HUNTSVILLE – Twenty-third ranked Sam Houston State recovered from an early two-run deficit as the bats awoke in an 8-2 series-clinching victory against Nevada on Sunday afternoon at Don Sanders Stadium.
The Bearkats (2-1), who entered the game without an extra-base hit, pounded out six doubles, including two from Bryce Johnson, and a game-tying home run from Andrew Fregia. The victory allowed Sam Houston to extend its home series winning streak to 16 straight.
Making his freshman debut, right-hander Hayden Wesneski (1-0) picked up the victory. The Cypress product tossed 5 2-3 innings, allowing four hits and a pair of runs while striking out three and walking another.
Riley McKnight and Hunter Hearn each finished with a pair of RBIs while Johnson, Robie Rojas and Hearn tallied two hits on the day. Rojas, who added his second caught stealing, finished the three-game set 5-for-9 with a team-leading .556 average.
Sam Houston returns to action on Wednesday evening, hosting Texas for the first time in program history. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. from The Don. The game will also be televised on Spectrum Sports as well as online courtesy of ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Nevada (1-2) jumped on Sam Houston in the first, thanks to some hard-pressed luck. After two quick groundouts to third, Nevada’s Cole Krzmarzick lifted a ball into deep left field. Clayton Harp made a leaping effort, making contact with the ball, allowing it to bounce over the wall for a 2-run home run.
The Kats cut the deficit in half in the second thanks to a two-out single from Hearn, plating Rojas, who reached on a first-pitch single and advanced to second on a Harp groundout.
The fireworks continued in the fourth highlighted by a leadoff solo home run from Andrew Fregia, knotting the game at 2-2. The Kats continued to provide the pressure as Jaxxon Grisham followed with a five-pitch walk and stole second before advancing to third on a Rojas flyout.
Harp followed with a one-out, five-pitch walk. With runners on the corners, Nevada freshman starter Grant Ford (0-1) sailed a throw to first, allowing Grisham to score as Sam Houston took a 3-2 lead.
The Wolf Pack threatened to tie the game, and more, in the sixth after it appeared Wesneski had the final out of the frame on a bouncing strikeout. The ensuing throw was low to first as the inning continued. After issuing a walk to load the bases, left-handed reliever Kyle Backhus got Jed Sprague to fly out to left.
The Bearkats pushed across another run in the sixth thanks to a well-hit ball from Rojas, sailing over the center fielder’s head, plating Grisham, who reached on a seven-pitch leadoff walk.
The Kats bullpen allowed three runs over the final five innings on Saturday but the new-look unit responded in a big way in the finale. With Sam Houston leading 6-2, Nevada loaded the bases again in the eighth, only to see Blake Chisolm induce an inning-ending groundout.
Sam Houston tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the eighth thanks to RBI doubles from Hearn and Johnson, scoring Austin Adams and Mac Odom respectively.
Sam Houston relief pitching held Nevada without a run on a pair of occasions with the bases loaded. After permitting a pair of Wolf Pack hits and runs in the opening frame, Nevada was held off the scoreboard the remainder of the afternoon. Bearkat pitching administered just two walks in the win.
Head coach Matt Deggs on the series win…
“I thought it was a great weekend. God blessed us with some tremendous weather and our crowd was a huge advantage. I think Nevada is a really good ball club. They play in a great league and are very well coached. It was a really good test for us. We got exposed in a couple areas yesterday and we did a really nice job bouncing back and responding.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the offensive outpour…
“These guys are great at being uncomfortable so when they get into those situations, they thrive. Sometimes when someone scores on us first it’s a relief. It allows us to come in and get after it at the plate. We made a couple of adjustments at the plate this morning and we started playing more our style of baseball.”
Outfielder Hunter Hearn on the victory…
“It feels great. We’ve been grinding every day. We try to stick with our approach and today it finally started busting through. Things started going our way. The Andrew Fregia home run got our confidence up for sure. I think it was a big rally booster for us.”
Starting pitcher Hayden Wesneski on his first collegiate win…
“I am not going to lie, I was pretty nervous. It was good knowing eight other guys were behind me and not only them but the guys in the dugout. I could hear them the whole time. I knew we were going to score runs and we would play clean defense. I was a little more in the zone after the first-inning home run."