HUNTSVILLE – Sam Houston State used an all-around performance on Sunday, battling back from a two-run deficit, to defeat No. 13 Louisiana, 8-3 at Don Sanders Stadium.
Sam Houston starter Hayden Wesneski (2-0) allowed two first inning runs but buckled down, permitting seven hits and three runs while striking out two to pick up his second win. Kyle Backhus earned his first collegiate save, tossing four scoreless frames while scattering three hits against the Cajuns (3-3).
The Bearkats (3-4) exploded for a season-high 10 hits including a pair from Mac Odom, Hunter Hearn and Taylor Beene. Andrew Fregia totaled three RBIs, including his first triple of the season. Sam Houston played error-free baseball while the staff did not allow a walk.
The squad hits the road for a single-game on Tuesday at Texas State (6:30 p.m.) before returning to The Don a day later to open an eight-game homestand against Pepperdine at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available by calling (936) 294-1729.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Louisiana used four first-inning singles, including three on full counts, to jump out to a 2-0 advantage. Steven Sensley and Alex Pinero provided the pair of one-out, run-scoring hits, both sent to right field. The Cajuns pushed Wesneski to 38 pitches in the opening frame.
Sam Houston responded immediately in the bottom half as Bryce Johnson reached on a first-pitch hit by pitch from Louisiana starter Evan Guillory (0-1). Mac Odom followed, laying down the sacrifice bunt, moving Johnson to second before eventually taking third on a balk.
That set the stage for Andrew Fregia, who registered seven triples a season ago, ranking 11th nationally. The sophomore picked up his first of this season, driving a ball to right center, bringing home Johnson to cut the Louisiana lead in half at 2-1.
Wesneski responded on the hill setting down the Cajuns in order in the second and the Bearkats carried the momentum at the plate. Blake Chisolm led off by lining a wall-ball double into left field and advanced to third as Hearn shot a single into left field.
The Bearkats attempted the double steal but could not get Chisolm home as Hearn advanced to second and the freshman was out on the throw. Taylor Beene added a single up the middle, his second hit of the series, to tie the game at 2-2.
Sam Houston scored for the third straight inning, taking a 3-2 lead in the third. Odom logged his first hit of the season, fighting off a 1-2 count to single into shallow center. The speedy sophomore stole second and was moved to third on a Lance Miles sacrifice bunt.
Andrew Fregia added his second RBI of the game, hitting a dribbler to deep shortstop, bringing home Odom for a 3-2 advantage. The lead was the first for the Bearkats since jumping ahead of Nevada in an eventual 8-2 victory one week prior against Nevada.
Wesneski had retired 10 in a row entering the fifth but the Cajuns busted out of the drought with a first-pitch leadoff home run from nine-hole hitter Hunter Kasuls. After a 1-2 single from Conrad, Wesneski buckled down, inducing the 6-4-3 double play.
The Bearkats found the big inning they had been looking for in the fifth, plating four runs on as many hits and a Louisiana error. Beene and Johnson each reached base on singles. With Odom at the plate, Johnson swiped second, eventually taking third on Odom’s RBI single to shortstop.
Fregia followed, reaching on an error from third baseman Joe Robbins, moving all the way to third on the low throw to first as Odom came home from first and Johnson from third to take a 6-3 lead. Robie Rojas continued his early-season surge with an RBI double to left center for the 7-3 advantage.
For the sixth straight frame, Sam Houston put the leadoff man aboard as Hearn welcomes Louisiana reliever Jack Burk with a double, just out of the reach of Robbins at third, down the left field line. Beene moved Johnson to third on a first-pitch sac bunt.
With the Cajuns’ infield in, Johnson hit a dribbler to first base and Pinero elected to come home. The throw was on time but Hearn was able to get his foot around the tag and the Kats pushed the lead to 8-3.
Head coach Matt Deggs on the victory…
“It was great to see us come back and respond and salvage the week. Championships are won on Sunday. That was gigantic for us. That is a really talented team. I thought the key for us today was not walking anybody and no errors. We had two freshmen fill up the strike zone.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the offense and taking momentum into Tuesday…
“I thought we did a great job with our approach today offensively. We’ve been out of whack but had a great early work this morning and made a couple of adjustments. I really liked the way we competed today. When you’re playing this schedule, there are no easy days so if you have a chance to beat someone, you’ve got to do that. We didn’t give them anything for free.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the improvement seen…
“We’ll continue to get better. We have a long way to go. This is a marathon and not a sprint. They aren’t handing out championships in February. What we’ve got to do is continue to get better, stay in the process and take it one game at a time.”
Third baseman Andrew Fregia on capturing the series finale…
“Championship teams don’t get swept at home. I know it was tough to battle back with what we did the last two days. We just had to come out and respond. We knew we were going to get punched in the mouth but what we did after that was awesome.”
Starting pitcher Hayden Wesneski on the outing…
“I was trying to get the other eight guys involved and just give the team a chance to get a win. I started getting into a rhythm. We kept scoring runs. When we do that, it gives you a motive to shut them down again. With the loose environment scoring runs each inning, it helps.”