FRISCO – The Sam Houston State Bearkats gave up three late runs to No. 12 Mississippi State as the Bulldogs escaped Dr Pepper Ballpark with a 5-4 win on Friday in the opener of the Frisco Classic.
The Kats (5-3) out-hit the Bulldogs (9-1) in the game and led 4-2 going into the bottom of the seventh after a two-run triple by Hunter Hearn, but MSU answered with two in the bottom half of the inning and then scored an unearned run in the bottom of the eighth to go ahead for good.
SHSU had a chance to get the run back in the ninth when Jack Rogers singled with one away, but MSU reliever Cole Gordon got Riley McKnight to fly out before picking off pinch runner Darien Simms from first base to collect his second save of the year.
Hayden Wesneski went pitch-for-pitch with all-SEC lefty Ethan Small, punching out six hitters without a walk in 7.0 innings before taking a no decision. Riley Gossett was the losing pitcher in relief, allowing a run on one hit in the eighth before Steven Beard and Cole Wesneski came in to close out the inning.
Trysten Barlow was the winning pitcher for the Bulldogs, despite pitching just 0.1 inning after the Kats had taken the lead off of reliever Jared Liebelt in the seventh. That followed a strong outing by Small who struck out six in 6.0 innings.
For Sam Houston, Colton Cowser continued his hot start to the season with a 2-for-4 night that included a double, while Jordan Cannon delivered three of the Kats’ 11 hits from the designated hitter spot. In all, seven Kats had hits with Hearn driving in a pair and both Eric Bohnert and Clayton Harp picking up an RBI each.
All of the Bearkats’ runs in the game came with two outs.
Sam Houston will be right back at it on Saturday when it takes on Nebraska. The game is set for a noon pitch and will be aired on FloSports and on 90.5 FM in Huntsville.
The Kats had a golden chance to give itself an early lead in the third as a single from Bohnert opened the inning the Bulldogs followed by botching a sacrifice bunt attempt by Kyle Moos to put the first two runners on base. Sam Houston could not bunt the runners up, but eventually loaded the bases with two away when Riley McKnight was hit by a pitch; however, Small was able to get Cowser to fly out to deep center field to end the threat.
Wesneski had four strikeouts in the first three innings, but the Bulldogs were finally able to get to him in the bottom of the fourth. Tanner Allen got it going by singling to right field on the first pitch he saw, then two pitches later Elijah MacNamee doubled into the left-center field gap to bring Allen all the way home from first. Foscue followed by bounding a single over the head of Cowser at third to plate a second run before Wesneski retired each of the next three hitters.
Things would be quiet in the fifth, but the Bearkats were able to get something going in the sixth, tying the game up with a pair of two-out runs. Cowser ignited the rally with an opposite-field double and eventually came home two batters later when Harplined a single to right field. Cannon and Bohnert each followed with singles, the second scoring Harp from third base to square the game up at 2-2.
Another two-out rally for the Kats surged the Bearkats ahead one inning later against reliever Jared Liebelt. It looked like an easy inning for the MSU relief man, but an error by Bulldog second baseman Gunner Halter put McKnight on base and extended the frame. A single by Cowser pushed him up a bag and one batter later Hunter Hearn tripled to the wall in right-center field to score both and put the Kats up 4-2.
Mississippi State answered back immediately with two of their own in the bottom half to tie it back up. Hayden Jones ignited the rally with a one-out double and after a single by Halter, Jake Mangum delivered an RBI single that made it a 4-3 game. Two batters later Tanner Allen delivered a sacrifice fly, tying it up 4-4.
The Kats left one on in the top of the eighth and Mississippi State wasted little time going in front, needing just two batters into the bottom of the inning to do so. Foscue greeted Gossett by roping the first pitch of the inning into the left-field corner for a double and one batter later the Kats committed their second error of the game, this one off the bat of Dustin Skelton that allowed Foscue to come around with what proved to be the winning run.