HUNTSVILLE – Sam Houston State stranded nine on base and permitted five critical walks, falling 5-3 in the opener of a three-game series to Buffalo on Thursday at Don Sanders Stadium.
The Bearkats (16-6) could not solve Buffalo (5-13) starter Alec Tuohy, who allowed seven hits and three runs over eight innings while fanning eight and walking three. Sam Houston looks to turn it around on Friday, taking on the Bulls in the middle game at 11 a.m.
The loss snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Bearkats. Sam Houston entered the matchup having won 14 of 15, averaging 8.4 runs per game during that stretch. The three runs on Thursday were the fewest since scoring as many in a 3-1 victory against Lamar six games prior.
Making his first start, left-handed freshman Kyle Backhus (1-1) drew the loss, permitting five hits and three runs in 3 2-3 innings. The Willis High School product fanned a season-high seven and walked three in his 11th overall appearance.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Sam Houston jumped on the board in the first as Andrew Fregia sent a single through the left side, scoring Clayton Harp who notched a one-out double to right center. The RBI was Fregia’s 17th, tying the sophomore with Harp and Rojas for the team lead.
After stranding a pair of Buffalo runners in the second and third, the Bulls finally broke through in the fourth. The squad put a pair of runners on to begin the frame and notched consecutive RBI singles, a hit by pitch and bases-loaded walk to take a 3-1 lead.
The outburst chased Backhus from the game. Making his first-career start, the freshman was largely effective, fanning a season-high seven but allowed three walks and five hits. Reliever Mark Hammel entered and cleaned up, stranding the bases loaded with a pop out to Robie Rojas in foul ground.
The Kats grabbed one run back in the fifth as Harp recorded an RBI groundout to first, sending Riley McKnight home. McKnight reached to begin the frame with a walk and advanced to second on a balk before moving to third on a Bryce Johnson groundout.
Buffalo took advantage of Sam Houston miscues, scoring two runs without a hit in the eighth. The Bulls scored their runs off a bases-loaded walk and wild pitch. In total, Sam Houston permitted a pair of free passes, a hit by pitch and error in the inning as the Bulls extended their lead to 5-2.
Sam Houston seemed poised for a big rally in the ninth as Hunter Hearn led off the frame with a single up the middle. That Kats chased Tuohy as Taylor Beene drew a six-pitch walk and greeted reliever Logan Harasta with a Riley McKnight free pass to load the bases with no outs.
Harasta buckled down, striking out Bryce Johnson looking. Pinch-hitter Jaxxon Grisham lifted a sacrifice fly into left center, trimming the lead to 5-3 with two down but a Lance Miles line-drive out to first stranded a pair and sealed the game.
Head coach Matt Deggs on the series-opening loss…
“We try to take records and opponent and throw that out the window. The game is within our team and how well we can play the game of baseball. Tonight we were a little too generous. Offensively, we punched out nine times. That’s not our typical game. It is incredibly difficult to go 14 out of 15. When you look at the landscape of college baseball, you’re going to see really good teams drop a game. The mark of a great team is those who can bounce back and be the same team every game.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the runners left on base…
“Tuohy really spotted his fastball well and he could throw the breaking ball for a strike any time he wanted. When you can do that at our level, it’s going to be tough on the hitter. We strand nine but a lot of that was their guy. He pitched in and out of jams. Their whole team played great.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the start from Kyle Backhus…
“I thought he gave us three pretty good innings. I think it’s a matter of us getting his pitch count up. I know he isn’t going to be satisfied with where he was but I thought he did pretty well. You saw him hit a wall there but he has been out of the bullpen all year. That kid has a world of potential. He’ll learn from this and be much better next time out.”