BEAUMONT – Gabriel Sequeira pitched seven brilliant innings and Hunter Hearn drove in four runs as the Sam Houston State Bearkats completed a three-game sweep of Lamar on Sunday afternoon with an 8-1 win at Vincent-Beck Stadium.
Sequeira, making his second start of the week and his first career start in Southland play, moved to 2-0 on the season and threw just 71 pitches in pitching into the eighth inning for the Kats (12-4, 3-0 SLC). He struck out two and allowed one walk in addition to being the benefactor of three of Sam’s four double-plays turned to help negate nine scattered singles by the Lamar (4-13, 0-3 SLC) offense.
Meanwhile, Hearn had the big hit of a six-run fifth inning that blew the game open with a three-run double with two down in the frame. He would finish the day 3-for-4 with four RBI, while Chase Cryer and Clayton Harp would each add a pair of singles on a day that saw the Kats pound out 11 hits as a team.
Sam Houston took an early lead in the fourth on an RBI single by Hearn, but then scored six times with two down in the fifth to take control, which was more than enough for Sequeira and reliever Nick Mikolajchak who tossed the final two frames.
Jason Blanchard fell to 0-2 for the Cardinals after getting touched up for three runs in 4.1 innings.
Sam Houston will head to Waco on Tuesday for a midweek clash with Baylor, starting at 6:35 p.m. at Baylor Ballpark. The Kats will then continue Southland Conference play on the road when they head to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, beginning Friday at 6 p.m. at Chapman Field.
Singles from Cole Whetsel and Chase Kemp gave the Cardinals their first threat against Sequeira in the Cardinal half of the second. Lamar then tried to squeeze home the game’s first run, but Bearkat first baseman Ben Haefner read the play all the way and fielded Chad McKinney’s bunt on one hop and easily got Whetsel out at the plate to prevent the run from scoring. One batter later Sequeira got Grant Devore to fly out harmlessly to center field, stranding a pair of Lamar runners.
Sam Houston scratched across a run in the fourth to take the lead, taking advantage of a leadoff double from Trey Ochoa. A failed pickoff attempt moved him up to third base before Blanchard got a key strikeout of Andrew Fregia for the first out. But Hearn got the job done, tugging an 0-2 pitch into left field to score Ochoa and get the Kats out in front 1-0.
An inning later the Bearkats blew it open, plating six runs on four hits to open up a 7-0 lead. Singles by Cryer and Harp opened the inning and were followed by a sacrifice bunt from Jordan Cannon. Cardinal reliever Tanner Driskill then entered and got a strikeout of Jack Rogers for the inning’s second out, but then could not find the strike zone, hitting Blake Chisolm before issuing consecutive walks to both Ochoa and Fregia to bring in a pair of runs. Hearn then delivered a three-run double into right-center field to open the lead up to 6-0 before the second Cardinal error of the day one batter later allowed him to score.
Lamar finally got to Sequeira in the fifth, but the Bearkat starter was able to minimize the damage. One-out singles from Devore and Philip Ingram put runners on first and second, setting up Cole Secrest who shot a first-pitch single back up the middle to score Devore and cut the lead to 7-1. The Cardinals, however, could not muster any more than that as Sequeira coaxed a first-pitch double play from Robin Adames to end the inning.
Sequeira ended up using three straight inning-ending double plays to get through the seventh and Cannon added on another run to the Bearkat tally in the eighth, taking reliever Jack Dallas deep to center field for his second solo home run in as many days to up the lead to 8-1.
Coach Matt Deggs on the series sweep and Sunday’s win …
“I thought all three days, pitching just set an incredible tone for us. The way you stop momentum is with really good pitching, and I thought we got three really good starts and got a great effort out of the bullpen. And then Gabe Sequeira, here is a guy who started the year off a little bit slow last year. But he really personifies the fact that if you work while you wait, and you just keep showing up and working that great things are going to happen. You’re seeing that play out in Gabe Sequeira right now. He gave us an incredible start.”
Deggs on Sequeira’s start …
“He had two pitches that he could locate at any time and did a great job fielding his position and only walked one guy. He didn’t give them anything, we played lockdown defense and turned four double plays and then we were able to have some great, competitive at-bats again.”
Deggs on the big fifth inning …
“They’ve got some good arms over there, but we have been close all weekend. I was kind of expecting it today, especially with the conditions, that it was just a matter of time. We were able to string some great at-bats together and then Hunter finally came through with the big blow.”
Gabriel Sequeira on his start …
“It all starts with the guys behind me, turning that many double plays. They know I’m going to fill up the strike zone and keep everything low in the zone. They were being very aggressive. Lamar is a very good hitting team and they were really trying to get on top of my first-pitch fastballs, and fortunately I was able to get a bunch of ground balls and fly balls and stay ahead in the count. That was all I really needed to do.”
Sequeira on making his first conference start …
“It’s a huge confidence boost. Everything that I’ve done with all my coaches’ help has been to prepare me for something like this.” Sequeira on the comfort of being staked to a 7-0 lead … “It definitely took a lot of pressure off. Every time we would score Hunter (Hearn) would come up to me and tell me to keep pounding the zone. The same was with (Jordan) Cannon, to just keep pounding the zone and doing what I was doing.”