HUNTSVILLE – After a pair of walk-off wins on Saturday, the Sam Houston State Bearkats used a six-run eighth inning to ice the game and complete a weekend sweep of the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns with a 9-2 win on Sunday at Don Sanders Stadium.
The Bearkats (5-1) owned the late innings over the weekend, scoring 21 of their 25 runs in the final three frames, and Sunday was no different. Sam Houston led 3-2 after six tightly-contested frames, but then exploded for six runs in bottom of the eighth inning, capped by Clayton Harp’s third home run of the weekend.
Harp finished 3-for-5 for the game, driving in four runs, while Gavin Johnson reached all four times he came to the plate and had an RBI as well as part of a Bearkat offense that torched the Cajuns (1-6) for 13 hits in the game.
Nick Mikolajchak got the start and pitched well, working out of a first-inning jam to log 5.1 innings with just two runs – one earned – allowed on five hits and three strikeouts. He gave way to Brad Demco in the sixth ant the lefty got both hitters he faced, including a strikeout before the Kats regained the lead for good, giving him the win.
From there Riley Gossett took over and allowed just two hits in the final 3.0 innings to earn the save.
Meanwhile, the Cajuns went through five arms, but it was reliever Michael Leaumont who took the loss, allowing a pair of runs on five hits in 3.0 innings. For the day the UL pitchers struggled to put away the Bearkat batters, finishing with just one strikeout while issuing five free passes.
The sweep is just the beginning of a challenging opening stretch of the season for the Bearkats that includes meetings with ranked opponents in four of its next five games. Sam Houston will next head to Austin for a Tuesday meeting with Texas on the Longhorn Network before returning home to host TCU at The Don on Wednesday.
SHSU will then head north to take on Mississippi State, Nebraska and Texas Tech at Dr Pepper Ballpark over the weekend as part of the Frisco Classic.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Mikolajchak allowed a walk and double to the first two hitters of the game in the opening inning, but put it on cruise control after that, getting out of the jam unscathed and going on to retire each of the next 10 hitters he faced overall. The Bearkat offense rewarded him in the third when it took advantage of a leadoff walk to Eric Bohnert with an RBI single by Harp.
Louisiana answered in the fifth, but got some help from the Bearkats in doing so. Sam Houston made both of its errors in the game in the inning before recording an out, moving Jordan Wiley all the way to third base where O’Neal Lochridge was able to bring him home on a double into the right-center field gap.
An inning later the Cajuns surged their way ahead with Hunter Kasuls sparking the inning with a leadoff single and a swipe of second base. A ground ball moved him up a bag and set up Daniel Lahare who shot an RBI single into right field to give UL a 2-1 lead.
After Demco closed out the inning, the Kats immediately answered in the bottom half of the sixth when Johnson drove home Colton Cowser with a one-out RBI single of his own to knot it up at 2-2. Singles by Jaxxon Grisham and Diego Davila followed, loading the bases for Bohnert who worked a full-count walk to push home Johnson and get the Kats back in front by a run.
After Gossett kept the Cajuns scoreless in the seventh and eighth, Sam Houston’s offense put the game away in its final trip to the plate. Singles by Hunter Hearn and Johnson quickly had runners on the corners and Grisham picked up an RBI with a sac fly to right field, providing what looked to be a key insurance run. But the Kats were not done as they got two more home when Riley McKnight scored on a passed ball and Davila scored on a passed ball. Mac Odom also picked up an RBI single that made it 5-2 and set up Harp who delivered the dagger with a three-run blast to right field to make it a 9-2 game.