HUNTSVILLE Keith Stein went 2-for-4 at the plate with a double and a home run for three RBIs and Dallas Gallant spread seven hits over eight innings for the victory on the mound as Sam Houston State defeated Northwestern State 5-1 in a Southland Conference baseball game at Don Sanders Stadium Friday night.


Sam Houston State (28-19, SLC 13-9) will play host to Northwestern State (24-21, SLC 14-7) in the second game of the SLC series at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Demons came into the series leading the Southland Conference East Division while the Bearkats stand third in the SLC West.


Gallant ( 5-3) struck out four Demons and walked only one. Zac Baker pitched the final inning in relief.


Ryan Weber put the Bearkats on the scoreboard in the second inning with an RBI single. The shortstop scored Nick Zaleski who reached first on an error, was sacrificed to second, and got to third base on a ground out.


Jordan Nipp tied the game 1-1 in the top of the third, scoring Dylan Libadisos after he was hit by a 3-2 pitch to lead off the inning. Libadisos reached second on a single by Denney Choate.


With two out in the top of the fifth, Northwestern State threatened as Choate walked, then reached third when an attempted pick-off ended up as a two-base error. But starting pitcher Dallas Gallant struck out the next batter.


Three consecutive extra base hits to start the bottom of the fifth inning gave Sam Houston a 3-2 lead. First, Weber tripled to left center. Then, Todd Sebek doubled to right center to score Weber. Keith Stein continued the hitting spree with a double down the right field line to bring in Sebek.


With one out in the top of the sixth, Northwestern State threatened again with runners on first and second on consecutive singles. But Weber turned an apparent single up the middle by Chase Lyles into a double play with an excellent catch behind the bag and a back-handed toss to second baseman Jaime Rohlmeier to get the Kats out of another jam.


After Sebek led off the bottom of the seventh with a single to center field, Keith Stein blasted his ninth home run of the season over the right field fence to extend Sam Houston’s lead to 5-1. A single by Bobby Verbick chased Demon started Jimmy Heard ( 6-3) who gave up 11 hits in his six plus innings of work.


Relief pitcher J. C. Bredengerd hit Seth Hammond, then Nick Zaleski singled to load the bases with no outs. But a force play at home and a double play got the Demons out of the seventh without any more damage.