minimum in the third inning, getting a pickoff at first on a runner who had singled with two outs . . . Deese then faced just three batters in both the fourth and fifth innings, requiring just nine pitches in the fifth.

Lopez singled to lead off the sixth inning with the Cougars still trailing 3-1 . . . Anthony Tulimero followed with a walk, and Cameron Nickens was hit in the helmet by a pitch to load the bases with no outs . . . Ian McMillian batted a ball to deep short and before the ball could break free and run into left field, the Shockers shortstop stopped the ball on a dive, but he had no play as a run crossed the plate, the bases remained loaded and the Cougars trailed by a run.

Malachi Lott lined a ball down the right field line all the way to the wall to clear the bases and the Cougars took a 5-3 lead on the double by Lott.

Kaminska left the game after six innings pitched, having allowed five runs.

Ahead 5-4 in the top of the eighth inning, Tulimero led off the inning with a fly ball to center that looked like a sure out, but it was dropped by the center-fielder and Tulimero stopped at second base . . . One out later, Ryan Hernandez hit his seventh home run of the year over the wall in deep left-center field to push the Houston lead to 7-4.

Deese gave way to Ben Sears to start the bottom of the eighth inning with the three run lead . . . Deese did not allow a walk in his seven innings, and in uncharacteristic fashion, only struck out one batter.

Sears handled the final two innings, and while he did not look his sharpest (he walked two and hit a batter), it was nice to see the right-hander work through some adversity and record the six records he was tasked with getting . . . Deese improved to 5-2 on the year with the win and Sears picked up his tenth save.

Head coach Todd Whitting commented on his team coming back from a 3-0 deficit to take the road victory on Friday night, but also of the outstanding defense played behind his pitchers throughout the game. 

“Proud of our offensive unit tonight,” Whitting said after the game. “We had a great plan against one of the top pitchers in our league. We did a tremendous job of grinding out at bats and playing great defense.”

The Cougars and the Shockers are back in action on Saturday afternoon in Wichita . . . Kyle LaCalameto will be on the mound for the Cougars . . . The scheduled first pitch is at 2pm.

Houston Shutout in Opener; Deese Throws Compete Game

The first of 137 pitches in a complete game by Jaycob Deese Friday night

The Houston Cougars opened American Athletic Conference play on Friday night on the wrong end of a 4-0 shutout by the Wichita State Shockers at Schroeder Park.

The Cougars combined the dangerous mixture of few hits, nine, with three errors in the field behind their starting pitcher . . . Defensive errors committed in the second and the ninth led to runs in both frames, the runs of the game for the Shockers.

Jace Kaminska was dominant all night and the Cougars only threatened in two innings when a Houston base runner reached third base . . . Kaminska pitched eight innings allowing just the four hits and striking out twelve Houston batters.

Jaycob Deese put on one of the gutsiest displays of any starting pitcher in recent memory tossing nine complete innings in a game where he needed to keep his team close as they trailed 1-0 most of the way . . . The complete game by Deese is the first for Houston since Aaron Fletcher accomplished the feat in March 2018 against Memphis . . . Deese also finished at 137 pitches, a career high.

Samuel Benjamin made a couple of nice grabs in left field on Friday night, and Zach Arnold played well at third base . . . The three errors in Friday’s contest were costly, but is it worth noting the solid defense as well.

The Cougars and the Shockers are back in action on Saturday night at Schroeder Park . . . The first pitch is scheduled for 6:30pm.

Houston Swept in Seven Inning Finale

The Houston Cougars continued to have few answers to the Wichita State offense on Sunday as the Shockers took the final of eight straight conference games in a run-rule shortened 13-2 victory.

The Shockers scored four in the first inning and added one more in the second to take a 5-0 lead while the Houston offense was scuffling.

Houston starter Ben Sears got the game into the third inning before giving way to Derrick Cherry with one out . . . Cherry stranded a runner at second to end the frame.

Adam Becker hit his first home run as a Cougar, a two-run shot in the fourth on an 0-2 pitch to cut the Wichita State lead to 5-2 . . . Cherry added a scoreless fourth, but Wichita State took advantage of some defensive miscues in the fifth and scored four runs, two of those unearned . . . Cameron Prayer replaced Cherry and ended the inning with the Shockers leading 9-2.

A Grand slam by Shockers third baseman Derek Shaver in the sixth made the score 13-2 . . . With runners on base and Prayer unable to end the inning, Colby Casey made his season debut and got a double play to end the sixth.

