NACOGDOCHES – Sam Houston State trimmed an early deficit to one run on a pair of occasions. Any hope of completing the comeback dissipated as things unraveled in the seventh.
Stephen F. Austin scored six runs in the frame, ending Sam Houston’s 13-consecutive Southland Conference series win streak with a 12-2 eight-inning victory on Saturday afternoon at Jaycees Field.
A total of nine Sam Houston pitchers were taxed for a season-high 17 hits as the Lumberjacks (22-16, 11-4 Southland) rallied to take the series after dropping Thursday’s opener. The Bearkats (25-11, 13-2 SLC) were limited to six runs in the three games, their lowest output during a series this season.
The squad looks to turn things around on Tuesday, taking on No. 23 Houston at Constellation Field in Sugar Land. The 7 p.m. matchup will be the first of three games against the Cougars over the next three weeks to decide the inaugural Sanders Cup.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Stephen F. Austin got the scoring started in the second as five-hole hitter Josh Evans deposited a ball over the wall in right for his team-leading seventh home run of the season.
The Lumberjacks tacked on another in the third, using a leadoff walk to nine-hole hitter Josh Campbell, one-out single from Nick Ramos and Conner Fikes sacrifice fly, upping the lead to 2-0.
Sam Houston found a way overcome a double play in the fifth to scratch a run across. Jaxxon Grisham sent his second pitch into center for a two-out single and came around to score as Lance Miles rocketed his 10th double of the season down the left field line, trimming the deficit to 2-1.
The Bearkats threatened for more as Taylor Beene was plunked by the pitch. Then, a wild pitch with Bryce Johnson at the plate moved both runners into scoring position. The pair would be stranded there, however, on a fly out to center field.
The ‘Jacks pushed another across in the fifth, following up consecutive singles from Ramos and Fikes with a pair of full-count walks from relievers Hayden Wesneski and Dominic Robinson. The ‘Jacks threatened again in the sixth, loading the bases with one out to chase Robinson from the game.
With Colin Cameron entering, the right-handed induced a pop up to shallow center. Then, leadoff hitter Tyler Kendrick put a drive into the ball, sending one to the warning track in right center but Johnson came over, making the running grab to strand them loaded.
Rojas led off the seventh with a double into right center and Hunter Hearn drew a four-pitch walk to put runners on first and second with no outs. Miles continued his big day, driving a single through the left side to load the bases with one out. Then, Beene worked a full-count walk, trimming the deficit to one run for the second time at 3-2.
Johnson hit a chopper to second as the Lumberjacks were able to turn the double play, grabbing the call at first on a bang-bang play. SFA turned the momentum into more offensive production in the bottom half, cashing in on back-to-back singles as Alex Hrinevich belted a three-run home run to left.
The ‘Jacks added three more runs in the frame, using four singles and a pair of Sam Houston errors to put a six-spot up in the frame, the highest scoring inning by an opponent this season.
SFA sent seven hitters to the plate in the eighth, taking advantage of a hit by pitch and three walks to plate two runs, marking the first time Sam Houston had been run-ruled since April 18, 2014 at Lamar.
Head coach Matt Deggs on dropping the series finale…
“It was a great game for 6 ½ innings. It was a 3-2 ballgame going into the bottom of the seventh. You play this game long enough and you see games like that. It kind of spun out of control and got away from us. This game is a very humbling game. You come in here winning 13-straight Southland series and you drop a series. You can lose 12-2 or 2-1, either way it goes as a loss. We’ve got to make some adjustments and continue to get better. We’ll be back.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the difference in the series…
“We left a lot of guys on base. We gave out a lot of free stuff which just isn’t characteristic of us. Let’s tip our cap to SFA. They played extremely well all three games. They were ready to play and got after it. We weren’t able to finish innings defensively and that’s just not who we are. You play this game long enough and you’ll go through games like this. It’s a very humbling game. There are two kinds of people, those who are humble and those who are about to be. We’ll handle this the right way and continue to move forward.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on playing Houston on Tuesday night…
“That’s the great thing about baseball is we’re playing again on Tuesday night against a great opponent in U of H down in Sugar Land. It’s going to be a great venue and it ought to be a great night. We’ve played there a ton. It’s a great opportunity for us to play U of H down there.”