Houston Baseball enjoyed another championship season under head coach Todd Whitting as 2017 featured two conference titles, an NCAA Regional host bid and several top individual highlights.
Let's take a look back ...
40+ WIN SEASON | COUGARS FINISH WITH A 42-21 OVERALL RECORD
For the 14th time in program history and third time in the last four years under head coach Todd Whitting, Houston Baseball notched a 40+ win season. The 2017 Cougars finished with a 42-21 overall record.
REGULAR-SEASON CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS
The Cougars captured their ninth regular-season conference title in program history and second in The American Athletic Conference (2017, 2015) under Whitting. Houston finished with a 15-9 league record; tallying six weekend series wins against the nation's Top 4-RPI conference opponents.
AMERICAN CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS
For the sixth time in program history and second in the last four years (2017, 2014), Houston won the American Athletic Conference tournament title in Clearwater, Fla. with a 6-0-shutout victory over East Carolina - earning the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars have advanced to the championship title game all four years of The American's existence.
TWO CHAMPIONSHIPS IN ONE SEASON
After capturing the regular-season title and conference tournament title, the 2017 program became the first Houston team to win both conference championships in the same season since the 2000 squad accomplished that feat - it has only happened three times in program history - 2017, 2000, 1951.
HOUSTON HOSTS NCAA REGIONAL FOR SECOND TIME IN THREE YEARS
For the second time in three years and just the fourth time in program history, Houston earned the right to be one of 16 schools to host an NCAA Regional. The Cougars played as the No. 1 seed and hosted (2) Baylor, (3) Texas A&M and (4) Iowa.
SCHROEDER PARK BROKE ATTENDANCE RECORDS
2017 marked a record-setting year for attendance at Schroeder Park (formally Cougar Field) as 58,840 fans flocked to the ballpark for Houston's 32 home games. The 58,840 was a program-best, while an average of 1,838 also set a program record, topping the previous high of 1,832 in 2015 - a year that also hosted an NCAA Houston Regional. The Cougars finished 2017 with a 23-9 home record at Schroeder Park - marking the fifth straight year with less than 10 home losses on the season.
FRESHMEN SHOW WELL IN DEBUT SEASON
At points during the season, Houston's starting lineup featured up to 6-7 freshmen. The young class made an immediate impact in 2017 with two freshmen in Lael Lockhart Jr. and Jared Triolo becoming everyday starters from Day 1. Lockhart finished the year with a .276 average and scored 36 runs and drove in 27, while playing both the outfield and first base for the Cougars. Triolo added depth, playing both third base and right field, finishing with a .271 average, highlighted by 12 doubles and 39 runs scored.
Other freshmen making offensive contributions were Tyler Bielamowicz - who hit .267, Nick Slaughter, who belted two home runs and hit .282 and Landon Etzel - who was a spark on the base paths, while adding outfield depth with a .258 clip.
Three freshmen pitchers made starts in their debut seasons. LHP Brayson Hurdsman was third on the team with 18 appearances and had three starts to accompany a 3.41 ERA, a 5-2 record and 30 strikeouts in 34.1 innings. RHP Carter Henry moved into the Tuesday starting role late and finished with 14 appearances and six starts with a 5.58 ERA and a 2-1 record. He struck out 40 in 40.1 innings. RHP Fred Villarreal worked both roles as well, tallying 14 appearances and three starts with a 4.25 ERA and a 2-1 record.
Houston won 10 weekends - six of which came in the American Athletic Conference. The Cougars opened 2017 with a weekend sweep of eventual Super Regional team Wake Forest and Nicholls State, followed that up with two wins in the Kleberg Bank College Classic at Whataburger Field.
Weekend sweeps began with Alabama State at home and continued at then-No. 27 UC Irvine on the road before sweeping East Carolina in conference play for three weekend sweeps in 2017.
HOUSTON HITS HOMERS
Houston hit 60 home runs on the year - the most for a Cougar team since hitting 71 in 2006. Jake Scheiner led the team with 18, followed by Connor Wong with 12 and Corey Julks with nine. 2017 marked the first season since 2010 to have two Cougars hit 10+ home runs in the same year. 13 different Cougars hit a home run and eight of the final nine offensive starters had one.
