Sam Houston took an early lead and held onto it as the Bearkats defeated A&M-Corpus Christi 5-3 and won their first conference series of the year.

The Bearkats (12-11, 2-1) got on the board first when catcher Anthony Azar doubled to drive in second baseman Ryan Farney. Azar hit the ball sharply at the shortstop and it took a high hop after hitting the infield dirt.

SHSU added to their lead when they loaded the bases in the fourth inning. Right fielder Romeo Cortina singled to drive in two runs and make the score 3-0. The freshman had a team-leading five RBI in the series.

Caleb Smith picked up his second straight win, striking out seven in 6 2/3 innings. The junior right-hander allowed just two runs on four hits. Reliever Michael Burchett pitched the final 2 1/3 innings and registered his first save of the season.

The Kats never trailed in the game but the Islanders cut the lead to just one run in the seventh inning. A&M-Corpus led off the inning with a single from first baseman Jonathan Gonzales and a double by third baseman Brad Porras. Gonzalez scored on a fielder’s choice ground ball and Porras on a sacrifice fly in foul territory.

Sam Houston immediately got the runs back in the next half inning. Left fielder Luke Plucheck walked and scored on an infield single by shortstop Carter Burgess. Third baseman Kevin Miller singled and Burgess moved to third. Jessie Plumlee pinch-hit for first baseman Ryan O’Hearn and singled to drive in the Kats fifth run.

Burgess was 3-for-3 with two runs scored and one RBI. The sophomore hit .500 in the series.

The Bearkats host top 25-ranked Rice Wednesday, March 26 for “Service Appreciation Night” at Don Sanders Stadium. That night the Bearkat baseball team will wear special “Warrior Camo Jerseys.”

Each of the 41 jerseys will be auctioned off to fans and proceeds from the auction will benefit the Lone Survivor Foundation. The jersey auction will be held online at and will start on March 26 (game day) and end April 7. Bidding starts at $100. Fans can bid online during the Sam Houston versus Rice game.

Tickets for this event and all other game are available now at or by visiting or calling the Sam Houston athletic ticket office at the Ron Mafrige Field House at (936) 294-1729.