HUNTSVILLE – One day after not finding its rhythm offensively, Sam Houston State provided re-assurance and much more in a 20-5 victory against Buffalo on Friday afternoon.
The Bearkats pounded out 21 hits, saw all nine starters cross the plate and scored in seven different innings to even the series entering Saturday’s 3 p.m. rubber match. Hunter Hearn led the charge, finishing 4 for 5 with a career-high six RBIs and three runs scored.
Nine different batters logged a hit including five with multi-hit performances. Shortstop Taylor Beene produced just one but made it count, depositing a three-run home run over the left field wall.
Lance Miles continued his surge, moving his hit streak to six games with his second four-hit performance in the last five outings. Leadoff-hitter Bryce Johnson registered three hits as did designated hitter Blake Chisolm who also added four runs scored.
Seth Ballew picked up his second victory, scattering nine hits and five runs while striking out a career-high six and walking two. The left-hander threw a career-high 120 pitches across seven innings. The Kats tagged all four Buffalo pitchers for three-plus runs including starter Charlie Sobieraski (0-5), who allowed nine hits and eight runs (seven earned) across 4 1-3 frames.
Sam Houston reliever Colin Cameron made his second appearance, holding the Bulls without a hit while striking out a pair in two innings.
Sam Houston notched 11 two-out RBIs and batted 10 for 18 (.556) with two down. The Kats finished 13 for 26 (.500) with runners in scoring position leading to the team’s fourth double-digit run performance in the last six games.
Hunter Hearn’s six-RBI performance marked the first time the feat had occurred for a Bearkat since current-Kansas City Royals’ No. 8 prospect Ryan O’Hearn accomplished the feat on May 3, 2014 against Stephen F. Austin.
HOW IT HAPPENED
For a second-straight day against Buffalo, the Bearkats took the early lead, tacking on a run in the first inning. Clayton Harp and Andrew Fregia each fought off pitchers’ counts to shoot doubles into identical spots in right center for the 1-0 advantage.
Buffalo responded in the third, taking a 2-1 lead as Ben Haefner deposited a triple into right center, scoring nine-hole hitter Phillip Tomasulo who led off with a single and Brian Dudek who drew a full-count walk. Ballew buckled down, stranding a pair with as many strikeouts.
After the bats were silenced to the tune of three runs in the opener, Sam Houston broke through for as many runs in the third. Clayton Harp and Lance Miles led off the frame with singles and Andrew Fregia loaded the bases with no outs on a walk.
Blake Chisolm followed shooting a single into right field to plate Harp and Rojas added another on a double play groundout. With two down, Hearn sent a single to left center for the 4-2 lead.
An inning later, another big two-out hit extended the Sam Houston lead to 5-2. Riley McKnight led off the frame with a five-pitch walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. That allowed Lance Miles to place his team-leading eighth double into right center.
The Bulls clawed back with a run in the fifth but the Kats responded in a big way in the bottom half. Blake Chisolm drilled a full-count pitch off the 400-foot wall in center, for the leadoff double. Rojas followed, reaching on an error by the second baseman before Hunter Hearn lined a first-pitch RBI single to center.
After Taylor Beene moved the runners on second and third on the sacrifice bunt, the Kats bats stayed hot. Pinch-hitter Jaxxon Grisham drove a ball into deep center field, scoring Rojas from third. Then, Bryce Johnson recorded his fifth career triple and third of the season for the 8-3 lead.
Despite a pair of three-run frames, the biggest damage came in the sixth. The Kats tagged freshman reliever Greg Dunham for four hits and five runs highlighted by three-run triple from Hearn moving his RBI total to a career-best five.
Sam Houston added four more runs in the seventh highlighted by a three-run homer from Beene and tacked on two more in the eighth courtesy of an RBI single from Miles and a two-run double from Hunter Southerland, who entered the game as a pinch hitter.
Head coach Matt Deggs on the victory…
“It was a great day. It hasn’t been 24 hours since we lost the opener. I am thankful for that. It was a good test for us to see how we’d bounce back and respond. It all starts with your starting pitcher and the tone he sets and I thought Seth Ballew set an incredible tone. He has gotten better, better and better the last three starts. It’s good to see us back to playing good baseball.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the resiliency to respond after Thursday’s loss…
“I told them this morning I was thankful for it. We don’t have time to bleed or sweat over it. You look across the landscape of college baseball and the best of the best are getting taken out. It doesn’t matter the school or the size of the school. We’re not invincible. We got knocked down and we came back swinging today. That’s all you can ask of anybody.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the offense…
“I am real proud of the hitters. A couple of them didn’t start off very good today. Lance Miles went on two have four knocks today. Hunter Hearn, same thing, and comes back and makes an adjustments. Bryce Johnson, I am real proud of that kid. Hitters are grinding. They just keep coming after you wave after wave. They will continue to do what it takes to win.”
Taylor Beene on the win and his home run…
“Seth Ballew gave us a great opportunity to bounce back after yesterday. We got the sticks going early and we just kept producing with two out knocks. Those are backbreakers. Hunter Hearn had a great at-bat before me. He dragged it out, got a knock and an RBI and kept it going with two outs. The pitcher had some sink on his ball. I was able to get a barrel on it.”
Hunter Hearn on his six-RBI performance and recent surge…
“I am seeing the ball well but I think it’s all in our preparation before the game and every day. We hit, we hit and we hit. I think everyone is sticking with it and it looks really good for us right now. As you can see, it’s pretty contagious. We all have confidence in the person before and behind us.”