LAKE CHARLES, La. – The Sam Houston State Bearkats built up a 4-0 lead, but could not hold off Southeastern Louisiana, walked off with a 7-6 win in nine innings to eliminate the Kats from the Southland Conference Tournament on Thursday afternoon at Joe Miller Ballpark.
The Kats (24-33) held a 4-0 lead going into the bottom of the sixth, but the Lions (38-20) scored three times in the sixth and then tied the game twice on homers in both the seventh and eighth innings before a walk-off hit by Madison Watson gave the Lions their first and last lead of the game.
It was the second time in the tournament the Lions defeated the Bearkats after doing so, 7-0, on Tuesday. They will now advance into the semifinals of the league tournament to take on top-seeded Nicholls for a spot in the championship series against the host, McNeese.
Megan Crosby, Megan McDonald and Codi Carpenter had two hits apiece, accounting for six of the nine Bearkat hits in the game. Crosby picked up a pair of RBI, while Tiffany Thompson had her eighth homer of the season.
Lindsey McLeod was dominant through the first five innings, allowing just a bunt single, before the Lions finally got to her late in the game. She finished with 8.0 innings pitched and five strikeouts, but allowed six runs and issued four walks. For the tournament she struck out 21 hitters in 22.0 innings.
Daby Fitzpatrick took the loss despite facing just three hitters in the game. She entered to open the ninth and gave up a leadoff single to Ali McCoy and a sacrifice bunt before Watson delivered the game-winner.
The Kats got their first run of the day in unusual fashion in the fourth when McDonald slid in safely at the plate on a dropped infield fly off the bat of Megan Crosby. An inning later the Kats added on in a more conventional way when Thompson unloaded on a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the inning for a solo home run off of Hayes, her eighth of the season, that put the Kats up 2-0.
An inning later Sam Houston added on to its lead once again in the sixth, pushing across another pair of runs. A double by Carpenter was followed two batters later by an RBI double from Crosby, scoring pinch runner Karlee Canada. Katie Andrie then got another run home with a ground ball that scored Bailey White, giving the Kats a 4-0 lead with just six outs to go.
But the Lions were not done. SLU had just a bunt single through the first five innings, but took advantage of a pair of walks in the sixth when Rebecca Skains doubled home a pair of runs with two outs to cut the lead in half. Mattie Ort followed that up with another double to left field, scoring Skains and making it just a 4-3 game as play moved on to the seventh.
Carpenter gave the Kats a big insurance run in the top of the seventh, roping a single into the right-field corner that scored Tiffany Thompson to push the lead back to 5-3. But it took just two batters into the bottom of the inning for the Lions to finally draw even as a leadoff bloop single by Ali McCoy was followed by a two-run homer by Ella Manzer, just her second of the year, that squared things up at 5-5.
The scoring continued into the eighth when Sam Houston took advantage of an error to re-take the lead on a ground ball by Samantha Belongia, but despite having runners on second and third after going up 6-5, the Kats could not tack on and it would be costly.
McLeod retired the first hitter of the bottom of the inning, but then surrendered another game-tying homer, this one a solo shot to Mahalia Gibson, that re-tied the game at 6-6. Sam Houston then could not take advantage of a leadoff walk in the ninth, setting the stage for the Lions to walk it off in the bottom of the inning.
• The game concluded the coaching career of head coach Bob Brock after 17 years at the helm of the Bearkats and 34 in collegiate head coaching. He closes out his career with a 431-485 record at Sam Houston, its all-time winningest coach by a margin of 206 victories. His final career record stands at 1,126 wins and 776 losses.
• With Lindsey McLeod’s five strikeouts against SLU, she finished 2018 with a single-season school record of 222 punchouts. She will enter her senior season with 456 strikeouts for her career and will need 72 more to tie the career record of 528 set by Brandi Crnkovic.