Ryan Hernandez’s big debut lifts Cougars past Penguins in season opener
In his Houston debut, junior first baseman Ryan Hernandez stole the show in the Cougars’ season-opening 7-3 win over the Youngstown State Penguins on Friday night at Schroeder Park.
Hernandez, who slashed .295/.390/.409 with San Jacinto College in 2019, finished with three runs on his 3-for-3 batting, even stealing a base in Houston’s victory.
The Brookline, Massachusetts native followed up senior pitcher Lael Lockhart Jr.’s two-strikeout top of the first inning with an RBI double to score sophomore second baseman Brad Burckel, who reached base with a bunt.
Senior left fielder Tyler Bielamowicz two-out single two at-bats later allowed Hernandez to score and put the Cougars up 2-0.
Houston suffered a rough fifth inning that saw Lockhart, who punched out six batters in 4.2 innings pitched, give up three hits and Youngstown State take a 3-2 lead, but Hernandez’s hot bat woke up the Cougars’ offense in the sixth.
The junior’s single through the left side and two walks from Penguins pitcher Colin Clark loaded the bases for Houston, and all it took was junior outfielder Steven Rivas’ sacrifice fly to score Hernandez and sophomore Ian McMillan’s single to put UH back up 4-3.
Another Bielamowicz hit, this time a two-out double to left center, carried Burckel and Hernandez home in the seventh inning after the first baseman was intentionally walked by the Penguins.
The dagger came an at-bat later when Youngstown State junior pitcher Chad Coles balked to score sophomore designated hitter Bryson Hill to give Houston the 7-3 lead, sealing the Penguins’ fate.
Senior pitcher Brayson Hursdman, who struck out six over 4.0 innings, earned the win for UH, while the Penguins’ Clark took the loss.