The Cougars were put down in order in the seventh and the run-rule ended the weekend road trip with a 13-2 loss . . . The Cougars only had five hits in the seven inning contest, Ryan Hernandez had two of those as he went 2-for-3 . . . The bottom four of the Houston order only had one batter reach base at all on Sunday, Ian McMillan, who singled in the third . . . Steven Rivas did not play on Sunday, he was out of the starting lineup against the lefty Spencer Hynes who got the start for Wichita State and went five complete innings . . . The run-rule shortened game is the second of the season for the Cougars, the rule also ended the final game in Norman against the Sooners three weeks ago.

The Cougars head back to Houston now to host East Carolina for a four-game weekend series starting with a double-header on Friday . . . First pitch in game one at Schroeder Park will be at 2pm. –

Cougars Continue to Struggle in Saturday Loss

Changing ballparks has not changed the outcome as the Houston Cougars continued to struggle against Wichita State Shockers in a 10-1 defeat on Saturday afternoon . . . After playing a Friday double-header on the Shockers home field at Eck Stadium, the action Saturday moved to a new minor league ballpark in downtown Wichita, but the song remained the same as the Cougars dropped their second consecutive conference series.

After not scoring in the top of the first, the Shockers got a two-run home run from Paxton Wallace for an early 2-0 lead on Houston starter Carter Henry.

A few wrinkles in the Cougars usual lineup offered some new looks, especially with Tyler Bielamowicz out with an injury suffered in Friday’s first game . . . Samuel Tormos got the start in left field, he reached base twice, once when hit by a pitch right on the helmet, and he also took a walk in his next at-bat.

Dylan Post handled catching duties on Saturday, giving Kyle Lovelace some time off after he caught parts of both games on Friday . . . Post doubled in the first . . . And Adam Becker played first base for the second day in a row and collected a base hit.

Henry lasted 2 2/3 innings and was relieved by Blake Schultz in the third . . . Schultz issued a bases loaded walk, but was injured on his last pitch and had to leave the game with the Cougars trailing 3-0 . . . Another bases loaded walk and an infield single added salt to the wound as the Shockers took a 5-0 lead by the time the third inning ended.

Not producing offensively, the Cougars pitching could not slow the damage as Hunter Gibson hit a grand slam in the fifth to give the Shockers a 9-0 lead.

Houston finally got on the board in the seventh when Ian MicMillian hit a two-out solo home run . . . Houston had six hits in the contest, all by different hitters, and McMillan’s home run accounted for the only run on Saturday as Wichita State starter Jace Kaminska pitched a complete game on 105 pitches.

Layne Looney pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh and allowed a run in the eighth as the Shockers took a commanding 10-1 lead which would hold up as the Cougars went down in order in the ninth.

The Cougars and Shockers play their eighth straight game against each other on Sunday in Wichita . . . Ben Sears will take the mound for the Cougars looking to make the best starting appearance of the weekend for Houston . . . First pitch Sunday morning is at 11am. –

Cougars Drop Two in Wichita on Friday

Will Pendergrass bats in game two Friday in Wichita

The Wichita State Shockers welcomed the Houston Cougars to Wichita, Kansas on Friday with two sound conference wins in a day-night double-header that the Shockers took by scores of 10-2 and 7-1.

Jaycob Deese got the start in game one on Friday and Deese was scoreless through four but ran into trouble in the fifth . . . The Shockers plated six in an inning where nothing went right for Houston, from bad luck and bad hops to odd plays that never felt right . . . Lefty Cameron Prayer entered the game with one out and the bases loaded he got one groundout that allowed a sixth run to cross the plate, but he got a flyout to end the inning as the Shockers took a 6-0 lead into the sixth.

In the sixth, Dylan Post reached base on a one-out single into right-center . . . Brandon Uhse followed with a walk . . . With two outs, Ryan Hernandez powered a single into left-center that plated Post . . . Tyler Bielamowicz followed with a run-scoring single to cut the deficit to 6-2 going to the bottom of the sixth.

The Shockers continued to pad their lead on Cougars pitchers Maddux Miller and Tristen Bayless eventually taking a 10-2 lead and final score in game one.

The Cougars mustered just six hits in game one, two of those were by Brad Burckel, who was the only Cougar with multiple hits in the game as he went 2-for-3 in the loss.

Robert Gasser took the mound in game two and the story of game two was much the same as the story of game one, the Shockers scored plenty while the Cougars offense scuffled.

