By: Shelby Salkar/SHSU Media Relations
HUNTSVILLE – Sam Houston State scored in seven consecutive innings and pounded out 17 hits in a 14-2 victory against UT Arlington on Tuesday night at Don Sanders Stadium.
The win was the Bearkats eighth consecutive and 14th in the last 15 games for Sam Houston, running the team’s record to 16-5 while continuing a scorching month of March that has seen the Kats hit .340 as a team and post a .438 on base percentage in 13 games.
Sam Houston scored three runs in the first and seventh, one run each in the second, third, fifth and sixth as well as four in the fourth. The result marked the first time since 2011 that the program had scored one run in at least six consecutive frames.
Sam Houston starter Dakota Mills (3-1) picked up his third win, scattering five hits in six innings while striking out two, permitting one run and not allowing a free pass. Offensively, ten different players picked up at least one hit including three each from Bryce Johnson and Andrew Fregia.
The Kats continue their eight-game homestand by hosting three against Buffalo beginning Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Friday’s first pitch is also slated for 6:30 p.m. while Saturday’s finale will take place at 3 p.m.
HOW IT HAPPENED
UT Arlington (11-11) started with a bang courtesy of a leadoff home run from Christian Hollie on the fourth pitch he saw. The junior’s solo shot would be all the Mavericks could muster off Mills.
The Kats came out swinging in the bottom half as Clayton Harp delivered his second triple in as many games bringing Bryce Johnson home, knotting the game at 1-1. Lance Miles followed, reaching on an infield single to provide the Kats a 2-1 lead.
Miles stole second and came around to score when Hunter Hearn lined a single to left field for his seventh RBI of the season, upping the Kats advantage to 3-1.
On the mound, Mills recovered nicely as he only allowed a hit each in the second and third inning and did not permit a UTA runner to reach scoring position in the remainder of his outing.
The Kats continued to pile on for their starter in the second. Taylor Beene reached on the hit by pitch and Sam Houston, which enter the game fourth nationally in sacrifice bunts, showcased its ability. Riley McKnight advanced Beene to second on the sac bunt and stole third setting up a Bryce Johnson single to plate a hustling Beene for a 4-1 lead.
In the third, Miles recorded his second hit and took second as Fregia beat the bunt. With Nate VanDyke pinch-hitting, the trend continued as he moved the runners to second and third on a sac bunt setting the stage for Robie Rojas who drove a ball to center field for the sac fly and a 5-1 advantage.
The Bearkats bats broke through once more in the fourth producing four runs on as many hits. The four-plus run frame was the fifth in the last five games for Sam Houston and continued the Bearkats dominance in the middle innings.
Beene reached for the second time on a hit by pitch and the Sam Houston bunt game made the Mavs pay as McKnight reached on the play. Harp singled through right side scoring two and Miles added another on a groundout. Fregia followed, taking the first pitch up the middle for an RBI single and the fourth run in the frame and a 9-1 lead.
The Kats tacked on a single run in the next two frames as Jaxxon Grisham delivered a triple to left center and Beene grounded out to score Grisham. Like clockwork, Fregia belted the 10th triple of his career, moving him inside the top-10 in program history. VanDyke scored the speedster on a sac fly to center.
On the hill, Mark Hammel entered as Sam Houston’s second reliever coming in with the bases loaded in the seventh. The right-hander induced a 5-4-3 inning-ending double play keeping UTA off the board for the sixth straight frame.
In the bottom half, the Kats provided their final damage, using four more hits to score three runs and increase the lead to 14-1. Grisham drilled a single to right side and advanced to second as freshman Mike Williams singled. Johnson recorded his third hit of the night to load the bases.
UTA reliever Jordan West hurled a wild pitch to bring home another and Mac Odom followed with an infield RBI single. Fregia reached on a fielder’s choice plating Johnson for the Kats’ final run.
Head coach Matt Deggs on the victory…
“We have one of the best atmospheres in the state and for sure the best in the conference. For a Tuesday night game, the students were out there in full force and the stands were packed. I thought we came out and answered the call and got this thing rolling. I was proud of the offense. That is pack baseball as we were able to shorten and stretch the field. Once again, the defense was extremely good.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the start from Dakota Mills…
“We know already what we are going to get when he is on the mound. Tuesdays are like Fridays for us. We are chasing a good RPI. UTA is a lot better than score indicates tonight. We have to know what we get out of our starters and Mills pounds the zone with many fastballs and a good slider and that is what he went out and did tonight.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the success of the top four hitters…
“We just keep getting better and better. The more we function as a unit, we are able to execute and surround the pitcher. It looked like a feeding frenzy as we shortened the field and lengthened the field with a bunch of doubles and triples. It is a very comfortable feeling out there, if we function together.”
Lance Miles on the offensive output…
“Our goal each night is to score every inning. We got close tonight but I think we will get there eventually this year. It was good to see us come out and work on all cylinders.”
Dakota Mills on settling down after the first…
“There is kind of a running joke going about the team where every time I touch the mound there is going to be a home run somewhere in there. Now that it happened, I can just pitch. I cannot say enough about our defense. We had three double plays on the night and big catches. Our bats were amazing tonight. After the first inning all I wanted to do is go out there and pound the zone.”