HUNTSVILLE – Sam Houston scored in seven of eight innings and Incarnate Word had no answer against Heath Donica as the Bearkats captured the series opener, 15-1 at Don Sanders Stadium on Thursday night.
Donica (8-1) limited the Cardinals to just one hit, a solo homer to lead off the fifth, while holding his ERA at 1.82. The senior used just 55 pitches to toss five frames, fanning six while permitting two walks and setting down 12-straight UIW hitters after a leadoff free pass.
The Bearkats (34-20, 17-11 Southland) scored two runs in each inning between the first and third before tacking on three more in the fourth and fifth. Sam Houston's 20 hits, coming from 10 different players, were the most since tagging Buffalo for 21 on March 24.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Sam Houston jumped ahead early, taxing UIW (20-34, 8-20 SLC) starter John Shull (4-8) for 30 pitches. Fregia connected on an RBI double into left center, plating Johnson, who singled and swiped second before Harp fought off a 0-2 pitch for a bloop run-scoring single into right for a 2-0 lead.
The Bearkats tacked on two more in the second, recording four-straight singles, with three coming on the first pitch. Riley McKnight sent an RBI single up the middle, following base knocks from Jaxxon Grisham and Taylor Beene. Johnson plated another on an infield hit, his eighth-straight plate appearance reaching base, to provide Sam Houston a 4-0 advantage.
Sam Houston continued its trend in the third as Chisolm sent a run-scoring single into shallow left, scoring Rojas who led off by rifling a double into left center. After two quick outs, Beene sent his first pitch just inside the third base bag for a double and 6-0 edge.
Harp began the scoring in the fourth, driving a sacrifice fly to the warning track in center. With two down, the Cardinals appeared poised to escape further damage but Rojas singled through the right side and Chisolm tagged a first-pitch, two-run homer over the wall in left for the 9-0 lead.
The Bearkats struck for three more in the fifth while loading the bases on a sky-high single into shallow center from Fregia. A wild pitch brought home the first and Harp punched a two-run single up the middle for the 12-1 lead while marking the 13th time this season the team has scored double-digit runs.
Johnson continued his big day an inning later, sending a two-out single into left center, scoring Jaxxon Grisham who recorded his second hit of the game with a single into center. The Kats were unable to put a run across in the seventh but it was a big frame for freshman Cross Austin who recorded his first career hit with a hot shot to third base.
The Cardinals threatened only once, loading the bases with two down in the eighth but reliever Dominic Robinson buckled down, inducing a fly out to left ending the threat. The left-hander picked up his third save, tossing the final four innings, scattering four hits while fanning five and walking a pair.
Sam Houston added two more in the home half courtesy of singles from Fregia and pinch hitter Hunter Southerland. The 15-run outburst marked the most since scoring 19 on April 1 at Abilene Christian.
The two teams return for the middle game on Friday with first pitch scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sam Houston will send right-hander Hayden Wesneski (8-2, 3.93 ERA) to the mound to face right-hander Bernie Martinez (3-5, 4.54 ERA). Tickets are still available via GoBearkats.com.
Head coach Matt Deggs on the victory…
“It was good to see us keep the momentum going. I thought we played with a big edge on Tuesday night. Coming back out here tonight, we continued that and kind of validated what we did on Tuesday. I thought Heath got us off to a great start. We were able to get him out of there after 55 pitches with the win which was big for us going into the tournament. I thought Dom did a great job coming in, throwing strikes and making them swing the bat. The offense took care of the rest. We were clicking on all cylinders.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on having 10 different players record hits…
“We were able to play everybody tonight. It was good because those guys work just as hard as everyone else. I was happy for them. Three or four of them had really good at bats. I thought as a group offensively we were very tough to deal with. We got our swings off on time and executed with a lot of clutch hits.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the offense and defensive performance…
“These guys can smell it. They know what time of year it is. It was a great night to hit. The played fast, hard and loose. We defended it really well. We attacked the baseball defensively and were able to dominate routine plays.”