HAMMOND, La. – Sam Houston State took a one-run lead in the seventh only to see Southeastern Louisiana's Carson Crites sink the Bearkats for a second-straight day an inning later.
The junior sent a two-out, two-run double off the wall in right field, propelling the Lions past Sam Houston, 3-2, on Saturday at Alumni Field. Sam Houston (30-17, 15-8 Southland) looks to salvage the series finale on Sunday with first pitch slated for 1 p.m.
Kyle Backhus was sharp in his first-career Southland Conference start, limiting the Lions to a pair of hits and one run over a career-high five innings. The freshman fanned four while walking two before exiting with a no decision.
The Lions' Payton Robertson (4-0) picked up the victory, cleaning up a bases-loaded one-out jam in the eighth while allowing just one hit in 1 2-3 innings. Nick Mikolajchak (0-2) drew the loss, permitting the game-winning double from Crites.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Backhus provided Sam Houston a tone-setting start, holding the Lions off the board over the first three frames using some defensive help including Clayton Harp cutting down Drew Avans attempting to take second on second-inning single. An inning later, Backhus picked off Evan Pace, erasing a leadoff walk.
The Bearkats took a 1-0 lead in the fourth as Blake Chisolm connected on a two-out single into center, plating Taylor Beene who began the inning with a single. Southeastern (31-15, 17-9) answered quickly, using a leadoff solo home run from Ryan Byers, his ninth of the season, to tie the game.
It would be the only run allowed off Backhus, who escaped trouble in the fifth. The left-hander put the leadoff man, Avans, aboard via a hit by pitch but the Kats caught the junior off second as Lance Miles made a diving snag on a grounder and fired in to second. Backhus set down the next two in order.
The teams exchanged zeroes again until the seventh when Fregia belted a one-out pitch into left center, sliding into the bag for his 12th career triple. The three-bagger moved the sophomore into a tie for third in program history in the category with Steve Bates and marked the first time a Bearkat had registered at least 12 career triples since 1985.
Chisolm followed, again coming up big, sending a 0-1 grounder to the right side. The Lions came home with the throw but Fregia slid in safely, putting Sam Houston ahead 2-1.
Sam Houston loaded the bases with one down in the eighth as Hunter Hearn sent a leadoff single into left, Bryce Johnson reached on a fielder's choice bunt and Miles was intentionally walked. The Lions turned to the bullpen, however, as Robinson fanned two consecutive.
In the bottom half, Crites, who provided the walk-off, 11th-inning single less than 24 hours prior, drilled a two-out, two-run double off the wall in right to give the Lions a 3-2 advantage. The knock came off Mikolajchak, who walked his first hitter before permitting the two-bagger.
Head coach Matt Deggs' opening thoughts on the loss…
“It was another great ballgame. It was chalked full of great pitching on both sides, great defense and some timely hitting. I thought we had that thing on lockdown and they were able to punch out a couple in the eighth. We had the guys in there that we wanted in the game. We just weren't able to get it done today. I know we haven't had the result that we're looking for the last two days but that has been two good teams going at it. It was a heavyweight fight.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the performance from Kyle Backhus…
“You also have to look in the future some too. The future is very bright here. We're running some freshmen out there with really good arms. KB gave us a great start. Just about every freshman we have thrown out there has competed really well. They're going to be really good down the road. We can't get caught up in the disappointment of two heartbreaking losses and come back tomorrow.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the eighth inning…
“I thought the game really swung when we had bases loaded with one out. We've done a great job cashing in during that spot all year and they were able to come away from that without giving up any runs. That swung the momentum back to their side a little bit and we weren't able to get off the field there in the eighth. We'll continue to work and get better. We'll be ready to go tomorrow.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the strong defensive effort…
“We started getting some of the arrogance back defensively and some of the confidence back. You can go into a little funk defensively as easy as you can offensively. I thought Bryce has stepped up and played a tremendous series. Beene has played very well moving him over to second. Robie has looked like an All-American behind the plate. The guys are disappointed, I know but tomorrow is a brand new day. We need to focus on the positives. We're playing good baseball. We just need to cash in.”