ABILENE – Sam Houston State poured it on early and never looked back, defeating Abilene Christian, 14-3 to secure its 12th-straight Southland Conference series victory.
The Bearkats (19-8, 8-0 SLC), who moved into first in the league standings on Friday, continued their best conference start in program history, scoring in five different innings including a six-run sixth in support of a career afternoon from starter Seth Ballew.
Ballew tossed a season-high 7 2-3 innings, permitting only three hits and a pair of runs. The left-handed sophomore fanned three and walked five while picking up his third-consecutive victory.
Sam Houston puts its leadoff runner aboard five times and batting .389 (7 of 18) with runners in scoring position. Blake Chisolm led the charge, finishing a home run shy of the cycle. The designated hitter put a drove midway up the wall in the ninth for his second triple and finished 5 for 6 with four runs, two RBIs and four extra-base hits.
Andrew Fregia totaled four RBIs in a 2 for 4 performance, reaching base three times. Bryce Johnson, who moved into a tie for 10th in program history with his 51st career stolen base, went 2 for 5 with a pair of RBIs and a run. Lance Miles also posted two RBIs with a 1-for-4 afternoon.
The squads return at 5:45 p.m. for the second game of the doubleheader. Sam Houston is seeking its third-straight sweep in Southland Conference action and fourth of the season.
HOW IT HAPPENED
For a second-consecutive game, Sam Houston jumped out to a 2-0 advantage in the first inning. Bryce Johnson and Clayton Harp worked a pair of walks before Blake Chisolm singled and Andrew Fregia ripped a two-RBI double into left field.
Sam Houston’s athleticism continued to pay dividends in the second, adding another as Bryce Johnson swiped second and took third as the ball skipped to the backstop, allowing Taylor Beene to come home. The stolen base was Johnson’s 51st for his career, moving the junior into a tie for 10th in program lore.
Blake Chisolm belted a triple to right center to lead off the third. With one down, Chisolm broke for home and Robie Rojas executed the squeeze bunt, grounding the high pitch back to the mound for a 4-0 lead.
With two quick outs in the fourth, the Bearkats found a way to produce another big inning. Mac Odom worked the six-pitch walk and stole second, the Bearkats 11th swiped bag of the series, and stood there as Harp reached on another free pass.
Chisolm followed with his third hit of the game, fighting off a 0-2 pitch to place a ball perfectly inside the left-field line for an RBI double, scoring Odom and advancing Harp to third. Fregia added his second two-RBI double, rocketing a double to left field for a 7-0 lead.
The Wildcats (9-15, 1-10 SLC) grabbed a run each in the fourth and fifth but Ballew limited further damage, stranding a pair in the fifth as the sophomore induced a fly out to center. Ballew did not allow his first hit until the fourth as Luis Trevino sent a one-out homer into the bullpen in right field.
Sam Houston exploded for sixth runs in the sixth, sending 11 hitters to the plate. Chisolm notched his third extra-base hit, sending an RBI double into left field to plate Odom, who reached on an error. After walks to Fregia and Rojas walked, Miles lined a two-run single into right field.
With the bases loaded for a second time, Johnson sent a two-out, two-run single into right field. Odom reached for the second time in the frame, hitting a high chopper to third for the 13-2 lead. Pinch-hitter Nate VanDyke recorded a groundout in the ninth, scoring Chisolm, who belted his second triple of the game to lead off the frame.
Head coach Matt Deggs on the performance from Seth Ballew…
“He went out and set an incredible tone for us. He filled up the strikezone with three pitches and he got better as the game went along. He got us into the eighth. I thought we defended it extremely well again and the offense did their thing. They spun the game a little bit.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the afternoon from Blake Chisolm…
“I was real proud of him. With the conditions, such as the wind, we’re having to run some speed out there and he was the odd-man out yesterday. Hunter Hearn was the odd-man out this morning just because we like the matchup with their starter. It paid dividends for us.”