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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Baseball

Cougars win opening series against the Demons


Junior pitcher Fred Villarreal came in clutch in the third inning and stopped the bleeding for the Cougars. Villarreal threw 5.1 scoreless innings to keep Houston in the close game. | Andres Chio/The Cougar

Good pitching was the name of the game for opening weekend as the Cougars won the series against the Demons 2-1, but it did not come easy.

All three bouts were close affairs, came down to the final inning and were settled by a couple big hits.

Opening Day

Houston took game one against Northwestern State 5-3 on a walk-off home run by junior Kobe Hyland to end a close opening game.

The Cougars couldn’t seem to get the ball rolling early and fell down 0-3 off some wild pitching from junior Tyler Bielamowicz.

The lead stood until the sixth inning when senior Joe Davis hit a three-run home run to tie the game.

Pitching was a struggle for Houston in the first couple of innings, but junior Fred Villarreal came from the bullpen in the third inning to save the day. Then junior Devon Roedahl came in to close out the game before Hyland hit the home run.

“(Villarreal) made pitches when he had to, and we made plays when we had to. Villarreal and Roedahl coming out of the bullpen were awesome,” said head coach Todd Whitting. “The three-run homer by Davis to tie it up, then the two-run walk-off by Hyland, we’d like to draw it up that way every time on opening night.”

Second try

The first five innings of Saturday’s 5-4 win were largely uneventful, and the two teams combined for just four hits.

Northwestern State finally got things started in the top of the sixth after a single, wild pitch and a walk loaded the bases. The Demons capitalized on the chance and scored after a pair of hits sent runners home to make it 3-0.

Houston answered at the bottom of the inning when Bielamowicz, who plays in the outfield when he is not pitching, hit a blast over the center field wall to cut down the lead.

In the bottom of the seventh, Hyland continued his weekend heroics and sent two runners home to tie the game. Freshman second baseman Brad Burckel followed up with a single of his own to send Hyland home to take the lead.

Northwestern State responded in the top of the eighth with a run that tied the game 4-4.

Just a day after Hyland won it for the Cougars, Houston would have to walk it off once again to win the gain.

With two outs left in the bottom of the ninth, sophomore catcher Kyle Lovelace stepped up to the plate and walked it off for the Cougars to win the game.

Extra rounds

The third game of the series was also the closest as the Cougars fell to the Demons 1-2 after 11 innings.

For the first time in the series, Houston got on the board first. Sophomore Drew Minter led off the second inning with a double, and he did not have to wait long until Burckel hit a drive to right field to send him home.

The lead stood until the top of the eighth inning when NSU tied the game, just like it did on Saturday, with a triple from the batter to send the runner on second base home.

Both teams had chances to finish the game off in nine innings but could not finish chances. Nine men were left on base by each team. In the top of the 11th inning, NSU hit a home run to take the lead for good.

Even though it was a loss, Whitting said he was happy with the depth the team showed and he expects to keep the rotation consistent for the next few weeks to see how players settle into their roles.

Houston will play McNeese on Wednesday night after the game was rescheduled from Tuesday in Louisiana due to weather. Houston then has a series against Arizona on the weekend.

Day one recap was written by staff writer Taylor Hawthorne, day two by staff writer Jhair Romero and day three by Sports Editor Andres Chio.

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