By Gene Schallenberg The Huntsville Item
HUNTSVILLE - The Bearkats sure had a flair for the dramatic on Sunday.
After being pushed to the brink in both of their games, the Bearkats pulled through with a pair of walk-off victories over Northern Colorado and Creighton.
Northern Colorado pushed Sam Houston State to 15 innings before Bearkats catcher Doug Oney hit a solo home run to give SHSU a 4-3 win. Later on Sunday, the Kats rallied from a two-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth to defeat Creighton 11-10.
"We've been in these situations before, we just haven't got the hit. That's what separates us from being .500 right now," Sam Houston State head coach Mark Johnson said. "Today was a grind and they're all grinds. The team has shown a lot of resolve. We haven't had a good start, of course, but we have guys that are doing better and getting better.
"It's embarrassing when you don't do well and you have just one win in 10 tries. But they haven't quit. That's a good sign and I think there's good things coming."
In the nightcap against Creighton, the Bearkats (3-9) had loaded the bases with two outs and trailing by a run in the bottom of the ninth when SHSU right fielder Greg Olson had a golden opportunity to play the role of the hero.
Olson got behind early in the at-bat, but battled back against Bluejays reliever Bobby Lackovic to draw the count full.
With all the runners taking off, Olson hit a liner just over second baseman Alex Staehely's glove and into right-center field as Payton Wisener and Doug Oney crossed home plate for the tying and game-winning runs, respectively.
"In that last at-bat when the count got eventually full, I told myself because I had been here the whole day that it was nothing different. All I had to do was shorten up my swing and put something on the ball," Olson said. "I saw the ball out of his hand and I got as much on it as I could.
"Personally, I've never been able to dogpile or celebrate like that so to do that twice in one day and for me to be the cause of one of them is a great feeling."
The Bearkats trailed by two runs entering the final inning, but third baseman Kevin Miller drew a bases-loaded walk to cut the Bluejays' lead to one run.
Sam Houston State was in command in the early innings. The Bearkats scored seven runs in the first two innings and added another in the fourth to take an 8-7 lead.
Creighton (5-3) left-handed reliever Jack VanLeur came in and nearly shut the door on the SHSU offense.
VanLeur held the Kats to just three hits with no runs over 4 2/3 innings as the Bluejays retook the lead in the fifth inning and added insurance runs in the seventh and eighth.
"We're going to have to make that adjustment against left-handers," Johnson said. "Three of our four games this weekend were against left-handers. It's good that we got to work against those guys because we're going to see (left-handers) in conference. We're just going to have to adjust."
In the earlier game against Northern Colorado, the Bearkats finally got the winning touch they needed after the game that went back and forth and extended into extra innings.
With one out in the bottom of the 15th inning, catcher Doug Oney blasted a pitch that he sent just over the left-field fence to snap a two-game losing streak.
After eight innings, the Kats were holding onto a slim 3-2 lead.
But Bears' leadoff hitter and first baseman Kyle Hardman homered to tie the game at 3.
The Bearkats had a chance in the bottom half of the inning to end the game.
Sam Houston State had two runners in scoring position with one out, but Oney was thrown out at home on second baseman Braeden Riley's hit to shortstop Tony Crudo.
"We faced a lot of adversity today," Johnson added. "I was pleased to see the guys step up and battle through it."
Sam Houston's next action is a Tuesday night visit to Houston to play Rice.
Tickets for Sam Houston State baseball at Don Sanders Stadium are on sale now online at www.gobearkats.com or at the SHSU Athletic Ticket Office located in the Ron Mafrige Field House at Bowers Stadium. Ticket office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The ticket office telephone is (936) 294-1729.