By Gene Schallenberg Sports
HUNTSVILLE - Fighting for position against Nicholls to get into the Southland Conference tournament, the Bearkats knew they needed to get off to a good start.
Sam Houston got plenty of early offense and a solid outing from starter Dallas Gallant as the Bearkats topped Nicholls 11-5 on Friday.
"It's getting to get into crunch time with just a few more weeks left in the season. It's time to step it up, that's what good teams do," SHSU designated hitter Chris Andreas said. "We did a good job today. The hitting really came through in the clutch. Dallas did a really good job on the mound, too."
After keeping the Colonels (8-11 in Southland play, 18-19 overall) off the board through the first three innings, the Bearkats got a big boost in the third inning, scoring five runs to jump out to a 6-0 lead.
With a 2-0 lead, Andreas blasted a three-run shot off Nicholls left-handed ace, Jarret Dunham (4-4) that sailed just passed the right side of the center-field wall. After that, Taylor Davis launched a shot of his own that cleared the left-field wall.
"(Dunham) threw well but he was always getting behind in the count. Everyone seemed to sit on a fastball with a 3-1 count," said Andreas, who hit 3-for-3 with five RBIs. "That's what I had on that homer to center field. He kind of developed a trend and we picked up on that.
"When you get up on a team, it's really hard to come back from behind when you're down six runs."
Following Davis' solo home run, Dunham was pulled after giving up six runs in two innings. The Bearkats, though, kept blasting away, scoring five runs in the next five innings off several Nicholls relievers.
"We were able to jump on their Friday nighter and got into their bullpen, which has a tendency to pay off on Sundays because you've already used some guys," SHSU head coach Mark Johnson said. "They probably used a few pitchers they didn't want to use tonight."
With a comfortable six-run lead, Gallant was able to settle in and attack the Colonels batters. He (2-6) spread seven hits over eight innings, striking out 10.
"Coach (Chris) Berry put in a good scouting on them," Gallant said. "I just tried to keep the ball down and in the zone. We didn't want to walk them and put them on base because that's what they want. When they get the first guy on, they can do a little hit-and-run and slap bunting.
"... After getting that big lead, I just knew to go right after guys. We didn't want to let them get guys on base and give them a chance to get some momentum going."
It wasn't until the sixth inning that Nicholls cracked the scoreboard, driving in two runs.
The Bearkats (9-10, 16-23) responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame and added two runs in the seventh and one in the eighth.
Daniel Nottebart pitched the final inning, allowing three runs before coaxing left fielder Keith Kulbeth to ground into a fielder's choice for the final out of the game.
"They did a pretty good job of trying to battle back in the end. Luckily, Nottebart was able to close it out," Andreas said.
The Bearkats face Nicholls again today in the second game of series at Don Sanders Stadium at 2 p.m
LITTLE LEAGUE WEEKEND AT DON SANDERS
This weekend is Bearkat Baseball "Little League Weekend" at Don Sanders Stadium. All players and coaches wearing their team jersey/uniform will receive free admission to the Bearkats vs. Colonels games on Saturday (April 24) at 2 p.m. and Sunday (April 25) at 1 p.m.
Following the final game of the series Sunday, the Bearkat baseball team will hold a free clinic for little league players in uniform attending the game. Youngsters planning to participate in the clinic are encouraged to bring their baseball glove.
For more information on exciting offers like the "Friday Family Pack Tickets", go to the ticket link below or contact the Sam Houston State ticket office located in the Ron Mafrige Field House at Bowers Stadium. The ticket office telephone number is (936) 294-1729.