HUNTSVILLE – Sam Houston State mashed five home runs, matching a program record, defeating Nicholls 11-2 to secure the series sweep on Sunday afternoon in front of 1,043 spectators at Don Sanders Stadium.
The five homers marked the third time the feat had been accomplished and first since April 15, 2008 against Texas Southern. It was also the most for a Sam Houston team in Southland Conference play, surpassing the previous best of four, which came Feb. 23, 2008 against Lamar.
Lance Miles delivered a grand slam as part of a six-run sixth, the first since Andrew Fregia did so a season ago, also against Nicholls. Fregia continued his tear against the Colonels, leading off the scoring with a no-doubt solo homer in the first off the storage shed beyond the left field wall.
Sam Houston produced three-straight leadoff homers between the third and fifth innings. Taylor Beene added his second homer of the season in the third, followed by Robie Rojas’s second dinger in the fourth and Hunter Hearn’s second long ball in the fifth.
The victory continued the best Southland start in program history, moving the Bearkats to 23-9 overall and 12-0 in league action. Making his first weekend start of the season, Dakota Mills (4-2) picked up the win, tossing five innings while allowing five hits and a pair of runs. For the second time in three outings, the right-hander matched a season-best with six strikeouts.
The Bearkats, who have played 26 of their first 32 games at home, begin a season-long nine-game road trip on Tuesday at Baylor. The squad returns to league action beginning Thursday with a 3 p.m. tilt at Stephen F. Austin.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Sam Houston jumped out to a 2-0 lead but the Colonels responded with a pair to tie it in the fourth. Cleanup hitter Gage Teer deposited over the left field wall and Gavin Wehby followed with a triple before coming home to score on a groundout to short.
The Kats jumped back on top on the Rojas homer in the fourth and broke things open in the fifth. After Hearn’s leadoff shot, Blake Chisolm singled into left, chasing starter Mike Hanchar (3-3) from the game. Rojas drove a single up the middle and Jaxxon Grisham, making his 11th start, reached on a fielder’s choice.
With the bases juiced, Miles belted a 1-2 pitch over the wall in left for his first-career grand slam. The homer was his second career and first since taking Stephen F. Austin deep in the Southland Conference Tournament a season ago.
Chisolm led off the sixth with a single into right and Rojas moved the junior to third on a double down the left field line. After a groundout to third, Chisolm came home to score on a wild pitch. Miles picked up his fifth RBI of the game, driving home Rojas with a sacrifice fly to center and an 11-2 lead.
MORE FROM THE WEEKEND…
Sam Houston hit .367 as a team during the three-game set, marking the sixth-straight weekend series hitting above .300. Robie Rojas, who entered .553 in Southland Conference games, finished the three games a blazing 9-for-13 (.692), leading the team with six runs and 15 total bases.
Andrew Fregia tallied six hits in 13 at-bats (.462) including a pair of doubles, a triple and homer. The third baseman also made a pair of over-the-shoulder running grabs in foul ground and was part of a pair of the four double plays turned on the weekend.
Sunday’s finale marked the 90th overall meeting against Nicholls. The Bearkats have notched sweeps of the Colonels in consecutive years and improved to 30-17 in Huntsville against the league foe. Saturday marked the 100th-consecutive start for outfielder Bryce Johnson and Sunday’s victory was the 96th career for head coach Matt Deggs as he inches closer to 100.
Head coach Matt Deggs on the five home run afternoon…
“We’re capable of that. We see it a lot in practice. It hasn’t shown up for us a lot in games. It was a product of us having a great approach and really hunting the big part of the ballpark today and getting our swings off on time. It kind of gets contagious. It was good to see.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on moving to 12-0 in the Southland Conference…
“It’s a fun ride. There is a lot that goes into it. It doesn’t just happen. Everyone wants a piece of you so you’re going to get everyone’s best shot. It’s something these kids take a lot of pride right now, riding that wave and keeping this thing going.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the strong defensive afternoon and start from Dakota Mills…
“The defense was outstanding. I think we turned two or three double plays that were big each time. I thought the story was Dakota Mills going back out for his second start of the week. He gets banged around pretty good at Texas. We thought it was important to get him back out there on the back end of this thing with a chance to sweep. He got us off to a great start.”
Starting pitcher Dakota Mills on his outing…
“Nicholls is a great team. I just wanted to come in and fill up the zone. I had a little hiccup Tuesday but this was a chance to respond. We always have a great defense behind us so I wanted to use them. This team is my family. We have to play humbly and be ready to play every time out.”
Second baseman Lance Miles on his grand slam…
“We had been hitting the ball well all weekend against some really good pitching. Today, we had our direction going and some balls got out of the yard. They kept throwing me off-speed. I was putting some good swings on it but wasn’t doing what I wanted to. I finally did on the one that got out of here.”