It took a while for the Sam Houston State hitters to get something going Sunday, but once they did they exploded for five runs in the sixth inning to beat Northern Colorado 5-0. The Bearkat pitching staff kept the Bears off the board for their first shutout of the season.

SHSU had just two hits going into the sixth inning of Sunday’s ballgame but sophomore two-way player Dirk Masters, making his first career start on the mound, kept the Kats in the game with five scoreless innings of work. Masters struck out six batters in the game.

“I think to have Dirk get his first start and have success was good. He’s got great stuff and for him to have good success, he’s going to help this club,” head coach David Pierce said. “It was a solid game from us all around and we’ll try to do it again tomorrow.”

After center fielder Colt Atwood flew out to lead off the sixth, the Kats put together three straight singles to open the scoring. Catcher Anthony Azar and right fielder Hayden Simerly each singled and junior infielder Jake MacWilliam, making his first start of his SHSU career, singled to drive in the game-winning run.

“It was big for Jake (MacWilliam) to get his first start. He’s the ultimate utility guy and he’s going to get some starts throughout the year. He can play third base, shortstop and second base. Really proud of the way he competed,” Pierce added.

A few batters later, left fielder Luke Plucheck delivered the big hit, a bases-clearing double down the left field line that plated three more runs. Plucheck would then score on an error by the Bears’ third basement to make the score 5-0.

Freshman two-way player Dylan Ebbs got his first playing time of the season, starting the game at designated hitter and later pitching a scoreless 1 2/3 innings. Ebbs walked twice and scored a run.

Senior reliever Jason Simms pitched the final 2 1/3 innings, striking out two batters and picking up his first save of the season.

Sam Houston State will go for the sweep of Northern Colorado Monday at 4 p.m. at Don Sanders Stadium. The Bearkats will play their first road game Tuesday at McNeese State.