PITCHING STAFF ENJOYED SUCCESS AGAIN
Houston's pitching staff enjoyed success once again, finished third in the nation in walks allowed per nine innings with a 2.28 number (141 walks in 556.2 innings), which was best in The American. The squad also notched a ranking of fourth in the nation in strikeout-to-walk ratio (445 strikeouts to 141 walks) with a 3.16 stat. With a 3.43 ERA, the Cougars were third in The American and 15th-best in the nation.
WHITTING CAPTURES REGIONAL COACH OF THE YEAR HONOR
Head coach Todd Whitting captured the ABCA/Diamond South Central Regional Coach of the Year honor for the second time in his career as the leader of the Houston program. He became the first head coach in program history to win the honor twice in his career, first in 2015.
SCHEINER BECOMES FIRST CONSENSUS ALL-AMERICAN SINCE 2006
Junior Jake Scheiner became Houston's first consensus All-American since Brad Lincoln in 2006. Scheiner earned All-America honors by all six publication/organizations - earning Second Team All-America nods by ABCA/Rawlings, NCBWA, Collegiate Baseball and Third Team honors by D1Baseball, Perfect Game and Baseball America.
CUMBIE TABBED A FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICAN
Sophomore Trey Cumbie made a statement in his second year as a Cougar, becoming an NCBWA First Team All-American - the first for Houston since Brad Lincoln in 2006. Cumbie finished 2017 with a 10-2 record and a conference-leading 2.04 ERA with four complete games and 82 strikeouts in 101.1 innings. Cumbie earned All-America honors by ABCA (Third Team), Perfect Game (Second Team) and Collegiate Baseball (Second Team).
SCHEINER AND CUMBIE EARN AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE'S TOP HONORS
The Houston duo of Jake Scheiner and Trey Cumbie earned the American Athletic Conference's top honors following the 2017 regular-season. Scheiner was tabbed the league's Player of the Year, while Cumbie earned the league's Pitcher of the Year honor. 2017 marked the first year in Houston history for the program to earn both Player and Pitcher of the Year honors in the same season. Cumbie became the fifth Houston pitcher to earn the honor - last was Brad Lincoln in 2006 and Scheiner became the third Cougar in history to win Player of the Year - last was Keith Darter in 1990.
SIX NAMED TO AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE TEAMS
Six Cougars were named to the All-American Athletic Conference teams. Jake Scheiner (UTL), Trey Cumbie (LHP) and Corey Julks (OF) were tabbed First Team honorees, while Connor Wong (C), Joe Davis (DH) and Mitch Ullom (RHP) earned Second Team honors.
NCBWA National Pitcher of the Month (May) | Trey Cumbie (LHP)
National Player of the Week (March 20-21) | Jake Scheiner (INF) | NCBWA, Perfect Game, Collegiate Baseball
Bobby Bragen Collegiate Slugger Semifinalist | Jake Scheiner (INF)
Dick Howser Trophy Semifinalist | Jake Scheiner (INF)
DUO NAMED FIRST TEAM ALL-REGION
Jake Scheiner (INF) and Trey Cumbie (LHP) continued to rack up postseason accolades, earning First Team All-Region honors by ABCA/Rawlings. The two First Team honors was a first for the program since 2014.
SCHEINER WINS HOUSTON'S TRIPLE CROWN
Jake Scheiner hit for the triple crown in 2017 - becoming the first Cougar in program history since Casey Grayson in 2014 to do so. He led Houston with a .346 average, 18 home runs and 64 RBI. He became the 12th Cougar in program history to lead in all three categories in a single season.
CUMBIE BECAME A 10-GAME WINNER
Trey Cumbie finished 2017 with a 10-2 record and became the first 10-game winner since Austin Pruitt finished 10-5 in 2013. Cumbie joined 12 other Cougars in program history with at least 10 wins in a single season.
WONG HITS HOME RUNS AND STEALS BASES
Junior Connor Wong became the first Cougar since Jake Stewart in 2008 to hit 10+ home runs and steal 20+ bases in the same season. The starting catcher finished 2017 with 12 home runs - second-most on the team and led the conference with and finished 11th in the nation with 26 stolen bases.
