Chase Almendarez had some advice for the Round Rock Hairy Men before they played the Victoria Generals at Riverside Stadium.
Almendarez told his hitters to do their best to get the ball in the air to left field.
“That’s what I said,” Almendarez exclaimed. “I said, ‘a pop fly to left field will usually carry out. Trust me, I have some experience here.’”
Almendarez played his junior and senior seasons as a catcher at UHV.
He hit nine home runs and had 47 RBIs, while becoming the school’s first player to be named to the Google Cloud Academic All-America College Division Baseball Team.
Almendarez returned to Riverside Stadium for the first time since he graduated in May of 2018 with a degree in communications, and led the Hairy Men to a three-game sweep over the Generals.
“It was weird being in the visiting dugout,” Almendarez said. “We actually went in the visiting clubhouse and that’s the very first time I’ve ever been in there. But it was fun and I love Riverside. This is one of my favorite stadiums ever. It’s a blessing to be back here.”
Almendarez thought he might spend more time at Riverside Stadium as a graduate assistant coach for the Jaguars under head coach Terry Puhl.
“Right after my senior year, I approached Ash (Walyuchow, the athletic director) and coach Puhl about being a graduate assistant here,” Almendarez said. “That was something I wanted to pursue before the job with the (Round Rock) Express came open.”
Almendarez’s father, Chris, is the President of the Express, the Houston Astros’ affiliate in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League.
Almendarez went to work as the Express’ Director of Baseball Operations two days after graduating from UHV.
He oversees all baseball-related aspects of the organization, including team travel, umpire coordination and all amateur baseball events, such as the annual UIL state tournament at Dell Diamond.
He also serves as the Director for Express Camps and is an active coach in the Express Select program.
“Every baseball event we have, I have a hand in, which is fun to be around,” he said. “I love to do what I’m doing, especially staying around the game of baseball.”
Almendarez got the opportunity to coach in the Texas Collegiate League after the minor league season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They approached us and we were able to host a team,” he said. “Being based out of Central Texas, there are a lot of kids in that area which is nice. Of course, it helps to have my brother (Luke) at U of H and he recruited his buddies to come down.”
Almendarez is hoping to lead the Hairy Men into the playoffs before returning to his duties with the Express.
“It’s been awesome,” he said. “Especially these kids, their season got cut short in March and for them to be back on the baseball field. They’re having fun and a lot of them played high school ball together or against each other. To get them all surrounded by each other has definitely been a fun season.”