BEAUMONT – Trey Ochoa drove in three runs to lead an 11-hit attack by the Sam Houston State Bearkats in a 5-2 win over Lamar on Saturday afternoon in the middle game of its weekend series at Vincent-Beck Stadium.
Ochoa finished the day 3-for-5 with three RBI, including a pair with two outs, to pace the Kats (11-4, 2-0 SLC) who scored single runs in five separate innings. That was more than enough for the Sam Houston pitching staff who scattered 10 Lamar (4-12, 0-2 SLC) singles over the course of the day, punching out 10 while allowing just one walk.
Riley Gossett punched out five in 5.0 scoreless innings for his second win of the season, while Dakota Mills retired all seven hitters he faced – four on strikes – in the final 2.2 innings to earn his first save of the season.
The effort handed Lamar starter Noah Sills his first loss of the year in four starts, despite a solid day that saw him allow just three runs – two earned – with five strikeouts in 5.2 innings. Robin Adames had three hits for the Cardinals, while Cole Coker and Philip Ingram had two each.
The Bearkats will go for a sweep of the Cardinals to open up Southland Conference play on Sunday. First pitch is set for 1:00 p.m. from Vincent-Beck Stadium.
Sam left a runner stranded in each of the first two innings, but finally broke through in the top of the third. Mac Odom got it all started by beating out his fifth bunt single of the year to lead off and moved up 90 feet twice on a hit batter and a sacrifice bunt from Darien Simms. Ochoa then got Sam on the board with a grounder to shortstop that brought Odom home.
Gossett got a key strikeout of Logan Lejeune to leave two Cardinals stranded in scoring position in the fourth and an inning later the Kats added on to their lead. Singles from Simms and Ochoa set up Fregia, who shot a single back up the middle to bring in Simms and make it 2-0. Sam Houston would load the bases with just one away after a walk to Hunter Hearn, but Sills minimized the damage by getting pop outs from both Cannon and Harp.
A two-out rally got another across for the Kats in the sixth, an inning that got going with a two-out walk to Jaxxon Grisham. The inning looked to be over on a grounder from Simms to second baseman Coker, but an error kept the inning going and prompted LU to go to right-hander Chet Jones out of the pen. Ochoa then greeted him with a sure single to center field, scoring Grisham to give the Kats a 3-0 lead.
The Kats went to Seth Ballew out of the pen to start the sixth and the Cardinals wasted no time putting pressure on him as Adames and Coker each singled to open the inning. Two batters later Lejeune plated the first Cardinal run with an infield single and Chad Fleischman followed that up by bringing in Coker with a sacrifice fly that trimmed the lead to 3-2.
Jones came back out for the seventh and looked to have a clean inning on his plate, getting the first two hitters he faced before running the count to 0-2 on Cannon. But the Bearkat catcher got a pitch he liked on 0-2 and hooked a fly ball just inside the left-field pole for his second homer, a solo shot that pushed the Bearkat lead back to 4-2.
Ochoa added to his big day with another RBI in the eighth, pushing the Bearkat lead to 5-2. After a leadoff single from pinch hitter Ben Haefner and a sacrifice bunt by Simms, Ochoa roped a pitch from Cardinal reliever Grason Wright into the left-field corner for an RBI double that scored pinch runner Eric Bohnert, his third hit and third RBI of the afternoon.
Coach Matt Deggs on the win …
“I thought we played rock-solid baseball again today. Yesterday’s performance was as well as we had played it all year from pitching efficiently, from dominating routine plays to coming up with big hits and having tenacious at-bats. We came out and followed that up again today. (Riley) Gossett came out and gave us a big start, then we were able to get it to (Seth) Ballew and Dakota (Mills) there to finish the thing off.”
Deggs on the offensive performance …
“We faced a really good arm today. He had not given up an earned run all year and the wind was blowing in our face all day. I thought we did a good job of playing our faster lineup, our lightning lineup, and we were able to spin the game at times. We just have to be able to punch in that big hit at the right time. Trey Ochoa did a great job with two two-out RBI today to give us a little bit of cushion, but it was a collective team effort. We just played our game, and that’s our game to a T.”
Deggs on the offense scratching across five single-run innings …
“It’s hard to score out here. There’s a wind in your face and this ballpark can play spacious when the wind blows in. Now, tomorrow it’s probably going to come back around, so we will see what happens.”
Deggs on Dakota Mills’ relief performance …
“That’s as good as I’ve ever seen him. That was great attack, strike after strike. Getting ahead of hitters and then able to finish with the slider.”