HOUSTON – The Sam Houston State Bearkats struggled to get the bats going on Tuesday night, dropping a 2-1 decision to the Houston Cougars at Schroeder Park in the opening game of the Don Sanders Cup series.
The Kats (15-7) had little answer for Cougar (12-11) lefty Clay Aguilar as he held SHSU to just three hits and one run in a career-long 7.0 innings of work, striking out five, to even his season record at 2-2.
Landon Ausley pitched well for the Kats, going 4.0+ innings and punching out four in his third start of the year, but allowed two runs to take the loss and fall to 1-1 on the year. The Bearkat bullpen trio of Steven Beard, James Kuykendall and Cody Wolf combined to toss 4.0 innings of scoreless relief.
The save went to UH’s Fred Villarreal, his fourth of the year, after he entered in the eighth and retired six of the seven batters he faced.
Neither offense was able to do much in the midweek clash, but UH was able to pull out a pair of two-out RBI singles from its bag of tricks, which proved to be just enough to get just its second win over the Bearkats since the Don Sanders Cup series began.
The Bearkats will return home for three games at The Don vs McNeese, beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m. in a game that will be aired on ESPN+. Saturday’s game is set for 3 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m., both which will be aired on the BSN YouTube channel.
Ausley had little issue with the Coogs in the opening inning, but quickly ran into trouble in the second when Derrick Cherry led off the inning with a double. The Bearkat starter responded with a fly out of Lael Lockhart and a strikeout of Kobe Hyland, but could not get past Johnathon Thomas who lined a two-out RBI single back up the middle to plate Cherry and give UH the early lead.
A leadoff hit and a two-out RBI single spelled another scoring inning for the Cougars in the 5th after Aguilar had stranded a man on second base in the top half of the inning. UH’s Brad Burckel got it going by beating out an infield single, prompting the Kats to go to the pen for James Kuykendall. The Coogs then laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runner and Kuykendall got Grayson Padgett to ground out harmlessly, but he could not get past Jared Triolo who shot an RBI single into left field on the first pitch of the at-bat to add to the UH lead.
Sam Houston was able to answer in the fifth as they took advantage of a mistake from Aguilar to get on the board. The UH starter plunked Eric Bohnert to open the inning, giving the Kats a leadoff man on the bases. A sacrifice bunt from Riley McKnight pushed him up 90 feet and two batters later Jordan Cannon lined an RBI single to right field to bring in the first Bearkat run and cut the UH lead to 2-1.