HUNTSVILLE – Sam Houston State right-handed pitcher Heath Donica made the always lengthy offseason worth the wait for a record-setting crowd on Friday night.
Donica spun 14 strikeouts, leading No. 23 Sam Houston to a 1-0 victory against Nevada in front of a Don Sanders Stadium Opening Day record crowd of 1,262 fans.
The strikeout total is the most for a Bearkats (1-0) pitcher since Jesse Marshall had 13 on April 30, 2005 and ranks second in team lore. Donica (1-0), who tossed a complete-game, permitted just one Wolf Pack (0-1) hit while only allowing four Nevada base runners on the night.
The Kats return to action on Saturday for the second of a three-game set against the Wolf Pack. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. from The Don.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Nevada starter Trevor Charpie (0-1) allowed a first-pitch leadoff single to Andrew Fregia opening the first but retired the next five Sam Houston hitters before the Kats were able to strike for the eventual game-winning run.
In the third, Clayton Harp turned a five-pitch at-bat into a leadoff single to left. In his first collegiate at-bat, Mike Williams executed the sacrifice bunt, moving Harp to second. The sophomore swiped third and came home to score one batter later as nine-hole hitter Taylor Beene drove a sacrifice fly into center.
The run was all that was needed for Donica, who fanned five of his final seven hitters. The right-handed threw 107 pitches and induced two double plays on the evening. Only one Nevada base runner reached scoring position, coming with two outs in the fourth.
Charpie drew the hard-fought loss for the Wolf Pack, tossing 6 1-3 innings, permitting five hits and one earned run while striking out five and walking one. Fregia was the game’s lone player with a multi-hit performance, finishing 2-for-4.
Head coach Matt Deggs on Donica’s performance…
“It all starts with the guy on the bump. Heath Donica went out and did what we know he can do every time he steps on the mound. He set an unbelievable tone for us. I told him during the week I’d see him after the game and that’s what happened.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the victory…
“It was a total team effort. I thought our defense was really good tonight. We found a way to get to a really good pitcher. Charpie is a great competitor and he has a good live fastball. We found a way to get to him in the third with a two-strike at-bat by Clayton Harp.”
Starting pitcher Heath Donica on his outing…
“To start the week, I thought we had a good week of preparation. I had an idea of what I wanted to do. I was able to execute a few pitches. Coach (Jay) Sirianni had a great game plan and that led to the success. When I get ahead of hitters, to go to the slider makes it that much easier when Robie Rojas makes all of those plays.”
“I was able to get that jump (on the steal). Coach Harvell was actually yelling ‘back’ when the second baseman came in to pick but he went to the plate so I was able it was to go. Mike (Williams) did a great job executing the bunt. I am sure he was nervous as a freshman. Being able to get to third is crucial for us. We like to call those alpha at-bats. Beene was able to get the bat on the ball and get me in.”