HUNTSVILLE – Sam Houston State had its opportunities on the base paths against No. 10 Baylor but when the Bears cashed in, the Bearkats could not.
Sam Houston stranded 12 runners on base, falling 6-5 to Baylor on Tuesday night at Don Sanders Stadium. The loss snapped a six-game win streak as the Bearkats will seek to get momentum back on their side, entering Friday’s Southland Conference opener against Lamar.
The Bearkats (8-5) trailed twice, roaring back each time including scoring three runs in the sixth to tie the game at five. Five of Baylor’s (12-1) six runs came with two outs. The Bearkats stranded nine runners in scoring position, included the bases loaded twice, during the final five frames.
Sam Houston starter Dakota Mills tossed 5 2-3 innings, permitting eight hits and five runs (four earned) while striking out two and walking as many. Left-handed freshman reliever Gabriel Sequeira (0-1) was saddled with the loss, allowing a hit, walk and run in relief.
Baylor reliever Kyle Ott took his first win, holding the Kats off the board for 1 1-3 innings, with a hit, walk and strikeout. After getting to Baylor closer Troy Montemayor in the ninth a season ago in Waco for a comeback victory, the right-handed junior earned the save this go-round, tossing the final 1 1-3 innings, including inducing a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded in the eighth.
Andrew Fregia and Bryce Johnson each recorded a pair of hits and a run scored. Robie Rojas picked up a pair of sac-fly RBIs and showcased the leather, making a turnaround throw to first on a bunt and a lunging grab in foul territory for the first two outs of the eighth.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Sam Houston kept Baylor off the board the first two frames but an error turned costly in the third. After Richard Cunningham drew a full-count walk, the two-hole hitter advanced to second on an errant pickoff attempt and came home to score on a two-out RBI single from Matt Menard.
The Bearkats responded in the fourth, taking a 2-1 lead on a pair of hits. Johnson was plunked on a 1-2 pitch to lead off the frame and took second as Riley McKnight squared to bunt on a full-count, placing the dribbler down the third base line to reach.
Fregia singled through the left side, loading the bases with one out for Blake Chisolm, who was drilled by his first of two pitches on the game. Rojas followed, taking a sacrifice fly to left field, plating McKnight for the one-run advantage.
Mills set down the first two Baylor hitters on as many pitches but Menard added his second single and Kameron Esthay deposited his second home run of the season over the right-field wall for a 3-2 lead.
Hunter Hearn reached on a one-out walk in the fifth, advancing to third as Johnson matched a team-best with his fourth double of the season, lining one down the left field line. The Kats stranded the pair in scoring position, however, as McKnight grounded out to the shortstop.
The Bears pushed their lead to three in the sixth, doing their damage with two outs once again as Shea Langeliers drove a single into left field, scoring a pair of runners on reliever Gabriel Sequeira, who entered in relief with two down in the frame.
Sam Houston answered in a big way during the bottom half, loading the bases with no outs on singles from Miles and Fregia followed by a four-pitch walk to Chisolm. Rojas added his second sac fly of the game, trimming the deficit to two.
Clayton Harp drove an RBI single into left, leading to a Bears pitching change. After a strikeout from Ott, Johnson was plunked by the pitch, tying the game at 5-all.
Baylor re-took the lead in the seventh, helped by a hit by pitch and pair of walks but the Bearkats avoided further damage. With Steven McLean at-bat and the bases loaded, the leadoff hitter lined a ball right at Fregia, who stepped on the bag for the double play.
Sam Houston reliever Kyle Backhus kept the Bears off the bases in the final two innings. In the bottom half of the ninth, Chisolm hit a leadoff blooper into shallow center for a single but pinch runner Austin Adams was thrown out as Rojas reached on the fielder’s choice. The senior swiped second but would be stranded there.
Sam Houston turns its attention to Southland Conference play this weekend, opening the 30-game league slate at home against Lamar. Friday’s first pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. while Saturday’s middle game is slated for 3 p.m. and Sunday’s finale takes place at 1 p.m.
Head coach Matt Deggs on the midweek loss…
“That’s a tough one. I hate to see that one get away. I thought we had our opportunities tonight, we just didn’t capitalize. We strand 12 runners, walk four and hit another three. I thought they were very opportunistic with what we gave them. They had a bunch of two-out knocks. That was the difference in the ballgame.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on playing the highly-ranked Bears…
“We were given a golden opportunity tonight to play a team with a third-ranked RPI in the country. We had them on the ropes. We didn’t play our best but we played pretty good baseball tonight. We were just a big hit away. We have to do a better job capitalizing, especially with two outs.”
Third baseman Andrew Fregia on the difference in the game…
“I think the difference in this one was not coming up big with two outs. Most of their RBIs came with two outs and runners in scoring position. We knew coming in, they were going to be good. They have some big arms. We left a lot of traffic on base. That says something even though it’s not what we wanted.”
Center fielder Bryce Johnson on turning the page towards the Southland opener…
“It was a tough loss. Dakota pitched his heart out. I have to give him credit. We have to come out tomorrow and have a good day of practice. We have to flush it and come back tomorrow ready to go.”