It came down the final day of the regular season, but the Sam Houston State baseball team wrapped up a third consecutive outright Southland championship with a 9-1 win over A&M-Corpus Christi Saturday at Don Sanders Stadium.
“This is absolutely incredible,” senior left fielder Luke Plucheck said. “About a month ago we knew the race was going to be tight but we said, ‘let’s win the last 12,’ and that’s exactly what we did. I couldn’t be more proud of this team and coaching staff.”
Sam Houston (40-15, 22-8 SLC) won the final 12 league games to claim the title. The 40 overall regular-season wins is the most since the 1987 season. This is just the fourth time that an SHSU team has won 40 or more games at the Division I level.
Sam Houston will also be the top seed at the Southland Tournament for the third straight year. The tourney gets underway Wednesday, May 21 in Conway, Ark.
Starter Sam Odom gave up just one run on five hits in seven innings on the mound. The freshman struck out two batters and earned his team-leading ninth win of the season. The ninth win also ties him for the lead in the Southland.
“Coach has complete faith in me and he showed it today,” Odom said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more. I took the ball and did exactly what I was supposed to do and what he believed I could do. It’s a great feeling.”
As they did in each game of the series, the Islanders took an early lead. But just as the Bearkats did in every game this weekend, they put together a big inning to blow the game open.
SHSU had a 2-1 lead going to the sixth inning before they exploded for five runs to put the game out of reach.
A big one-out error by the Islander second baseman put Ryan O’Hearn on first to start the offensive barrage. After third baseman Carter Burgess flew out to left field, shortstop Corey Toups and second baseman Shea Pierce each worked walks to load the bases.
Plucheck, playing in his final regular-season game at home, delivered a big two-run single into left field. After a pitching change right fielder Travis Lee drove in another run with an RBI single.
Center fielder Colt Atwood delivered the big blow with a two-run single to right field, scoring Plucheck and Pierce to make the score 7-1.
The Bearkats tacked on two more insurance runs in the seventh inning to seal the win.
Andrew Godail pitched a scoreless eighth inning in relief and struck out one batter. Ryan Brinley pitched a hitless ninth inning and struck out two batters.
“For us to be able to sweep the last four weekends is about as good as it gets,” head coach David Pierce said. “We went into the weekend with four teams with the possibility of winning the league. It’s just a great team that I’m so proud of. Now it’s time for us to go figure out how to win a tournament.”
The Kats will open the Southland tournament against the No. 8 seed Lamar Wed,. May 21 at 12 p.m.