By Gene Schallenberg Huntsville Item Staff Reporter
HUNTSVILLE - Playing from behind can be a difficult task and often is hard to overcome, especially against a solid opponent.
It didn't take long Friday for Texas State to jump on top of Sam Houston State. In fact, the Bearkats didn't get a chance to bat before the Bobcats scored a couple of runs.
The Kats couldn't get the offense going until the final innings, but the game had already gotten out of hand. Sam Houston State (2-2 in Southland Conference, 5-12 overall) never got within a puncher's chance of the Bobcats and lost 12-5 on Friday in the opening game of their Southland Conference baseball series.
"They jumped on us right away and scored four runs in the first two innings," Sam Houston State head coach Mark Johnson said. "We weren't able to get some runs off the bat."
Texas State scored four runs in the first two innings off SHSU starter Dallas Gallant and threatened to add more when the junior pitcher tweaked a back muscle and left the game.
"He pulled something near his rib cage on his back right side, an intercostal muscle or something. That's why he was short-lived tonight," SHSU pitching coach Chris Berry said. "I don't think it's serious. Anytime you have pulls in an area like that where you're forced to use it all the time, it can be a slow-healing process. We won't know a whole lot until it calms down and they look at it tomorrow. We'll see how he responds to treatment tonight and tomorrow and re-evaluate it after that."
Brandon Kimbrel replaced Gallant and Texas State couldn't inflict any more damage. With the bases loaded, right fielder Shaun Garcia hit a long fly ball to center which was caught on the warning track by Mark Hudson.
Through the next couple of frames, the Bobcats (3-1, 10-6) were held at bay, giving the Bearkats the opportunity to try to cut into the deficit. But Sam Houston was stymied through much of the game by Bobcats starter Carson Smith (2-2).
Through six innings, the Bearkats had collected just three hits, but were unable to get any runs across.
"I thought their pitcher, Carson Smith, was as good a pitcher as we've seen all year," Johnson said. "He really threw well. He had high velocity with good movement. I told the players that when you're facing pitching like that, you're going to have to hold the score down. If not then, you'll just have to give them credit, play the next game and hope they don't have another guy like that."
In the seventh inning, after the Bobcats added four more runs to take a 9-0 advantage, the Bearkats finally went on the offensive.
With the bases loaded and two outs, Hudson provided Sam Houston State with some much-needed offense, singling to right field and driving in two runs.
Texas State responded in the top of the eighth with a couple of runs and the Bearkats added three more in the home half of the inning.
"We faced a really good pitcher tonight," Hudson said. "It was hard to find his rhythm. We just took too long to get some runs. It was just a little too long.
"If we could've got into their bullpen a little bit earlier, we would've had a shot. The guy they had today was a pretty good pitcher."
The Bobcats added a run in the ninth, but the Bearkats couldn't answer with any of their own in the final inning.
Sam Houston State will try to accomplish what it did last weekend in Arlington. The Bearkats dropped the opener to the Mavericks, but rebounded and won the next two games.
Due to the threat of rain Saturday, the two will complete the conference series with a doubleheader Sunday afternoon beginning at 12 noon.
Tickets for Sam Houston State home baseball games are on sale online now at www.gobearkats.com or at the Bearkat 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. Ticket office telephone number is (936) 294-1729.