By Cody Stark Huntsville Item
HUNTSVILLE - A night after battling to the wire to pick up a win against Houston Baptist, the Bearkats had an easier time taking care of Prairie View A&M on Wednesday night.
Sam Houston State cranked out 13 hits and got a solid start from junior pitcher Brandon Kimbrel to cruise past the Panthers 8-3 at Don Sanders Stadium.
Junior second baseman Braeden Riley cranked a two-run double off the left-field wall and junior center fielder Mark Hudson blasted a two-run home run, both coming in the fourth inning, to help the Bearkats improve to 8-13 on the season.
"It was a good night and it wasn't as taxing as all of our games typically are," Bearkats head coach Mark Johnson said. "We really go down to the wire in so many games and it strains us. It was good to have a relaxed atmosphere and feel good about it."
The victory moved Johnson's career victory total to 997, putting him just three wins away from becoming the 16th active NCAA Division I baseball head coach to reach 1,000 career coaching wins.
Sam Houston chipped away early with a run in the first, second and third innings to open up a 3-0 lead.
Junior shortstop Ryan Mooney hit a sacrifice fly to right field to plate freshman Greg Olson, who led the game off with a double into the left-field corner. Olson also ripped an RBI single in the second inning.
After junior Daniel Nottebart added another run on a sacrifice fly in the third, the Bearkats opened the game up in the fourth.
Freshman Jessie Plumlee walked and junior Doug Oney reached on an error. Both runners moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Olson. Riley then sent a pitch from Panthers reliever Derek Zapata off the wall in left to make it 5-0.
Hudson quickly cleared the bases with a towering shot over the left-field wall. Prairie View left fielder Brandon Williams turned to watch the blast, but didn't even bother trying to run it down.
"I think we played relaxed and just had fun," said Hudson, who went 3-for-4 with two runs scored. "We just came out to the ballpark like little kids just to have fun. We did really good and our defense shows. We didn't make any errors."
While the Bearkats were getting it done at the plate, Kimbrel was lights out on the mound. He tossed five innings of two-hit ball and finished with seven strikeouts to earn his first win of the season.
Freshman Jacob McMurty pitched a scoreless sixth inning for Sam Houston, but he ran into control problems in the seventh. He loaded the bases with a walk and two hit batsman.
Panthers center fielder Brandon Brooks brought in Prairie View's first run with a sacrifice fly and second baseman Salvador Hernandez laced a two-run double into the left-center field gap to cut the Bearkats' lead to 8-3.
Juniors Paul Spinn and Brent Powers closed the door on the Panthers (4-15) by pitching a scoreless eighth and ninth inning, respectively.
"I was particularly pleased with the pitchers," Johnson said. "I thought the pitchers, regardless of who we were playing, threw better tonight. That is what I wanted to see. We talked last night about bringing all your stuff out there regardless if it was good or bad. I thought they did a good job of that.
"That is how you get better."
Olson finished the night 3-for-3 at the plate. Designated hitter Chris Andreas went 3-for-4 and Mooney added an RBI single in the sixth
Sam Houston returns to Southland Conference action Friday as the Kats begin a three-game league series with UTSA in San Antonio.
The Bearkats' next home game is Tuesday, March 30, against Dallas Baptist at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets for Sam Houston State baseball home games are on sale online at www.gobearkats.com. The Sam Houston State athletic ticket office in the Ron Mafrige Field House at Bowers Stadium is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The ticket office telephone number is 936 294-1729.