WACO – The Sam Houston State Bearkats had their chances, but could not quite overcome a six-run fifth as the No. 18 Baylor Bears picked up a 9-6 win on Tuesday at Baylor Ballpark.
Sam Houston (22-12) had won six games in a row on the Bears’ (25-10) home field, but could not take advantage of early opportunities, leaving eight runners on base in the first five frames and 11 for the game. They stood toe-to-toe with the nationally-ranked Bears until the fifth when Baylor erupted for six runs on six hits – four for extra bases – to break the game open.
The Kats still finished with 15 hits, including three hits and an RBI from Riley McKnight. Clayton Harp also delivered a pair of singles, making him the second Bearkat this season to reach the 200-hit plateau for his career. Jordan Cannon drove in a pair on two hits, including his second home run of the year. Chase Cryer had three hits and two RBI, including a homer and two doubles.
Seth Ballew got the start after a short outing on Sunday and took the loss, despite allowing just two of the Bears’ nine runs, to fall to 2-3 on the year. Meanwhile, Baylor starter Jacob Ashkinos allowed six hits, but just one run in 4.0 innings – his longest outing of the season. That was enough to pick up the win, his first of the year, in a predetermined effort.
The Bearkats will now trek to the northeast for a key conference series at Central Arkansas. Sam Houston will play three games in Conway against the Bears, beginning Thursday at Bear Stadium.
It did not take long for Sam Houston to make noise as Colton Cowser tripled off the center field batter’s eye on the very first pitch of the game and two batters later scored on a sacrifice fly by Jordan Cannon to put the Kats in front 1-0. But Baylor’s Nick Loftin answered with a leadoff double in the home half of the inning and two batters later the Bears tied it up on a bloop double off the bat of Davis Wendzel that dropped just inside the right-field line.
The Kats put a pair of men on base in the top of the second, but could not do anything with the threat. Baylor then took the lead in its half of the frame when Mack Mueller shot a double into the right-center field gap on an 0-2 pitch to bring in Cole Haring from first base after he had reached on a one-out single.
The Bearkats put two more runners on in each of the next three innings, but came up empty each time. Baylor’s Richard Cunningham saved two runs by tracking down a shot from Cowser in the left-center field gap in the fourth that saved two runs, then one inning later the Kats had runners on the corners with just one out but had a double-steal try snuffed out before coming up empty-handed again.
Baylor then took advantage of the Kats’ empty innings, breaking the game open with a six-run bottom of the fifth. After a leadoff single by Cunningham, Wendzel hit a moonshot homer over the left-field fence. A double by Shea Langeliers was followed by an RBI single from Haring, then Mueller and Chase Wehsener drove in three more with doubles of their own, giving Baylor a commanding 8-1 lead.
The Kats had a chance to get back in it in the sixth, getting a run home on back-to-back doubles by Chase Cryer and McKnight. Jackson Loftin singled to put runners on the corners for the top of the lineup, but the Kats stranded two runners on the bases once again as BU reliever Hayden Kettler retired the next two he faced.
Baylor got that run back on an RBI double by Haring in the sixth, but then the Kats showed off their power in the seventh against Baylor reliever Tyler Thomas. Sam Houston got solo homers by Cannon and Hunter Hearn to cut the lead to 9-4 before Cryer’s second double of the game brought in another run to trim the lead to just four. But the Bears went back to the pen for Brooke Helmer who retired the next two hitters to prevent any further damage.