CONWAY, Ark. -- For the second straight day the Bearkats couldn’t buy a clutch hit as they lost 4-1 to Northwestern State and were eliminated from the Southland Tournament. Sam Houston (41-17) will now have to wait to find out if they will earn a third-straight at-large selection to the NCAA Tournament.
The Kats didn’t have a hit off of Demon starter Steven Spann through 7 1/3 innings. SHSU first baseman Ryan O’Hearn broke up the no-hit and shutout bids with his eighth home run of the season.
After scoring 10 runs and beating Lamar in the tournament opener, Sam Houston went a combined 1-for-18 with runners in scoring-position in the following two losses. The Kats had just four hits with runners on base in 31 chances.
“You talk about how hitting comes and goes and ours disappeared for two days,” head coach David Pierce said. “A big play late could have kept it a 2-1 game. So far this tournament hasn’t been very kind to us.”
The first run of the game came in when Simms hit his second batter of the second inning, designated hitter Nick Heath. Simms hit the first batter of the inning and gave up a single to left field. The bases were loaded up with no outs after a fielder’s choice on a sacrifice bunt.
Third baseman Carter Burgess bailed the Kats out with a nicely turned double play. He fielded a chopper and threw the runner out at home. Azar threw down to first to retire the hitter and complete the double play. Simms got an infield pop up to end the inning with just one run crossing the plate.
Shortstop Corey Toups worked a two-out walk and stole second to start something in the bottom of the second. Designated hitter Dirk Master walked and Burgess was hit by a pitch to load the bases with two outs. Second baseman Ryan Farney hit one hard into the gap in right-center but it held up for the Demon right fielder to make a running grab.
Dylan Ebbs worked a walk to lead off the sixth inning and was run for by Luke Plucheck. The pinch-running Plucheck advanced to second on a balk with nobody out. After a full-count strikeout of first baseman Ryan O’Hearn, the Demons intentionally walked the Southland Player of the Year, Anthony Azar.
The strategy paid off as right fielder Hayden Simerly and Toups each flied out.
The Bearkats got another runner in scoring position in the seventh inning when Burgess led off with a walk and stole second base.
A three-spot in the top of the eighth put the game basically out of reach.
The 2014 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship Selections will be revealed will be revealed in a live, one-hour telecast on ESPNU at 11 a.m., Monday, May 26. The 16 regional hosts will be announced at approximately 8 p.m., Sunday, May 25.
“We hope the committee has seen that we’ve done a lot,” Carter Burgess said. “The regular season title is going to help us out. Our resume is pretty good right now. I’m confident. We’ll just have to wait and see until Monday.”