HOUSTON -- The Bearkats manufactured a run in the ninth inning to break a 4-4 tie and beat No. 12 Houston, 5-4 Tuesday at Cougar Field. Designated hitter Hayden Simerly scored the first and final runs of the game, the final on a sacrifice fly after he was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame.
Sam Houston (27-14) had to rally from a pair of one-run deficits to scratch out the win. The game was knotted up twice as well, including going into the ninth inning.
“I thought we had great at bats all night and we pitched well in spots and well enough to win the game,” head coach David Pierce said. “We just kept grinding it out all night. Houston has a great team and this is a great win for us.”
The Kats opened the scoring in the first when Simerly doubled to the gap in right center and moved to third when the ball was bobbled in the outfield. Catcher Anthony Azar drove him in with an RBI-groundout.
The Cougars loaded the bases in the bottom of the first but starter Dylan Ebbs was able to work around it with the 1-0 lead intact. Houston would eventually take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third on three singles.
Sam Houston tied the game in the top of the sixth after Azar led off with a walk. First baseman Ryan O’Hearn singled and third baseman Carter Burgess singled to drive in Azar. The Kats had two runners on base and no outs but couldn’t retake the lead.
Houston took the lead back after Andrew Godail issued two walks to lead off the seventh inning and was replaced by Jason Simms. Simms hit a batter to load the bases with one out before an error at shortstop allowed a run to come in.
The Kats retook the lead with a pair of runs in the eighth. Azar was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame and went first to third on a single by first baseman Ryan O’Hearn. Burgess came through with an RBI groundout to tie the game 3-3.
Luke Plucheck drove a single into right field to score O’Hearn and give the Kats a 4-3 lead. SHSU would leave the bases loaded in the inning.
Houston immediately responded to knot the game back up in the bottom of the eighth. Back-to-back one out doubles off of reliever Seth Holbert made the score 4-4.
Simerly was hit by a pitch to lead off the ninth inning, Azar legged out an infield single and O’Hearn sacrificed the runners over. After Houston intentionally walked Burgess, shortstop Corey Toups came through with the game-winning sacrifice fly.
It was a group effort by the pitching staff as seven different Kats took the mound. Lefty Austin Ray tossed 1 2/3 innings as the first guy out of the bullpen. Nolan Riggs tossed two scoreless frames and Jason Simms pitched another scoreless inning.
Ryan Brinley pitched a perfect bottom of the ninth, and struck out the final batter of the game to pick up his third save of the season.
SHSU will look to carry the momentum into this weekend as the first place Southeastern Louisiana Lions come to Don Sanders Stadium for a three-game series.