FRISCO – The Sam Houston State Bearkats are making a living off of walk-off wins early in 2019, and pulled another one out of their hat on Saturday afternoon at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
Darien Simms delivered a walk-off RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to give the Bearkats (6-3) an 11-10 win over Nebraska (4-6) on Day 2 of the Frisco Classic, in a game that saw SHSU work back from allowing an eight-run fifth inning.
The Kats led 2-1 after four relatively clean frames amid cold and damp conditions in the DFW metroplex, but found themselves down 9-2 after allowing eight runs on seven hits and an error in the fifth; however, Sam Houston immediately answered with six runs in the bottom half of the inning and then got a two-run home run from Colton Cowser in the sixth to surge ahead.
They held that lead until the top of the ninth when an error set up the Cornhuskers for the tying run, forcing the Kats back to the plate in the bottom half of the inning. The Kats were able to get Jordan Cannon on base to lead off the inning and eventually worked him up to second base, setting the stage for Simms who tugged the first pitch he saw from reliever Ben Klenke into right field for an RBI that gave the Sam Houston third walk-off win of the young season.
Despite temperatures hovering in the low 40s, the Bearkat bats were red hot, collecting 14 hits against the Huskers, who were coming off a scrappy 2-1 win over No. 3 Texas Tech on Friday night. Cannon was one of four Bearkats with multiple hits, finishing 2-for-3 with two RBI and a pair of runs scored.
Cowser’s dinger was his lone hit of the game, but the freshman also scored twice and has now hit safely in all nine games he’s played in as a Bearkat. Clayton Harp scored three times to go with three hits and two RBI, both coming on a two-run double early in SHSU’s six-run fifth.
On the mound, Nick Mikolajchak had struck out three and allowed just one run through the first before running into trouble in the fifth. Matt Dillard entered and did not allow a run in 2.0 frames of relief before handing it off to Cody Wolf who tossed 1.2 innings of relief.
But it was Riley Gossett who got the win, just one day after taking the loss to Mississippi State, despite allowing an unearned run in the top of the ninth.
For Nebraska, Klenke was the losing pitcher, falling to 0-1 on the year. They finished with a dozen hits of their own, led by pinch hitter Carter Cross who had a pinch-hit, three-run triple in the fifth before driving in the tying run in the ninth on a sacrifice fly.
The Bearkats are scheduled to close out the Frisco Classic on Sunday against No. 3 Texas Tech. First pitch is set for 3:00 p.m. at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
A one-out single by Clayton Harp helped the Kats get on the board first in the second inning. A balk and an error by Nebraska starting pitcher Nate Fisher pushed Harp all the way to third, setting it up for Jordan Cannon to shoot an RBI single back up the middle to make it a 1-0 ballgame.
The teams traded runs in the fourth with the Huskers using a double, ground ball and a wild pitch to score Aaron Palensky and knot it up at 1-1. But Harp’s big day continued in the bottom half of the inning as he opened the frame with a single, moved to second base on a bunt by Cannon and then scored the go-ahead run on a single by Gavin Johnson.
Things got hairy in a hurry for the Bearkats in the fifth, despite Mikolajchak getting the first out of the inning on a grounder. But from there the Huskers got going, tying the game on consecutive doubles by Spencer Schwellenbach and Angelo Altavilla before an error on Mikolajchak one batter later allowed the go-ahead run to score. Nebraska followed with four consecutive singles, prompting the Kats to turn to Dillard out of the bullpen; however, Cross delivered the inning’s big hit, a three-run triple to the right-field corner that broke the game open before scoring himself on a passed ball, giving the Huskers a 9-2 advantage.
Despite allowing the big frame, the Kats responded in turn, and quickly. Jack Rogers was hit by the first pitch he saw form Husker reliever Connor Curry and that base runner was followed by a single by McKnight and a walk to Cowser to load the bases. Hearn then delivered an RBI single to center field and Harp followed by lining a two-run double into the right-field corner to make it 9-5. Nebraska then committed errors on each of the next two plays, helping the Kats score three more to draw them back to within 9-8 with plenty of time left in the game.
Dillard set the Huskers down quickly in the sixth and Cowser pushed SHSU back in front in the bottom half of the frame. McKnight got it going by singling to center with one away and Cowser fouled off a pair of 1-2 pitches from Mike Waldron before crushing the sixth pitch of the at-bat out to right field for the first home run by any player in the tournament and putting the Kats in front 10-9.
Dillard and Wolf put up a pair of zeros in the seventh and eighth and the Kats turned to Gossett in the ninth, but a leadoff single by Mojo Hagge and a Bearkat error had Huskers at second and third base just two batters in. The senior righty got a key out to hold the runners before Cross delivered a game-tying sacrifice fly that scored Hagge to make it 10-10.
Cannon was hit by a 2-2 pitch to open up the ninth inning, giving the Kats the base runner they needed in their final at-bat. Kyle Moos bunted him up to second base, but after an intentional walk to Reese Johnson, Klenke got a big strikeout of pinch hitter Jaxxon Grisham for the second out. The Kats then brought up Simms for just his second at-bat of the season and the senior outfielder lined the first pitch of the at-bat through the hole in the right side of the infield to bring Cannon in with the winning run.