Catcher Anthony Azar knocked a game-winning single up the middle in the tenth inning to lead the Bearkats, 4-3, over Northwestern State in the first game of the three-game series.

Sam Houston (25-17, 10-6) moves back into a tie for first place in the Southland Conference standings. The Kats are tied with Lamar and Stephen F. Austin, who are playing each other this weekend.

Centerfielder Colt Atwood led off the tenth with a bunt single and then stole second base while Azar was batting. The Demon’s catcher made an errant throw to allow Atwood to advance to third before Azar made the game-winning hit.

The Bearkats took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Atwood and Azar walked and third baseman Kevin Miller singled to score Atwood.

Northwestern State tied the game in the third inning after a hit batter came around to score. The runner advanced to third on an error by pitcher Andrew Godail and scored on a sacrifice fly.

SHSU retook the lead in the fourth inning after second baseman Ryan Farney singled to score shortstop Carter Burgess. The lead didn’t last long as Northwestern State scored two in the bottom half of the inning.

The Kats tied the game back up, 3-3, on a sixth-inning single by right fielder Ryan O’Hearn to score Miller.

Godail pitched six innings allowing three runs on six hits and two walks while striking out six batters. Logan Boyd was the first man out of the bullpen and pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings allowing just one hit.

Reliever Jason Simms was the winning pitcher after tossing 2 2/3 innings without allowing a hit.

Game two of the three-game series is Saturday at 2 p.m. in Natchitoches, La.