HUNTSVILLE - Sam Houston State overcame another late-inning setback to hold off a McNeese rally to even a Southland Conference series with a 5-4 victory in 10 innings Saturday at Don Sanders Stadium.
For the second consecutive game, the Bearkats’ bullpen could not hold a two-run lead in the ninth inning. McNeese scored two runs on two hits and a double-play ball to knot the game at 4-4 and force extra innings when the Bearkats failed to take advantage of a one-out, bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the ninth.
But Sam Houston State (16-8, 8-3 overall) did not let history repeat itself a day after a three-run ninth inning resulted in a Cowboys’ victory. Senior Darien Simms walked to begin the 10th and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and wild pitch. Freshman Reese Johnson launched a walk-off sacrifice fly to right-center field to seal the victory.
Junior Nick Mikolajchak, who took the loss Friday, tossed a perfect top of the 10th with two strikeouts to pick up his first win of the season.
The teams traded scores early in the game until the Bearkats finally put multiple runs on the board in the seventh. Freshman Colton Cowser continued his hot hitting at the plate with a single into center field. Senior Hunter Hearn notched his fourth hit of the game with a single through the right side, and Cowser scored on a groundout.
Senior Jordan Cannon stretched the lead to 4-2 with a double down the first-base line.
The Bearkats broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the third. Cowser led off the inning with single to center field. Hearn followed with a hit to left and both runners advanced on a fielder’s choice.
Cannon made it 2-1 with a fielder’s choice to short.
The Cowboys (15-12, 3-5) tied it again in the top of the fourth on a double-play ball after a softly hit double just inside the left-field line and single that dropped in shallow center field.
The Bearkats got the scoring started in the bottom of the first. Senior Clayton Harp ripped a lead-off single to right-center field and moved into scoring position on a bunt single by senior Riley McNight. With one out, Hearn drove in a run with a single to left.
Sam Houston’s lead was brief. McNeese got two runners on to start the second inning on a single and an error. First baseman Jacob Stracner singled up the middle to pull the Cowboys even at 1-1.
The Bearkats will try to clinch the three-game series in the finale Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Don Sanders Stadium.