HUNTSVILLE – Carter Henry kept Sam Houston State off-balance for the better part of five innings. Blake Chisolm put that to an end with one swing of the bat in the sixth.
Chisolm belted a game-tying, two-out, two-run home run and Taylor Beene executed the squeeze bunt an inning later, leading Sam Houston to 3-2 victory against No. 20 Houston on Tuesday at Don Sanders Stadium to cap a three-game sweep in the inaugural Don Sanders Cup series.
The Bearkats (30-15) recorded their sixth-straight game with double-digit hits, overcoming a single-run in the first and second inning from the Cougars (28-16), thanks to some effective work from starter Brad Demco and 5 2-3 innings of scoreless relief from the bullpen.
Dominic Robinson locked up his second save, limiting the Cougars to just one hit over the final two frames while inducing a game-ending double play lineout after putting the leadoff runner aboard in the ninth. Dakota Mills (5-3) secured the win, setting down Houston in order in the seventh.
LONG BALL, SQUEEZE BUNT PROVIDE BOOST
Sam Houston showcased its ability to win in a variety of ways again Tuesday. Clayton Harp, who finished 3-for-3 at the plate, sent a one-out single into center in the sixth. After Henry struck out the following hitter, Chisolm turned on a 2-0 fastball, depositing his third homer of the season over the wall in left center to knot the game at 2-2.
The Cougars turned to vaunted left-hander Seth Romero to record the final out but the Bearkats broke through the junior in the seventh. Bryce Johnson started the rally, sending a first-pitch double down the right field line and proceeded to swipe third, his 21st of the season.
Beene provided the go-ahead RBI, laying down a suicide squeeze bunt on a 0-1 count. The senior, who entered the game 12th nationally in sacrifice bunts, placed a dribbler back to Romero, who had no play but to secure the out at first.
KATS MATCH ZEROES, HOLD HOUSTON IN CHECK
Houston took the early 2-0 lead through two innings behind a combined four hits. The Cougars would manage just one the final seven innings, allowing the Bearkat offense to settle in.
Sam Houston pitching did not allow a hit over 6 1-3 innings following a one-out single in the second. Colin Cameron permitted just one walk in an inning, Riley Cooper held the Cougars to a walk while striking out another over 1 2-3 innings and Mills needed just seven pitches for a flawless frame.
Robinson, who proved big over the weekend against McNeese, again came up clutch, holding the Cougars to a single over the final two frames.
DON'T ADJUST YOUR SCORECARDS
After some trouble defensively last weekend, including five errors in Friday's opener against McNeese, Sam Houston flipped the script on the infield against the Cougars as four infielders made their first starts at different positions.
Andrew Fregia shifted from third base to shortstop. Taylor Beene moved from shortstop to second and Lance Miles moved across the infield to play third. The Kats, who have played three different first basemen this year, gave Blake Chisolm his first opportunity at the bag.
The results paid off. Sam Houston committed just one error, coming in the first inning, before playing perfect baseball the remainder of the outing.
Head coach Matt Deggs on the changes in the infield…
“These guys know I am not the kind of guy that will sit idly by and watch us not get it done at times. I will change it up and mix it up. I think it's good for you mentally too. Those kids are able to play all the positions. Drew is a natural shortstop. Beene looks really good at second base and Lance can play anywhere you want. I thought Chis presented a really big target at first.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on sweeping Houston…
“In terms of a sweep, we really didn't think about it that way. To get to 40 (wins), you have to win every Tuesday. They were just our opponent tonight. To get three games against a quality program like that is big for us and big for our program.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the suicide squeeze call…
“That was our best chance to score off that kid (Romero). Bryce was on third so we wanted to bunt the ball. When you have an opportunity to score off a really good arm, you have to capitalize because we don't know when we're getting another runner on third. I thought was a no-brainer. Beene handles the bat so well that he's very comfortable in that spot.”
Center fielder Bryce Johnson on finding a way to win…
“They have some good arms over there and a lot of guys that throw hard. We stuck with our approach up the middle and it worked out tonight well. We had the momentum. I love that aggressive (squeeze bunt) play. Beene is our go-to guy. That shifted the whole momentum to our side.”
Blake Chisolm on the victory and two-run homer…
“I feel like we're really coming together as a team in the box. We are taking some big-time guys down. We have put in a lot of work. The big thing about that was he was a big-time arm. We just had to keep showing up and keep fighting. We finally started to put some good swings on the ball. It became contagious. Everyone just fell in. I was sitting dead-red fastball and he happened to give it to me.”
Dominic Robinson on his relief outing and effectiveness…
“Dakota Mills set a really good tone for me to come in. I just wanted to come in and do my job. It just shows we can pitch to some of the best hitters in the country. Brad set a great tone on the mound today. I thought it was a great day for the pitching staff.”