H-TOWN HEROS

Local sports legends shine at second annual Houston Sports Awards

Alex Bregman was a big hit. Photo by Paul Muth.

Originally appeared on CultureMap Houston.

From Olympic gold medalists to World Series champions, heavyweight boxing greats to football and basketball MVPs, the blue carpet at the second annual Houston Sports Awards was a veritable line of legends at the Hilton Americas Downtown.

The Houston Sports Awards were created last year to celebrate and recognize the accomplishments of Houston's own sporting community, both past and present. Last year featured the first round of inductees: Hakeem Olajuwon, Earl Campbell, and Nolan Ryan.

This year's awards dinner was hosted by longtime Houston Sports commentator Bill Worrell, and featured A-list award presenters such as Calvin Murphy of the Houston Rockets, Andre Johnson of the Houston Texans, and former Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, fresh from his Super Bowl appearance with the Los Angeles Rams.

The Houston Sports Authority inducted Hall of Fame golfer Jack Burke, Jr., racing legend AJ Foyt, hometown hero and heavyweight champion boxer George Foreman, and Houston Oilers quarterback (and man about town) Dan Pastorini.

"This is extra special to me," Foreman told CultureMap on the red carpet. "These are legends, can you believe? I didn't even know that I'd meet them one day."

As one of the late arrivals, Astros third baseman Alex Bregman was greeted to massive cheers from frenzied fans. Upon learning mid-interview that the crowd was composed of mostly students from tragedy-stricken Santa Fe High School, Bregman pulled away from the media, slid off the blue carpet and spent roughly five minutes taking selfies and signing autographs for the students.

"I'm happy to have them here," Bregman told us.

This year's Coach of the Year award was accepted via satellite from Sacramento — Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni won out over fellow nominees AJ Hinch of the Houston Astros, Bill O'Brien of the Houston Texans, and University of Houston men's basketball coach Kelvin Sampson.

The Moment of the Year award was a tight field among the professional sports, but it was the late additional nomination of North Shore High School's State Championship-clinching Hail Mary reception that took home the hardware.

"It's an incredible experience, and one that I don't think people understand unless you're in the Houston area," Head Coach Jon Kay told CultureMap. "This trophy's going to be in the field house, right next to our state championship."

Houston Texans star defensive end, JJ Watt received his second consecutive Sportsmanship Award for his selfless work with the victims of the Santa Fe High School shooting. Watt took the trophy from the former SFHS students presenting and handed it right back to the students to keep.

The evening continued as High School Athlete of the Year was presented to Woodlands High School track and football standout Kasean Clark, while University of Houston quarterback D'Eriq King received the College Athlete of the Year.

"It's been a lot of hard work since my high school days," King explained after receiving the award. "It's very humbling, and I'm excited that I get to play in my hometown in front of my family and friends. It's just been a wild ride."

The evening reached its peak when the Athlete of The Year segment began. The Houston Sports Authority was tasked with choosing between breakout Astros' Alex Bregman, Rockets (and NBA) MVP James Harden, Texans first team All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, and gold medal gymnast phenom Simone Biles.

To find out who won, read the rest of the story on CultureMap.

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The losing streak continues

Mariners get walk-off win over short-staffed Astros

Alex De Goti had an impressive debut. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

After a brutal homestand capped off by losing five players to the IL for health and safety protocols, the once 5-1 Astros brought their now 6-6 record to T-Mobile park in Seattle to try and right the ship. They'd have to do it with new and young players in the lineup using the "next man up" mentality to get some wins against the first-place Mariners.

Though the young bats would work themselves into a lead most of the night, Houston's bullpen wouldn't be able to hold the Mariners down, with Seattle ultimately walking things off in the ninth.

Final Score: Mariners 6, Astros 5

Astros' Record: 6-7, fourth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Anthony Misiewicz (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Ryne Stanek (0-1)

After a quiet start, Houston gets three in the fifth

After cruising through the Astros through the first four innings, allowing only a walk over that span, Houston was able to put up a big inning against Yusei Kikuchi in the top of the fifth. Carlos Correa notched the first hit of the night, followed by a walk by Taylor Jones to put two on base.



That brought Alex De Goti, making his major-league debut, to the plate and, in his second career at-bat, would get his first hit and RBI, bringing in Correa from second on a single. A second run would come on the same play on a throwing error, then Chaz McCormick made it a three-run inning with an RBI-double, putting Houston out front 3-0.

Urquidy comes an out shy of a quality start

Meanwhile, Jose Urquidy was doing well through five innings. On track for a much-needed quality start, the Mariners would tag him in the bottom of the sixth, getting three-straight hits to bring in two runs to lead off the frame and leaving a runner on second base with no outs.

Urquidy would rebound to get the next two batters on strikeouts, but at 90 pitches and with a left-handed hitter up next, Dusty Baker would bring in lefty Brooks Raley to try and get out of the inning with the one-run lead intact. Raley would do his job, putting Uruidy's line final: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 90 P.

Teams trade two-run seventh innings

The young bats for Houston struck again in the top of the seventh, with Jones and De Goti leading it off with back-to-back singles before Jason Castro would load the bases with a walk. With two outs, Aledmys Diaz would push the lead back to three with a two-RBI single, making it 5-2.

With Raley out after facing his one batter, next out of Houston's bullpen was Bryan Abreu to help maintain Houston's lead. Instead, he would give up two runs on two hits and a walk while getting just two outs before Baker moved on to Blake Taylor, who would get the last out of the seventh with Houston hanging on to a one-run lead at 5-4.

Mariners get the walk-off win

Taylor remained in the game in the bottom of the eighth, and after getting an out, would allow a game-tying solo home run to Evan White before injuring himself trying to field an infield single. Ryne Stanek entered and finished off the eighth, sending the tie game to the ninth.

After Houston came up empty in the top half, Stanek remained in the game in the bottom of the ninth, attempting to force extras. Back-to-back walks ended Stanek's night, with the Astros hoping Ryan Pressly could bail them out. He couldn't, though, giving up the walk-off hit as the Mariners would take the opener, 6-5.

Up Next: Game two of this three-game set will start an hour earlier on Saturday, with first pitch at 8:10 PM Central. Zack Greinke (1-1, 4.08 ERA) will try to rebound from a poor start his last time out for the Astros, while the Mariners will hand the ball to Chris Flexen (1-0, 4.50 ERA).

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