HUNTSVILLE – There was nothing that would not fall for Sam Houston State on Saturday.
The Bearkats took advantage of A&M-Corpus Christi mistakes while roughing the Islanders up for 11 runs in the fifth inning as part of a 19-1 victory at Don Sanders Stadium.
Sam Houston (14-5, 5-0 Southland) scored three runs in the first and fourth, two runs in the second and 11 in the fifth. The team’s 19 runs were the most since scoring 23 a season ago at Incarnate Word. The Kats drew 11 walks and four hit by pitches.
Bryce Johnson and Clayton Harp, batting 1-2, combined to go 2-for-2 with 10 runs scored, five RBIs, six walks and three hit by pitches. The two hits were a triple and first-career home run from Harp. In the three-hole, Lance Miles finished 4-for-6 with three runs scored and as many RBIs.
Sam Houston’s top-five hitters accounted for 16 RBIs including Harp, Blake Chisolm and Andrew Fregia who each tallied four. On the mound, starter Seth Ballew (1-1) permitted just two hits and one run while striking out a season-high five hitters and walking two in five innings to pick up his first win.
Left-handed reliever Kyle Backhus picked up his second save, tossing four scoreless frames while scattering five hits. The freshman fanned a season-high six hitters.
The Kats search for their second Southland Conference sweep on Sunday, taking on the Islanders at 1 p.m. Sam Houston sends right-handed freshman Hayden Wesneski to the mound. He will be opposed by right-hander Cole Carter in the finale.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Sam Houston broke the game open early, sending all nine hitters to the plate in the first inning, using a Fregia RBI single through the left side and a Blake Chisolm two-run double to left center for a 3-0 lead.
The Kats loaded the bases as Johnson and Harp walked and Miles beat an infield bunt single to begin the frame. Johnson again reached via the hit by pitch to lead off the second, setting the stage for Harp’s first-career home run, a towering shot to right center for a 5-0 advantage.
On the hill, Ballew matched the intensity, striking out five of the first six hitters he faced. A&M-Corpus Christi (6-13, 0-2 SLC) got on the board in the third, using a one-out triple from Dan Brokop and RBI groundout from Dalton Stark to trim the deficit to 5-1.
Harp continued his assault of the Islanders in the fourth, drilling a full-count pitch off the wall in center field, scoring Johnson from second on the triple for a 6-1 advantage. The Kats continued to inflict two-out damage in the series, courtesy of RBI singles from Chisolm and Hunter Hearn for an 8-1 lead.
Sam Houston produced its biggest inning of the season and highest scoring frame in nearly a year, pounding the Islanders for 11 runs in the fifth inning, using four walks and three hit by pitches before Miles drilled a three-run double down the left field line and Fregia connected with his fourth home run, a two-run shot that cleared the left-field wall.
STAT OF THE DAY
Center fielder Bryce Johnson produced five runs, an RBI and three stolen bases without recording an official at bat. The junior came to hit in four different innings before exiting the game in the seventh. Johnson drew walks in the first, fourth and fifth as well as hit by pitches in the second and fifth innings.
Head coach Matt Deggs on the victory…
“The story of the day is starting pitching. Seth Ballew went out and threw the ball like he is capable of. He goes five and gave up two hits. The defense was outstanding, dominating the routine play and turning a couple double plays. It gives us a chance to score and score big.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the heart of the order…
“I thought we had a great approach today. We got our pitch and when we did we hit it hard. Harp had a great game for us. We talk about the middle of the order but Bryce was on base five times today. I think the theme offensively was guys like Fregia, Chisolm and Rojas cleaning up with two outs. They were never able to finish us.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the performance of Kyle Backhus…
“He’s a potential starter down the road so we wanted to stretch him out and get his pitch count up. I thought he did a great job challenging the strike zone on both sides of the plate. He had a really good slider going. Those pitchers are going in and throwing whatever they want because they know Robie Rojas and Hunter (Southerland) are doing a great job behind the plate.”
Third baseman Andrew Fregia on the offensive output…
“That is all of us clicking on the same cylinder. That’s all it boils down to. It’s expected from the heart of our lineup. I really don’t think we have one strong part of our lineup, it’s the whole lineup. Everyone is tough to get out.”
Outfielder Clayton Harp on his first career home run…
“It was really nice to get that first one out of the way. As soon as I hit it, I thought it had a chance. I knew the wind was blowing out that way. I knew I put a good swing on it. It’s nice to get that first one out of the way and get everyone in the dugout to be quiet about it.”