SUGAR LAND – One big swing was all it took for No. 8 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to hand the top-seeded Sam Houston State Bearkats a 2-1 defeat in the opening round of the Southland Conference Tournament on Wednesday afternoon at Constellation Field.
Bearkat starter (31-24) Hayden Wesneski scattered six hits through 6.2 innings before Enrique Sanchez Jr. managed to just clear the fence in left field for the only Islander (31-24) runs of the game.
The loss drops the Bearkats down into the bottom of the bracket and will force them to play an elimination game at 12:00 p.m. on Thursday against the loser of No. 4 Incarnate Word and No. 5 McNeese.
AMCC used six pitchers on the day and kept the Bearkat bats mostly quiet with SHSU not getting its first hit of the game until a solo homer from Gavin Johnson in the bottom of the fourth.
Wesneski was saddled with the loss, falling to 8-4 on the year, striking out three before handing the game off to Dominic Robinson. His three strikeouts gave him 110 for the season, which is second all-time for a single season in SHSU history. Dominic Robinson came in to toss the final 2.1 innings, retiring all seven hitters he faced, thee on strikes.
Islander starter John Gaddis allowed just the one hit to Johnson and struck out four in 4.0 innings before the bullpen went to work. Leo Perez picked up the win with 1.1 innings of scoreless relief before David Worrell tossed the final 2.0 frames, striking out two, for his seventh save of the year.
The Kats had a great chance to get on the board in the third when Gaddis issued 1-out walks to both Riley McKnight and Jordan Cannon, but the Islander lefty was able to coax a pair of fly balls out of both Colton Cowser and Clayton Harp to keep the game scoreless.
An inning later the Kats finally registered their first hit off of Gaddis, and made it count when Gavin Johnson blasted a solo homer through a 20-mph wind and into the bullpen beyond the right-center field fence to put SHSU on top 1-0.
BYE BYE BASEBALL!!— Sam Houston Baseball (@BearkatsBSB) May 22, 2019
Gavin Johnson goes thru the wind and over the fence for the HR to put the Kats up 1-0 in the bottom of the 4th. #EatEmUpKats
🎙 https://t.co/cE0ezeY0mh pic.twitter.com/AU5AbBIodD
SHSU could not take advantage of a bases-loaded opportunity in the sixth and the Islanders managed to finally get a big hit in the top of the seventh when Sanchez hit a 2-run homer – his first homer of the year – with two outs in the inning to put AMCC in front for the first time in the game.
The Kats had one more chance to tie it up in the eighth when an error off the bat of Harp and a walk to Hunter Hearn put the lead off men on. A grounder by Johnson moved both into scoring position, but Islander reliever David Worrell responded with strikeouts of both pinch hitter Eric Bohnert and Jackson Loftin to keep AMCC up 2-1.