FORT WORTH -- Sam Houston State staved off elimination with a 9-2 win over Siena to reach a second NCAA Regional final in the last three seasons. The Bearkats (43-18) will get a rematch with TCU (44-15) Sunday at 7 p.m. If the Kats beat the Horned Frogs Sunday the two teams will meet again Monday night at 7 p.m.
“Our team all year has talked about the depth that we have and Coach (Pierce) preaches that it takes everybody and today was one of those days,” assistant coach Sean Allen said. “We started some guys that haven’t played every day and came up with some big hits. The pitching staff was great today. Sam Odom was great and Seth Holbert was lights out and gives us a chance tonight.”
The Bearkats took out some of their frustrations from the previous night with a five-run second inning.
First baseman Ryan O’Hearn lined a single to center field to open the second and came around to score on a double by third baseman Carter Burgess and a throwing error in right field. Left fielder Dylan Ebbs singled up the middle to drive in Burgess from third.
Catcher Hunter Courson reached on a fielder’s choice bunt for the first out. Shortstop Corey Toups then hammered a double to left field to put runners on second and third.
Center fielder Colt Atwood, who was moved to ninth in the batting order, lined his first hit of the tournament to drive in two more runs. Atwood then stole second base to get into scoring position for second baseman Ryan Farney, who singled through the right side to make the score 5-0.
Siena went to the bullpen with one out in the second and reliever Kyano Cummings was able to induce a groundball double play to end the Bearkat barrage.
Cummings allowed just one base runner, a two-out walk in the third, through his first 5 1/3 innings of relief.
“We had been needing the breakout inning that we usually get in game and we finally got it,” freshman Dylan Ebbs said. “It boosts your confidence a lot. We definitely want revenge so we’re definitely going to go as hard as we can.”
The Saints got on the board with a pair of runs in the fourth inning after a single and a walk were sacrificed to second and third. Center fielder Dan Swain delivered a two-run double down the left field line to make the score 5-2.
SHSU starter Sam Odom faced another tough spot in the fifth inning when a single to left field loaded the bases with one out. Odom was able to get a strikeout and a fly out to work out of it.
The freshman starter worked himself into another jam in the fifth and was lifted after a two-out walk. Seth Holbert came out of the bullpen and got the Bearkats out of another tight spot.
Holbert got into a little trouble with a single and a walk in the seventh but managed to strikeout Siena left fielder Andres Ortiz to end the frame.
Farney singled with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to break up the Bearkats hitless streak. Right fielder Travis Lee was hit by a pitch and Siena followed with a pitching change.
Just hours after catching 22 innings against TCU, Anthony Azar entered the game as a pinch-hitter to face the Siena reliever in the seventh. The senior delivered by hammering a two-run double off the wall in left center field.
The Bearkats tacked on two more runs in the eighth to give Holbert a 9-2 lead to work with in the ninth.
The freshman reliever tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings of relief and picked up his first career save. Holbert allowed three hits and one walk and struck out one batter.