Things started well for the Cougars as Brad Burckel worked a one-out walk, and after reaching second on a fielder’s choice, a wild pitch moved Brad to third, and another wild pitch allowed him to score and give the Cougars an early 1-0 advantage to end the top half of the first . . . But that would be the Cougars only run of the night.

The Cougars offense could not get anything going against Shockers starter Liam Eddy in game two . . . Aside from two hits, the last coming in the third, Eddy retired sixteen straight batters to close out his eight innings of work before giving way to the Wichita State bullpen for the ninth . . . Steven Rivas added a single in the ninth, but that would be all for the Cougars as they fell 7-1 in the nightcap.

Andy Belcik pitched 1/3 of an inning in relief of Gasser who went 6 2/3 innings . . . Dravin Barber got in two innings of work and allowed just one run as rain fell and the wind howled . . . Tyler Bielamowicz exited game one with an apparent back injury after making a defensive play and he did not play in game two.

The two squads return to action in Wichita on Saturday . . . Carter Henry will make his second consecutive weekend start after a tremendous outing last Friday . . . First pitch takes place at 2pm. –

Cougars Edged Out in Weekend Finale, 3-2

Ben Sears delivers the first pitch in Sunday’s finale at Schroeder Park

The Houston Cougars lost their third straight game of the weekend by a single run in spite of another solid outing by a starting pitcher, this time Ben Sears was the hard-luck loser in the 3-2 defeat Saturday afternoon.

Cloudy skies, saw the sun trying to peek through at times and delivered rain drops at other times as the Cougars tried to even up the weekend series . . . In a scoreless game in the second inning, Will Pendergrass hit a two-run home run with one out to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead . . . For Pendergrass it was his fifth home run of the season.

The Shockers got a run back in a complicated third when a bases loaded walk got Wichita State within one . . . After holding Houston scoreless for the next several frames, the Shockers tied the game at two on a solo home run by Paxton Wallace in the sixth.

Ben Sears pitched seven complete innings before Derrick Cherry took the mound to begin the eighth, making his tenth appearance of the season . . . Sears was very good on Saturday, a long third inning elevated his pitch count, but he kept the game close as he struck out five along the way.

In the Shockers threatened in their half of the eighth inning, a lazy pop fly to right was caught by Steven Rivas who quickly threw a low hopper to Kyle Lovelace who had time after he caught the ball to block the plate and apply the tag for the final out of the inning.

Former Cougar Spencer Hynes exited in the eighth after giving up a leadoff single to Brandon Uhse . . . Luke Almendarez bunted the first pitch he saw up the first base line to move Uhse to second base on the sacrifice . . . An intentional walk to Ryan Hernandez followed, after the Shockers brief attempt to avoid pitching to Hernandez resulted in a 3-0 count . . . Tyler Bielamowicz then grounded out to the pitcher moving the runners up to second and third . . . Steven Rivas then drove a ball to center but Shocker center fielder Couper Cornblum made the catch up against the wall to end the frame and send a tied game to the ninth.

Wichita State plated a go-ahead run in the ninth after a ground ball that resulted in an out at the plate was followed by a run-scoring single to right past a drawn-in infield . . . The 3-2 lead would hold up in the ninth as the Cougars were unable to get a runner to second . . . Brandon Uhse was 2-for-4 and was the only Cougar with multiple hits, and one of only four Cougars to get a base hit.

The two teams played to a relative draw, both getting five base hits in the Saturday contest, but Wichita State scored one more run and walked away with a 3-1 weekend series win . . . In the weekend series overall, the Shockers scored eleven to the Cougars ten runs.

The Cougars and the Shockers will both be traveling to Wichita, Kansas, the Shockers today, the Cougars late next week as the two teams with resume their American Athletic Conference schedule with a four game set in Kansas next weekend . . . First pitch Friday afternoon from Eck Stadium in Wichita is set for 1:00pm in game one with game two following at 6:00pm unless game one runs long. –

Two Great Mound Starts Not Enough As Cougars Drop Two

Carter Henry delivers Friday’s first pitch at Schroeder Park

Cougars pitching stole the show Friday, as Carter Henry and Jaycob Deese each pitched brilliant games, but the Houston offense was stymied as Wichita State took both games of the weekend double-header by scores of 3-2 and 2-1 at Schroeder Park.

Carter Henry made the game one start, making his first start since the 2017 season, has been a reliever, and often a long reliever in the past . . . Last Saturday, Henry pitched a solid 5 2/3 innings in relief against UT Arlington . . . The Shockers got to Henry for a run in the first inning, one of three runs off Henry on the day.

