HUNTSVILLE – Some things never seem to get to be old hat, and for the Sam Houston State Bearkats of 2019, walk-off wins never seem to be any less exciting.
Jordan Cannon gave the Bearkats their seventh walk-off win of the season on Tuesday with an RBI double in the bottom of the ninth inning, capping an eight-run comeback to take down Florida Atlantic at Don Sanders Stadium.
The Kats (27-19) trailed 8-0 to the Owls (32-18) entering the bottom of the third inning, but got stellar relief work from Cole Wesneski, allowing the offense to chip away to the tune of 11 unanswered runs before final getting the final dagger in the ninth.
The two-bagger, which scored Riley McKnight from first base, capped a huge night for Cannon who finished the evening 4-for-6 with a triple, double, three RBI, two runs scored and a pair of stolen bases. The final hit was the 18th of the game for the Kats, tying the team’s season high on a night that saw them reach double figures in scoring for the third straight game.
Every Bearkat starter in the lineup had at least one hit with eight different hitters picking up at least one RBI. Colton Cowser had a triple, three hits and a pair of RBI while Diego Davila, Gavin Johnson, Jack Rogers and Jackson Loftin all had two hits each.
Wesneski was brilliant in relief, entering in the fourth inning for starter Matt Dillard and tossing 3.2 scoreless innings before an inherited runner came in to score in on a game-tying, three-run homer by Joe Montes in the top of the eighth to snap a streak of 11 unanswered runs by the Bearkat offense.
Brad Demco picked up the win to move to 2-1 on the year, entering in a 1-2 count in the ninth inning to finish off a strikeout of Pedro Pages before punching out Wilfredo Alvarez with the go-ahead runner standing on second base.
FAU reliever Zach Schneider fell to 3-3 with the loss, walking each of the first two hitters he faced before surrendering the game-winning double to Cannon.
The Owls came out on fire, scoring twice in the first inning and three more times in both the second and third innings to stake starter Hunter Cooley to a comfortable early 8-0 lead.
But in the bottom of the third, the Bearkat offense got going in a very loud way. Singles by Loftin and McKnight opened the inning and Cannon followed with a two-run triple to get the Kats on the board before Cowser made it a three-run frame with an RBI single.
Rogers and Loftin each picked up RBI in the fourth to trim the lead to 8-5 and one inning later a double by Davila and a single by Clayton Harp quickly had the lead down to 8-7. A wild pitch later in the inning by FAU reliever Dylan O’Connell tied the game up, then after another scoreless frame by Wesneski, Cowser gave the Kats the lead with an RBI single to score Cannon in the home half of the sixth.
Hunter Hearn and Gavin Johnson each added RBI singles to push the lead to 11-8 and Wesneski followed with another zero on the board. The lead looked safe heading into the eighth, but a leadoff single by Alvarez and a walk to Eric Rivera brought the tying run to the plate and Montes took advantage by crushing his sixth homer of the year to retie the game at 11-11.
FAU threatened to retake the lead in the top of the ninth after Mitchell Hartigan led off with a walk and moved to second base on a grounder, getting into scoring position for Pages. Bearkat reliever Cody Wolf worked the count to 1-2 on the Owl catcher before the Kats made a move with a 1-2 count, bringing in Demco who finished him off with one more pitch. He then punched out Alvarez, who had reached base in each of his previous four at-bats to keep the game tied.
The Owls went to their stopper, Schneider, for the ninth; however, after the Bearkat leadoff man was picked off, he issued a second straight walk to McKnight to bring up Cannon. The senior then one-hopped the left-center field wall for a double on the first pitch he saw, scoring McKnight with the winning run.
The Kats will now head to Hammond, La., for a crucial three-game series with Southeastern Louisiana at Pat Kennelly Diamond. The Kats and Lions are each tied atop the Southland Conference standings with just two weekends remaining in the league slate. First pitch of the series opener is set for Friday at 6:00 p.m.