SCHEINER SHINES WITH 18 HOME RUNS
Jake Scheiner hit 18 home runs in 2017, which landed him second all-time in a Houston single-season. He joins Brett Cooley (2002) and J.P. Woodward (1999) with 18 home runs in one season. Scheiner led the conference with that total and finished 21st in the nation. He is one of 33 Cougars in program history to hit at least 10 home runs in one season.
JULKS ENDS SEASON ON HIGH NOTE
Corey Julks ended the season on an active 25-game on base streak and a 10-game hitting steak. The All-Conference outfielder reached base in 46 of the final 47 games and during those 47 games, he tallied a hit in 40 of them. He had two season-long on-base streaks, first a 21-game and finally, a 25-gamer. He wrapped up the year on a 10-game hitting streak, which he saw a multi-hit game in eight of those contests.
LEADOFF HOME RUNS
Houston enjoyed hitting 60 home runs as a team this season and of the 60, 18 led off an inning. Connor Wong paced the Cougars in leadoff home runs, tallying seven of the 18 and of the seven, four happened in his first at-bat to leadoff the game. Jake Scheiner had five leadoff home runs of his team-leading 18 total.
MULTIPLE HOME RUN GAMES
As a team, Houston had 16 games in which the Cougars had a multi-home run contest. Houston hit a season-best four home runs in a win over Alabama State (March 19) - three of which came off the bat of Jake Scheiner. All three home runs in a win over Tulane (April 23) were hit by Connor Wong. Scheiner had another multi-home run game, hitting two vs. McNeese (March 14) joining Corey Julks, who belted two at Tulane (May 12) - both coming in the ninth-inning alone.
FLETCHER RETURNS AND SHOWS WELL
A year removed from Tommy John surgery, sophomore reliever Aaron Fletcher was Houston's go-to hurler in the backend of the bullpen as he led the team with 21 appearances and eight saves on the year. He was 2-1 with a 2.40 ERA and struck out 41 in 41.1 innings - holding opponents to a .244 average.
COMPLETE GAMES & FEW WALKS
Senior John King (LHP) and Trey Cumbie (LHP) were lights out when it came to keeping opposing hitters off base from free passes as the southpaw starters combined for just 25 total walks in 182.1 innings, while also tossing seven combined complete games with three complete game shutouts. King had more starts (12) than walks (10) on the year and tallied three complete games, while Cumbie walked just 15 and tallied four complete games for ninth-best in the nation - three of which came in consecutive order during conference play.
COUGARS WELL-REPRESENTED DURING MLB DRAFT
Houston saw six Cougars taken in the 2017 MLB Draft, four of which were drafted in the Top 10 rounds.
- Connor Wong | 3rd Round | Los Angeles Dodgers
- Jake Scheiner | 4th Round | Philadelphia Phillies
- Corey Julks | 8th Round | Houston Astros
- John King | 10th Round | Texas Rangers
- Trey Cumbie | 38th Round | Houston Astros
- Cooper Coldiron | 39th Round | Chicago Cubs
2017 marks the first year since 2004 that Houston had at least two Top 5 Round MLB Draft selections (Wong, Scheiner - 2017 | Garrett Mock, Rob Johnson - 2004). The four drafted among the Top 10 Rounds was the most since 2003.
FAREWELL TO SENIOR John King
Houston rostered just one senior on the 2017 team in John King. A left-handed pitcher out of Missouri City, Texas, King was a two-year letterwinner for the Cougars and wrapped a successful stint at Houston by being drafted in the 10th Round by the Texas Rangers. King finished the year with an 8-1 record and was second-best on the team with a 3.11 ERA. He totaled 81.0 innings with 40 strikeouts to just 10 walks and had three complete games and one complete game shutout.
Houston was ranked among the nation's Top 25 every week during the 2017 season and finished ranked as high as No. 20 by Perfect Game. The Cougars were ranked as high as No. 11 during Week 6 of the season by Perfect Game and among the nation's Top 20 by five different polls entering NCAA Regional play.