SUGAR LAND – The top-seeded Sam Houston State Bearkats scored four early runs and withstood a nearly two-hour rain delay in eliminating No. 5 Central Arkansas from the Southland Conference Tournament on Thursday afternoon at Constellation Field.
Sam Houston (39-19) had five of its seven hits in the game in the opening frame, scoring four times, which was just enough for starter Hayden Wesneski and stopper Dakota Mills to keep the Bearkats alive in the double-elimination tournament.
They will now await the loser of the nightcap between No. 4 Houston Baptist and No. 8 New Orleans in another elimination game scheduled for noon on Friday.
Wesneski was brilliant in his 7.0 innings, not walking a batter and scattering six hits to move to 7-3 on the season. He needed just 74 pitches to get there before the skies opened up at the conclusion of the seventh inning and delayed the game for nearly two hours. Mills then entered and retired all six hitters he faced after the delay to secure the win and his 15th save of the year.
All of the Bearkats’ damage came in the first inning against UCA (32-25) starter Cody Davenport, who rebounded nicely to retire 16 of the final 18 hitters he faced before the delay. He finished with four strikeouts and allowed just one hit in his final six frames.
It took little time for the Bearkats to stake Wesneski to a lead, jumping on Davenport for four runs in the opening inning. Sam Houston sent all nine hitters to the plate in the first and recording five singles in the frame. A sac fly from Harp opened the scoring before three straight singles by Hearn, Haefner and Johnson gave the Kats a 4-0 lead before Wesneski ever took the hill.
UCA manufactured a run in the third on a single by Keaton Presley and could have had more if not for a highlight catch to end the inning by Jaxxon Grisham that robbed Josh Somdercerff of extra bases. Two innings later they cut into the inning even further on an RBI grounder by Hunter Strong.
"Our plan is to go to Omaha and it starts with winning this tournament." Today's winning pitcher @HWEZ02, who improved to 7-3 on the season, talks about today's outing for @BearkatsBSB pic.twitter.com/7EFBLbOuhP— BearkatSportsNetwork (@BearkatVid) May 24, 2018