HUNTSVILLE – Sam Houston State seems to find its comfort zone when falling behind early. That proved to be the case again Wednesday night against DBU.
The Bearkats spotted the Patriots three first-inning runs before storming back for six in the second in route to their fifth-straight midweek victory, defeating DBU, 7-5 at Don Sanders Stadium.
Sam Houston (32-17) moved to 11-4 on the season when opponents score in the first inning, doing so by stranding just one runner through the first seven innings. The Kats worked their way around 13 DBU (30-18) hits, thanks to some strong relief work from Seth Ballew.
The left-hander scattered seven hits while allowing two runs, both coming on a two-run homer, in 5 1-3 innings. Ballew also fanned three and walked one, moving to 5-3 on the season.
Nick Mikolajchak closed it out, recording his ninth save of the season, moving into a three-way tie in fourth for saves in a season in Bearkat lore. The freshman permitted just one hit, a leadoff single in the ninth, over the final two innings, using 34 pitches to lower his season ERA to 3.32.
HOW IT HAPPENED
DBU sent eight hitters to the plate in the first, tagging Sam Houston starter Colin Cameron for three hits. The Patriots scored all three runs with two outs including a two-run double into left center from Camden Duzenack, who came home to score one hitter later on a strikeout wild pitch for a 3-0 lead.
The Bearkats answered the bell in the second, matching their second-highest run total for an inning, scoring six runs on four hits while loading the bases twice. Blake Chisolm plated Clayton Harp on a bases-loaded, no-out single into right and Hunter Hearn followed, sending a sacrifice fly to center.
With reliever Gavin Fritz on to pitch, the Bearkats called on Taylor Beene to execute the suicide squeeze bunt. The senior did so, placing the ball back to the pitcher as Blake Chisolm scored. Riley McKnight, who was on second, raced around third and headed for home, sliding in to put the Kats ahead 5-3.
With Lance Miles at the plate, Johnson came home to score on a wild pitch, the sixth run of the frame. It also marked the most runs scored in the second for the Bearkats this season and was the 24th time Sam Houston had scored four or more in an inning this year.
Ballew entered to pitch the second for Sam Houston and held the Patriots in check over the course of the next five innings. The left-hander put runners aboard in each inning between the second and fourth but escape trouble each time including a runners-on-first-and-second, no-out jam in the third and runners on the corners with two down in the fourth.
Sam Houston tacked on another in the fifth. Beene led off with a walk and with the hit and run on, Miles tagged a double into right center, putting the pair in scoring positon. Harp followed, sending a sacrifice fly to the warning track in left for a 7-3 lead.
The Patriots broke through in the seventh, trimming the deficit to two as Austin Listi belted a towering two-run home run over the wall in left center. His 16th homer of the season came with one down and plated Devlin Gransberg, who reached on a one-out single.
Sam Houston returns to Southland Conference action, visiting Houston Baptist for three games beginning Friday at 2 p.m. The Bearkats enter the weekend second in the league standings, trailing conference-leader McNeese by 2 1/2 games. Sam Houston has six conference contests left while the Cowboys, who are away from league play this weekend, have three remaining against Lamar in two weekends.
Head coach Matt Deggs on the victory…
“I thought we did a great job of coming out and playing our game. We never really got unsettled after the first. That ballclub over there is one of the best hitting teams in the country. They can really teach hitting. We knew going in we'd have to fill up the strikezone. We were able to come back and impose our will a little bit in the second. I thought the name of the game was how we attacked the strikezone.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the performance of Seth Ballew…
“Seth came in and pitched like he is capable. We have been waiting to see that performance. Against a quality ballclub like DBU, that was a gigantic performance for us.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the six-run second inning…
“We were able to spin the game a little bit and make some stuff happen on the bases. We came up with a couple big hits. They helped us create a little bit. We were able to scratch across a run late, as well, which was big.”
Seth Ballew on his 5 1-3 innings and victory…
“Coach (Jay) Sirianni told us it would be by committee tonight. He told me before the game to be down there in the pen ready to go. I was ready to come in. I didn't know how long I'd be in. I was focused on doing my job and putting up zeroes. I just wanted to give my team a chance to win.”
Taylor Beene on the suicide squeeze bunt that plated a pair…
“We were just feeding off each other. I was just feeding off them. They provided a lot of energy for me. Coach Deggs tells me to walk through the squeeze plays because sometimes you may run away from it. I was just trying to get it down so we could score one. I didn't even think that second one would come across until I went to touch first and I saw they threw it home. That was a great play and call.”