HOUSTON – The Sam Houston State Bearkats crushed three home runs and completed a league-opening sweep of Houston Baptist with a 7-4 win on Sunday afternoon at Husky Field.
The Kats (10-3, 3-0 SLC) have now swept their league-opening series in each of the last three seasons, and did so on Sunday behind a power surge and a shutdown effort from its bullpen.
Freshman Diego Davila delivered a 3-run home run in the top of the second inning to give the Kats a lead they did not relinquish. He finished 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored for the game and was joined by Gavin Johnson with a multi-hit game with the Bearkat backstop going 2-for-4 with a solo homer and an RBI double as well.
Jack Rogers added a two-run homer in the fifth inning, and the Bearkat pitching staff used four arms to strike out 12 hitters for the game. Landon Ausley got the start and struck out four hitters in 3.2 innings, while Steven Beard got his second win of the season, entering to get a key out in the fourth inning to keep the Kats ahead.
Nick Mikolajchak earned his second save of the weekend and was nearly untouchable in 3.2 frames of relief. The junior right-hander punched out six of the 13 hitters he faced and allowed just one hit for the game.
For HBU (4-11, 0-3 SLC), Kyle Gruller got the start and took the loss despite allowing just two hits and punching out five; however, he walked six hitters in 5.0 innings while each of his hits allowed left the ballpark.
Reliever JT Newton came in midway through the game and struck out six hitters in 4.0 innings, allowing a pair of runs.
Sam Houston will now travel to Ruston, La., for a pair of midweek battles with Louisiana Tech. The two-game series will kick off on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. at J.C. Love Field, and will be followed by a 3 p.m. finale on Wednesday.
HBU got a run across in the first to take an early lead, but the Kats were able to put something together an inning later against Gruller. The Husky starter only gave up one hit in the inning, but it was a big one as Diego Davila crushed his first career home runs with two outs in the inning, a three-run homer to left-center field one batter after an HBU error extended the inning.
The Huskies got one more back on an RBI triple from Jordan Blackmon in the third, but Sam Houston answered in the fifth. Davila opened the inning up with a walk and Jack Rogers followed that up with an opposite-field home run on the first pitch he saw from Gruller, his second homer of the series and third of the week, to push the lead to 5-2.
Sam Houston was able to add on an inning later when Gavin Johnson doubled home Cannon to make it a 6-2 ballgame against reliever JT Newton, but the Kats left a pair of runners on the bases and the Huskies took advantage to cut the lead in half in the bottom of the inning. A leadoff single by Hayden Baker was followed by a hit batter and then a bunt from Trent Franson that included the first Bearkat error of the day, allowing a run to come home. HBU got one more home on an RBI sacrifice bunt from Chase Talbot before Mikolajchak worked his way out of the jam.
Mikolajchak proceeded to strike out two hitters in each of the next two scoreless innings and got another run to work with in the eighth when Johnson blasted his second home run of the season, a solo shot, over the center field wall off of Newton.