BEAUMONT – The Sam Houston State Bearkats got Southland Conference play started on the right foot with a hard-fought 3-1 victory over the Lamar Cardinals Friday night at Vincent-Beck Stadium.
The Kats (10-4) finished with only five hits on the day compared to the Cardinals (4-11) seven, but Sam Houston took advantage of opportunities with an early run and a pair of runs late in the game for the win. Two of Sam Houston’s five hits went for extra bases as Andrew Fregia drilled a double down the left field line in the first and Chase Cryer hit a lead-off double in the ninth. The two would combine for all five of Sam's hits on the night.
Sam Houston scored only one earned run coming off a Ben Haefner sacrifice fly in the first to score Jaxxon Grisham while the other two Sam Houston runs came in unearned fashion virtue of two costly Cardinal errors. Fregia led all batters with three hits off of four at-bats while Cryer was the only other Bearkat with a hit as he went 2-for-4 on the night.
Hayden Wesneski pitched a gem for Sam Houston as it took him 84 pitches to go 7.0 innings allowing only one run off of seven hits while also fanning seven Cardinals, picking up his second win of the season. Kyle Backhus and Nick Mikolajchak also saw an inning apiece on the mound in the final two innings as neither gave up a hit with Mikolajchak tossing a perfect ninth for his second save of the season.
Jace Campbell picked up the loss for the Cardinals as he allowed one run in 6.0 innings of work while only allowing three Sam Houston hits.
The Bearkats will look to continue to start off their 2018 Southland on a good note as they will face Lamar two more times this weekend with Saturday’s first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m. and Sunday’s first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m.
KEY INNINGS Top 1st
Grisham drew a leadoff walk to start the inning for the Kats, two batters later Fregia drove a ball down the leftfield line to put runners on second and third for the Kats with one out. Haefner would push home the first run for the Kats with a sacrifice fly to deep center but the Kats couldn’t bring Fregia home as he was left stranded on the next Bearkat batter.
The Cardinals had one of their best chances to score in the bottom-half of the fifth which began with a Cole Secrest lead-off walk. Secrest would be thrown out for the first out of the inning, but would be quickly replaced by Logan Lejuene after he singled down the left field side. Lamar would get runners on the corners with two outs after Chad McKinney singled through the left field side, but Wesneski would fan the next Cardinal batter to keep the Kats ahead after five.
Lamar continued to put the pressure on Sam Houston in the home-half of the sixth as Cole Coker singled to short to drive in Chase Kemp who had made it all the way to third after a pair of Wesneski wild pitches. Wesneski stopped the bleeding as he forced the ensuing Cardinal batter to ground out, but the damage had already been done.
Trey Ochoa drew a lead-off walk to get things going for the Kats in the top of the eighth, Lamar would commit an untimely first error as a failed pick-off attempt would move Ochoa to second. Fregia would follow up with a beautifully executed bunt to put runners on the corners for Sam Houston with no outs. Two Batters later, Hunter Hearn would drive in the go-ahead run on the sac fly to center.
The Cardinals would get the potential game-tying run on base after Chase Whetsel drew a one-out walk, but Backhus would force the next Cardinal into a double play after a hard-hit liner to the Bearkat first baseman to end the frame
The Kats would add an insurance run in the final inning with Cryer eventually making it all the way around the bases after a double to lead-off the inning.