Brandon Uhse hit a pitch that was over the middle of the plate over the left field wall for a leadoff solo home run to tie the game at one in the bottom of the first . . . An inning later, Will Pendergrass scored on a wild pitch, after reaching base with a single, to give the Cougars a 2-1 lead . . . The Cougars would not score again in game one.

Shockers tied the game in the fourth, at which point Carter Henry went the next four innings without allowing a run . . . With the game tied at two in the ninth, a leadoff home run by third baseman Paxton Wallace gave the Shockers a 3-2 lead.

The Cougars began a rally in the ninth when Steven Rivas hit a one-out opposite field double to left, the first Cougars hit since the second inning . . . The rally was not to be though as the final two batters could not plate Rivas to tie the game, which the Shockers took by a final of 3-2.

In a semi-repeat of game one, the Shockers got one run off Deese in the top of the first to take an early 1-0 lead . . . Deese was solid over the next 6 2/3 innings, holding the Shockers scoreless until they added a run in the eighth after Deese left the game with a runner on second . . . Andy Belcik did end the inning, but not before Wichita State had taken a 2-0 lead.

After fourteen scoreless innings on the day, the Cougars finally put a run on the board in the eighth when Will Pendergrass hit a sacrifice fly to right . . . Aside from that, Schocker pitching was tough on the Cougars on Friday, allowing three total runs on eleven combined hits in both games . . . Four Cougars had one hit in game one, and Dylan Post (2-for-4) and Ryan Hernandez (2-for-4) were the only Cougars with multiple hits in game two.

Both teams have scored eight runs in the series to this point, and Houston is 13-13 overall and now 1-2 in American Conference play . . . Henry and Deese were hard luck losers on Friday, each pitched well enough to win but for lack of runs to back them up . . . Henry tossed 8 1/3 innings yielding six hits and striking out five . . . Deese countered by throwing 7 2/3 innings allowing eight hits and striking out six.

The Cougars close out the homestand and the opening series of conference weekend on Saturday when they host the Shockers in a noon finale at Schroeder Park . . . Ben Sears will be on the mound for the Cougars. –

Cougars Take Conference Series Over Wichita St.

Houston Cougars Baseball

Just when the Houston Cougars were getting accustomed to warm Texas weather, they went on the road to Wichita State and the weather has been nothing like the recent Texas weather . . . The game time temperature on Saturday afternoon was 53 degrees with wind and clouds . . . Fortunately for the Cougars, the bats stayed hot.

After an offensively balanced performance Friday night, the Cougars were up for more of the same on Saturday . . . Houston got on the board in the first when Rey Fuentes drove in Grayson Padgett on a two-out single, Fuentes had a single in his first two at-bats . . . The Cougars scored one in the second, and two runs in the third . . . All but two Cougars starters got a hit in the game, the Cougars had twelve hits in the game, and they scored in five of the nine frames.

Clay Aguilar went 5 1/3 innings allowing two runs on three hits and striking out seven . . . For Aguilar it was another nice Saturday outing after having mostly been a midweek starter or a reliever . . . Devon Roedahl relieved Aguilar in the sixth and got the final two outs to end the minor threat from the Shockers.

Wichita State starter Liam Eddy had a rough first three innings, but settled down after that to quiet the Cougars bats for four innings, but Houston got to him once again in the eighth when with two outs Kobe Hyland doubled to right, one pitch later Brad Burckel singled to right and the throw home to try to catch Hyland allowed Burckel to get to second, as the Cougars took the 5-2 lead, Eddy’s day was done.

Kyle Lovelace greeted the pitching change with an infield single that the shortstop was unable to get a handle on, Burckel was moving on contact with two outs and never stopped running and would score on the play to put Houston up 6-2 . . . Lovelace was 3-for-3 with a sacrifice bunt, a nice job for the ninth batter in the lineup . . . The Cougars manufactured another run in the ninth, taking advantage of two walks and a single that loaded the bases, they only got one run out of it, but it made the score 7-3 going to the bottom of the ninth.

Roedahl would go 2 1/3 innings before giving the baseball to Fred Villarreal with two outs on the eighth . . . Villarreal recorded the final four outs and secured the victory and the series win for the Cougars . . . The 7-3 win was Clay Aguilar’s third win of the season, and it was the 20th win on the year for the Cougars.

Houston and Wichita State conclude their weekend series at noon on Sunday in Wichita. –

 

Newspaper column version of this recap