HUNTSVILLE – On a tough night for hitting and facing an equally as challenging Pepperdine pitching staff, Sam Houston State found a way to get it done.
The Bearkats (5-4) could not muster a run for six straight innings between the second and seventh before using a walk and eventual game-winning wild pitch in the eighth for the squad’s third-consecutive victory with a 2-1 result against the Waves (4-3) on Wednesday.
One day after belting a three-run home run, Blake Chisolm drew as many walks, with his final coming to lead off the eighth. A pair of groundouts moved pinch-runner Garrett Miller to third and a two-out, two-strike pitch to Lance Miles bounced in front of the catcher, allowing Miller to plate.
Sam Houston reliever Kyle Backhus (1-0) picked up his first victory, tossing a scoreless eighth while fanning one. For the second time in as many days, freshman reliever Nick Mikolajchak earned the save, allowing nothing more than a two-out hit in the ninth.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Sam Houston and Pepperdine exchanged runs in the opening frame. The Waves took a 1-0 lead behind a leadoff double from Quincy McAfee, who advanced to third on an errant pickoff attempt and came home to score on a Matt Gelalich sacrifice fly.
The Bearkats responded as Bryce Johnson and Mac Odom reached on a single and full-pitch walk, respectively. Andrew Fregia was successful in laying down the sacrifice bunt and Robie Rojas beat out an infield single to knot the game at 1-1.
Sam Houston would put six runners on, five via the free pass between the third and fifth innings, but could not get on the board. Likewise, Pepperdine saw five runners reach but were turned away by starter Gabriel Sequeira and Mark Hammel, who entered in the fifth.
Despite producing three hits, the Kats drew nine walks including three a piece from Odom and Chisolm. Sam Houston pitching scattered seven hits including four from Sequeira who tossed 4 2-3 innings, permitting four hits and one run (none earned) in his first collegiate start.
Jordan Cannon also added a scoreless inning of work, setting down three straight Pepperdine hitters. The Waves were led by Gelalich, who produced a pair of hits in as many at-bats and the lone RBI.
Sam Houston continues its eight-game homestand on Friday, beginning a three-game set with Bradley at 6:30 p.m. The Bearkats have won 23 of their last 28 games at Don Sanders Stadium. Tickets are still available by calling (936) 294-1729 or by visiting GoBearkats.com.
Head coach Matt Deggs on the third-straight victory…
“They just find a reason to win. When they find that reason, they latch onto it and go do it. I thought it was a heck of a ballgame. There wasn’t much going, there was a wind in your face and it was chilly. They can really pitch over there. It was a great opponent for us. We’ve been able to string together three quality wins and it has all started with pitching and defense for us.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the bullpen performances …
“I thought the guy that did a great job out of the bullpen tonight was Mark Hammel. It was good to see him come in and stop what they had going. The (Jordan) Cannon – (Kyle) Backhus – (Nick) Miko combination was really good to see. We have been wanting to stack those three.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the nine walks …
“We’re really trying to hone in on the strike zone. Like I said, we are getting pitched tougher. The book is out on these guys so we’ve got to be able to adjust. Bottom line is, you have to get on base and when you do that, you have to make stuff happen. I thought we did a good job of competing and finding our way on base. We should have busted the game open early.”
Freshman reliever Nick Mikolajchak on his second save and the win streak…
“I had a slow fall and I knew I was capable of better. I had a rough first outing but Coach Deggs has continued to give me opportunities to show what I can do. I definitely like getting in at the end of the game with the pressure. We’re starting to throw up zeroes. A lot of us were the main starters in high school but we’re all falling into our roles really well. It’s a great group of personalities.”