HUNTSVILLE – In front of a record crowd on Wednesday night at Don Sanders Stadium, Sam Houston State had its opportunities but could not cash in at the right times.
The No. 18 Bearkats stranded 10 runners on base and gave up a pair of home runs in a 7-2 loss to No. 16 Texas in front of 2,815 fans. In the first ever visit between the two programs in Huntsville, Texas starter Nolan Kingham (1-1) earned the win, scattering five hits in as many innings of work.
Sam Houston starter Dakota Mills matched zeroes over the first four innings, not allowing his first hit until the fifth. The right-hander drew the hard-fought loss, tossing 4 2-3 innings, allowing three hits and two runs – both of which came on a 2-run homer from Michael Cantu.
The Bearkats continue their seven-game season-opening homestand this weekend, welcoming No. 13 Louisiana to The Don. First pitch Friday is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tickets are still available by calling the Sam Houston ticket office at (936) 294-1729.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Sam Houston loaded the bases with no outs in the third thanks to some help from Kingham. Making his fifth overall start, the right-hander plunked Taylor Beene and walked back-to-back hitters in Bryce Johnson and Riley McKnight.
The Kats could not capitalize, however, as Kingham induced a grounder to third, throwing out Beene at the plate. With Andrew Fregia at the plate, the Longhorns turned a 4-6-3 double play.
After going hitless through four against Mills, Patrick Mathis lined a one-out single to center field and advanced to second on a wild pitch before Cantu scorched a ball over the left-field wall for a 2-0 lead.
The Longhorns drew back-to-back walks in the sixth and once again made Sam Houston pay. With one out and Gabriel Sequeira entering the game, Travis Jones belted an opposite field 3-run home run, giving the Longhorns a five-run advantage.
The Bearkats got on the board in the seventh, taking advantage of Texas miscues. Hunter Hearn and Clayton Harp each reached on five-pitch walks before advancing to second and third with one out on a balk. Beene brought in the first, using a grounder to right side and Bryce Johnson lifted a deep fly to center, trimming the Texas lead to 5-2.
Sam Houston outhit Texas on the evening, 9-6, but the Longhorns stranded just three. As has been a constant in the Bearkats' season, the squad continued to showcase the leather. Harp and Lance Miles each made sensational diving grabs while the squad committed a lone error in the loss.
Head coach Matt Deggs on the record crowd…
“What an atmosphere tonight … this place was electric and was rocking. We’ve had a vision here of being able to host something like this and a regional down the road and this was a look of what this place was capable of doing. We appreciate David Pierce and the Longhorns wanting to come here and play us.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the missed opportunities…
“They make it tough on you. They make you earn everything you get and everyone saw that here tonight. We stranded 10 runners and they were very opportunities. We walked five and four of them scored. We had them surrounded in the first, third and fifth innings and that’s what good pitching does. They were able to work their way out of it. We’ve got to be able to finish at-bats.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the performance of Dakota Mills …
“The best pitch in baseball is strike one. He challenged with the fastball. Dakota was able to locate the fastball to both sides of the plate and keep them off it with his changeup. I thought he got in a groove and did a really nice job for us.”
Starting pitcher Dakota Mills on his outing …
“They are a great hitting ballclub. I think I was just leaving some stuff out over the plate and they punished my mistakes. I was pounding the fastball inside and outside. With the defense we had, Clayton Harp made a diving catch, which helped me out a lot. We were able to keep their bats quiet early on.”
Center fielder Bryce Johnson on working to respond to stranded runners…
“We had the bases loaded and we had second and third. You just have to come back and respond. We have practice tomorrow and we’ll work on it. We have to be ready for those type of situations. When a team like Texas gives you those opportunities, we have to capitalize. We’ll come back better from it.”