HUNTSVILLE – Sam Houston State exploded offensively and used three late runs to leave little doubt, taking both games of Saturday’s doubleheader for the team’s first series sweep of the season at Don Sanders Stadium.
The Bearkats defeated Bradley, 8-2, in the series finale, following up a 14-7 win in the earlier game. Sam Houston, which hit .386 in the two combined games, has won six straight games, moving its record to 8-4 overall.
Sam Houston received a strong performance from Hayden Wesneski (3-0), who picked up his third straight victory while keeping Bradley (3-6) off the board over the first five frames. The right-hander tossed six innings, scattering six and allowing just one run.
Blake Chisolm, who belted his second home run in the first game, added two more hits and an RBI while Bryce Johnson produced a key eighth inning two-RBI hit after the Braves had trimmed the deficit to three runs.
The Bearkats scored 29 runs during the three-game set while the pitching staff stifled a Bradley offense that entered the weekend averaging 8 ½ runs per game to the tune of a 3.00 ERA. Sam Houston overcame the elements, as well, including a 55-minute rain delay in Saturday’s opener.
Sam Houston produced its third four-plus run inning of the doubleheader in the fourth, pushing four across on five hits including a pair of RBI-doubles from Chisolm and Clayton Harp. Taylor Beene lined an RBI single into right and Jaxxon Grisham, making the start at first, posted an RBI flyout for a 5-0 lead.
For the first time on the afternoon, Wesneski ran into trouble in the sixth. The right-hander recorded a pair of fly outs but Bradley loaded the bases on consecutive singles and a seven-pitch walk.
One hitter later, Andrew Shadid was plunked with the pitch, putting the Braves on the board. With the bags still full, facing Cord Perea-Griffeth, the lone Texas on the Bradley team, Wesneski induced a groundout to third on the 10th pitch of the at-bat, stranding three.
Bradley used a pair of doubles in the seventh to scratch across another run but Mark Hammel, who entered in relief to open the frame, stranded a pair of Braves runners on a pop out.
Sam Houston’s Brad Demco kept the potent Bradley offense at bay in the eighth, recording three-straight strikeouts to end the frame, and Nick Mikolajchak set down the Braves in order in the ninth to secure the victory.
Sam Houston hosts a red-hot Baylor program that entered Saturday as one of the nation’s five remaining Division I unbeaten. The Bears climbed the polls to No. 18 and are expected to improve on that standing after Friday's 4-0 win vs. No. 11 Ole Miss. The squads will play Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. from The Don. Tickets are available through GoBearkats.com.
Head coach Matt Deggs on taking the doubleheader…
“It was kind of a grinded out day. The conditions were terrible. It was cold and raining which makes it tough. It put both teams on an even playing field and it’s all about who wants to go out and compete all day. To finish a 5-0 week, I thought we did a great job taking it.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the 29 runs in three games…
“It felt normal. Hitting is very difficult. Sometimes it takes a little time. I think our schedule has a lot to do with that. We were fortunate in the last couple of weeks where we were exposed in the last couple weeks. We got to make some adjustments and what you’re seeing right now is the pack clicking on all cylinders.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the pitching…
“We go through our bullpen in the first game and Hayden set a great tone for us. He threw up some zeroes and allowed us to put up some runs. We had another two freshmen step up big in Demco and Mikolajchak to finish that thing and they did a great job.”
Designated hitter Blake Chisolm on his performance…
“The series well went for me and the team. We all came together and played really good baseball. Our biggest thing is punching the card every day and showing up to work no matter what is going on. The weather is something you deal with every day. It felt good to get rolling. We are continuing to get better.”
Starting pitcher Hayden Wesneski on his third-straight win…
“You have to keep it down and mix it up with them like any other lineup. The offense gives us some time to relax. I think I am able to fill up the strike zone. I think the game comes easier to both our pitchers and defense. For my first five innings, I thought it was my best performance. I would like to finish the sixth inning a little bit better.”