HOUSTON – The Sam Houston State Bearkats scored nine runs in the final two frames, including six in the ninth inning, to come away with a wild 14-9 win over Rice on Tuesday night at Reckling Park.
Sam Houston (21-7) trailed 8-5 going into the eighth inning but used a three-run homer by Jordan Cannon to tie it up in the eighth, then sent 12 hitters to the plate against four Rice (12-19) pitchers in the ninth to win at Reckling Park for the second consecutive season.
Cannon would finish with five RBI on the night, all coming in his final two at-bats, and was one of six Bearkats with multi-hit games. Meanwhile, the Owls totaled 18 hits on the night themselves – four apiece by Ford Proctor and Ryan Chandler – but could not find an answer to stop the Kats late in the game.
Rice took the lead for the first time in the fourth inning and scored in six of the nine frames in the game, but the Kats managed to tie it up twice before finally taking the lead for good on a balk in the ninth.
Kyle Backhus struck out three Owls in 1.1 innings of relief to move to 3-0 on the season out of the bullpen, while Jackson Parthasarathy was the losing pitcher, falling to 2-1 for Rice.
Trey Ochoa reached base five times on the night with three hits and two runs scored and Hunter Hearn drove in a pair of runs on two hits, including the game-tying RBI single in the ninth. Blake Chisolm and Andrew Fregia got together for back-to-back solo homers in the sixth and Eric Bohnert also had a pairof hits and two RBI.
The Bearkats will head south this weekend for a three-game series at Nicholls, beginning Friday night at 6 p.m. at Ray E. Didier Field.
Sam Houston was able to take advantage of a pair of Rice errors in the first inning to open up a 2-0 lead. Darien Simms reached first on an error to start the game and Ochoa followed with a single to left, setting up Hearn who pushed across the first run with a sacrifice fly off of Rice starter Kendal Jeffries. Ochoa then moved up to third on a steal and another error and Chisolm took advantage, picking up an RBI with a ground out to first base.
Rice got a run back on an RBI single from Trei Cruz with two outs in the bottom of the first, but the Kats answered right back in the top of the second. Bohnert picked up the RBI to push the lead back to 3-1, scoring Ben Haefner who had reached on a one-out single and moved to second on a wild pitch.
A sacrifice fly by Braden Comeaux in the third cut the lead back to 3-2 for the Owls and then it took little time for them to take their first lead of the game in the fourth. Andrew Dunlap singled off of Bearkat starter Seth Ballew to start the Rice inning and then Justin Collins connected on a two-run homer to left, his fifth of the year, to surge the Owls ahead 4-3.
The Kats turned to Hayden Wesneski out of the bullpen in the fifth, but the Owls came to the plate aggressively against him, starting with Comeaux who reached on an infield hit on the first pitch he saw. Cruz then smashed an RBI double to straightaway center field on the first pitch he saw to up the lead to 5-3. The Owls had a chance to add on more with one out, but Simms made a sparkling defensive play in left field, diving for a ball destined for extra bases by Bradley Gneiting before doubling Cruz off of second to end the frame.
The Kats quickly erased the two-run deficit, however, as Chisolm and Fregia connected on back-to-back homers to open up the sixth off of Rice reliever Willy Amador to even it right back up at 5-5.
Cruz delivered another big hit in the Rice half of the sixth, capping a three-run inning with his third RBI hit of the night to put the Owls back in front. Each of the first two Owls reached base to start the inning, then after Riley Cooper entered the game and got an out, Chandler lined a double into right field that pushed the lead back to 6-5. Two batters later Cruz launched a two-run double off the left-field wall, making it 8-5. Sam Houston then got creative to get out of the inning as Fregia went to the mound and got a grounder off the bat of Collins for the inning’s final out.
Sam Houston left a pair of runners on base in the seventh, but made sure that did not happen again in the eighth. After consecutive walks to Fregia and Clayton Harp, Cannon took Parthasarathy deep to left field for a three-run homer that tied it all up at 8-8.
Rice answered again in its half of the eighth, an inning that started off with a bunt single by Chandler. Sam Houston turned to Dakota Mills from there, but after a sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk, Dunlap put the Owls back in front with an RBI single to center field. Mills and Backhus would then combine to get the Kats out of the inning, sending it to the ninth with the Kats down just a run.
That is when the Kats really turned it on, sending 12 men to the plate and scoring six times to take control of the game. Ochoa started it all by drawing a leadoff walk and then moved to all the way to third on a balk and wild pitch before Hearn tied it up with a sure single into left. Then, after a strikeout of Fregia, Chisolm doubled and the Owls elected to intentionally walk Harp; however, reliever Nick Silber balked on what would have been ball four, allowing pinch runner Mac Odom to come in with the go-ahead run.
Another intentional walk to Haefner followed and Cannon then delivered some insurance, rocketing a two-run double to the wall in left-center field to push the lead to 12-9. Bohnert and Ochoa would follow with RBI singles, giving the Kats a comfortable 14-9 cushion and setting up Backhus to close things out in the ninth.