AUSTIN – Sam Houston State’s calling card has been producing with two outs this season. On Tuesday at Texas, the Longhorns took a page from the Bearkats’ book.
Texas produced five runs with two down in the third, defeating Sam Houston, 8-1, while snapping the Bearkats’ road-winning streak at eight games, one shy of matching the program record of nine, set between the 1976-77 seasons.
The Bearkats (20-9) were held to three hits, matching a season low, and were unable to solve Texas starter Kyle Johnston (2-1) who allowed one hit and a run in five innings. The right-hander fanned four and walked a pair before a trio of Texas (20-12) bullpen mates followed suit.
Sam Houston returns home for three games this weekend, hosting Nicholls beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m. The Bearkats are 9-0 in Southland Conference play and will seek their 13th-straight league series win dating to a season ago.
HOW IT HAPPENED
After a pair of efficient innings, Texas got to Sam Houston starter Dakota Mills (3-2) in the third. The Longhorns connected for six hits including five with two outs, jumping out to a 5-0 lead.
After taking a 1-0 advantage, Travis Jones worked a nine-pitch walk and the ‘horns followed with three straight RBI singles including a two-run base knock from Kacy Clemens into right. Mills exited after the third, marking his shortest outing this season while allowing a career-high five earned runs.
The Kats struck back in the fourth as Lance Miles was plunked with the full-count pitch and came around to score two hitters later as Hunter Hearn lined a two-out single up the middle, extending his hitting streak to 12 games while trimming the deficit to 5-1.
After Riley Cooper entered on the mound, posting a 1-2-3 frame in the bottom half, Sam Houston threatened in the fifth. Jaxxon Grisham drew a four-pitch walk and moved to second on a groundout. Taylor Beene worked the eight-pitch free pass, putting runners on first and second before Bryce Johnson tested Texas starter Kyle Johnston but struck out the ninth pitch of the at bat.
Cooper set down seven straight Texas hitters in a row before Michael Cantu ended the streak, depositing a 2-1 pitch over the left field wall, upping the Longhorns’ lead to 6-1 with the solo homer. The long ball was the first allowed by Cooper, who entered with 11 2-3 innings to his name this season.
Andrew Fregia and Grisham led off the seventh with singles and the Kats put runners on the corners as Fregia took third on the Robie Rojas flyout. Then, with Beene at the plate, Texas reliever Chase Shugart faked the throw to third and fired to first, picking off Grisham. Fregia was left stranded at third as Beene swung and missed on the full-count pitch.
The Longhorns added some insurance in the eighth, tagging reliever Nick Mikolajchak for two runs on three hits, extending their lead to 8-1. The Kats were held to one run for the third time this season and first time in 23 games since dropping a 6-1 decision to No. 13 Louisiana on Feb. 25.
Opening thoughts from head coach Matt Deggs…
“We fell behind the eight-ball against a quality arm. When that happens, it’s going to be a grind on you. I thought Dakota went out and competed as hard as he could. They got a two-out squibber that fell in for the first run and we weren’t able to stop the bleeding. I thought Riley Cooper came in and did a great job stabilizing things for us. We just could never cash in. They were the better ballclub tonight and they got us. We’ll be back, though.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on not converting in the middle innings…
“I think pitching had a lot to do with that. They pitched us very well tonight. We obviously didn’t play our best baseball. We still came out of here with an error-free game and I thought we defended it pretty well. We had some long at-bats and drew a few walks. We just couldn’t find anything to fall. We couldn’t string anything together to get momentum.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on turning the page towards Nicholls…
“We have to flip the script and change gears real quick. We did that in the dugout after the game. We are moving on to Nicholls. They are a very scrappy team and are very well coached. They will be coming in and looking to get after us. We have to pour all our energy into game one.”