NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Privateers forced extra innings with a run in the ninth and then got a walk-off home run from Collin Morrill to even the series with a 6-4 win in 11 innings over Sam Houston State on Saturday afternoon at Maestri Field.
Sam Houston (14-6, 6-2 SLC) never trailed until the game’s final at-bat, but could not capitalize on a pair of early scoring chances as UNO (13-9, 3-5 SLC) hung around before eventually picking up the win.
The Kats were out-hit by a 15-7 margin as the Privateers showcased each of their top arms with bullpen ace Reeves Martin picking up his third win of the year after striking out four of the six hitters he faced in 2.0 innings of work.
Meanwhile, the Bearkats went through five arms before turning the game over to Nick Mikolajchak who went the final 3.1 innings. He fell to 0-2 despite punching out four hitters and working out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the bottom of the ninth after UNO had tied the game.
No Bearkat had a multi-hit game with only Jack Rogers and Colton Cowser picking up extra-base hits. Cowser’s game in a crucial spot early in the game, clearing the bases with a three-run double that gave the Kats a 3-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Rogers had a double and reached base three times, while Jordan Cannon reached twice, despite seeing his hit streak come to an end at a career-high 12 games.
The Kats and Privateers will wrap up the series finale on Sunday afternoon at Maestri Field. First pitch is set for 1:00 p.m. and can be followed via live stats and on Twitter by following @BearkatsBSB. An audio and video broadcast are each available at UNOPrivateers.com.
Sam Houston squandered a chance to take an early lead in the top of the first, leaving the bases loaded. They loaded the bases on a pair of singles and a walk, but were in danger of coming up empty once again until Colton Cowser outlasted UNO starter Chris Turpin and cleared the bases with a three-run double on 11th pitch of the at-bat to put the Kats in front 3-0.
UNO got a two runs back in the fifth when Darren Willis delivered a two-run double with two outs in the bottom of the second inning, but SHSU relievers Matt Dillard and Dominic Robinson were able to keep the Kats in front until the fifth when Luther Woullard knotted it up at 3-3 with an RBI single.
Things stayed relatively quiet until the eighth when Sam Houston was able to get to reliever John Barr for a run and re-take the lead. The rally was initiated when Hunter Hearn delivered a one-out single and promptly stole second base. Clayton Harp then drew a walk with Hearn advancing to third on a wild pitch to end the at-bat. A second wild pitch of the inning followed with Cannon at the plate, allowing Hearn to score the go-ahead run.
Mikolajchak responded with a clean bottom of the eighth, but things got tricky in a hurry in the ninth. The Privateers opened the inning with three consecutive singles, the third coming from Woullard and scoring Salo Iza to re-tie the game at 4-4. The Kats then chose to intentionally walk Gaige Howard to load the bases with nobody out, and that strategy worked out as Mikolajchak responded by getting a strikeout of Morrill and then consecutive outs off the bats off pinch hitter Robert Fabelo and Darren Willis to send the game to extra innings.
Martin and Mikolajchak each put up zeros in the 10th and Martin went 1-2-3 through the Bearkat lineup in the 11th, setting things up for the Privateers to walk it off in the 11th. Howard opened the inning up by reaching on the first Bearkat error of the game, but it was Morrill who would be the hero, golfing the first pitch he saw over the right-field fence for his third home run of the season to win the game.