MEET THE SABERCATS

New rugby team offers Houstonians a fun night out with family and friends

The Sabercats offer a great fan experience. Courtney Sellers

Many wondered if Houston would be able to support another professional team. We’ve got the big three teams, plus a men's and women’s soccer team, a minor league baseball team, and now a rugby club drawing the attention of Houston citizens. The Sabercats first game was a sellout – drawing over 5,000 fans in a blowout win over the Seattle Saracens. It was a fun night full of Rugby fans young and old, both new to the sport and veterans. There was a group of young English Rugby fans – living in the States who were excited to watch Houston’s first professional game. A father with his two young sons sat right on the pitch (just behind home plate if you’re thinking of Constellation Field like a baseball diamond) to watch their first match ever. An exciting time out with dad, they were eager to see how the game was played. A father who played rugby in high school watched with his parents, girlfriend, and young daughter explaining the game to the girl while she ate a box of Mike and Ikes on the grassy hill behind the Sabercat’s first half goal.

What draws people 17 miles from the city center to watch the sport? Billy, Tom, and Alex -- three guys I met on opening night -- all played rugby growing up and Tom has two caps with the English National Team. For them, it was exciting to watch the sport they grew up playing and missed here in the states live and in person right in the town they now call home. For Nick and his sons Oliver, 3 and Mason, 6 it was an opportunity to spend quality time together and see a new sport they had never thought of previously. Dane Butterfield enjoyed explaining the game to his girlfriend Taylor and daughter Zoe. His parents were also in attendance. Dane played football in the States before the family expatriated to England for his high school years. Football isn’t an option at the schools there, so Butterfield decided to join the Rugby team instead – its similarities to football the main draw. He played hooker – one of the front line positions -- until the family moved back to the States where he played for the inaugural Katy Barbarians club team – which is still in existence today as one of two rugby clubs in the West Houston/Katy area. Having the opportunity to enjoy a game with family while also passing on the love of the sport to his young daughter is exciting and the family plans to attend as many games at Constellation Field as they can. On opening night, they sat on the grassy hill but by game three they had moved to stands right on the 50-meter line – where the best action is.

Games two and three – both losses – had lower turn outs. More than 2,600 fans still came out for game two on January 13th, the freezing temperatures a deterrent to some, but not all as fans watched the Sabercats take on the Vancouver Ravens in a close loss. A crowd of 3,000 showed up for game three where the Sabercats again lost, this time to the Uruguayan National Team. With any new team, they’ve got some kinks to work out, but the atmosphere alone is enough to sustain the fan experience for a while longer. With football ending in just one week, that need we have for contact will be satisfied with the Sabercats.  

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Houston's magic number stays at 2

Astros drop series finale to Mariners after rough start by Greinke

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With their magic number at 2 to secure their spot in the 2020 MLB postseason, the Astros returned to T-Mobile Park in Seattle for this three-game series' finale and rubber game. Here are the highlights from the game:

Final Score: Mariners 3, Astros 2.

Record: 28-28, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Nick Margevicius (2-3, 4.57 ERA)

Losing pitcher: Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA).

Greinke unable to complete five innings

While the Astros were being held scoreless, the Mariners were putting up runs on Zack Greinke. They took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first with back-to-back singles followed by an RBI-double with one out. Greinke would stop the damage there, then looked to settle in over the next few frames.

He allowed just one baserunner in the second through fourth innings, a one-out single in the bottom of the fourth. Then, in the fifth, the Mariners would knock him out of the game by getting a one-out single that would come around to score on a two-out RBI-double, followed by an RBI-single to extend the lead to 3-0. Greinke faced one more batter, allowing a single before Dusty Baker would take the ball and move to the bullpen. His final line: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 0 HR, 92 P.

Astros try a late rally, come up short

On the other end, the Astros were unable to break through against Nick Margevicius, getting just one hit and two walks through the first four innings. They had a chance to get on the board in the top of the fifth, starting the inning with back-to-back singles before a walk loaded the bases with one out to turn the lineup over. They'd come up empty, though, with George Springer striking out before a long flyball to center by Jose Altuve to end the inning.

After finishing the fifth for Greinke, Andre Scrubb returned for a scoreless sixth, working around a one-out walk. Still 3-0, Blake Taylor took over on the mound in the bottom of the seventh, erasing a leadoff single and two-out walk to keep Seattle from extending their lead. Houston had another chance to score in the top of the eighth, getting two runners in scoring position, but again would strand them.

Cy Sneed was the next reliever out for the Astros, working around a two-out walk to send the game on to the ninth. The Astros would avoid the shutout, getting a two-RBI single by pinch-hitting Josh Reddick in the top of the ninth to make it a one-run game at 3-2. That's as close as they'd come, though, as the Mariners would eventually get the final out to take the series and keep the Astros' magic number stagnant at 2.


Up Next: There is one series left in the regular season for Houston, and it awaits them in Arlington with a four-game series against the Rangers, who are well eliminated from playoff contention. The first of the four games will start at 7:05 PM Central on Thursday with a pitching matchup of Lance Lynn (6-2, 2.53 ERA) for Texas and Cristian Javier (4-2, 3.33 ERA) for the Astros.

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