Game 37
Tuesday, April 18 • 7 p.m. • Sugar Land, Texas • Constellation Field

Sam Houston State (25-11) vs. Houston (25-10)
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SUGAR LAND – Sam Houston State opens its inaugural game of the Don Sanders Cup on Tuesday, facing off against Houston in the first of three games over the next three weeks. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. from Constellation Field, home of the Sugar Land Skeeters.

Tickets are on sale for $11 by calling the Sugar Land Skeeters ticket office at (281) 240-4487 or by visiting SugarLandSkeeters.com. Gates will open at 6 p.m. Sam Houston will be the designated visiting team and occupy the first base dugout.

DON SANDERS CUP
2017 marks the first season of the Don Sanders Cup between Sam Houston and Houston. Sanders, a Houston philanthropist and Sam Houston alumnus who has made contributions to both universities, is the namesake of the Bearkat baseball home, Don Sanders Stadium, and donated $1 million to establish an endowment fund to enhance the baseball program.

The teams will play again next Tuesday on 6:30 p.m. at Houston. The two teams will wrap their three-game set on May 2 at 6:30 p.m. in Huntsville. The winner of the series will receive the Sanders Cup trophy. 

NO STRANGER TO CONSTELLATION FIELD
Tuesday marks the first return to Constellation Field for Sam Houston since capturing the Southland Conference Tournament championship at the venue with a 7-4 victory against Southeastern Louisiana on May 29, 2016.

The Bearkats are 8-5 all-time at the facility with each result coming at the league tournament. Constellation Field has hosted the Southland Tournament three times (2013, 2015, 2016) and will serve as the site for the event again from May 24-27, 2017.

INSIDE THE MATCHUP VS. HOUSTON
Tuesday’s meeting will be the 161st overall between Sam Houston and Houston. The overall series is the longest played in the Bearkats’ program history.

The Cougars own a slight 81-79 advantage in the series and 6-4 edge in the last 10 matchups. Seven of the last 10 matchups have been decided by three runs or fewer including three one-run games.

Tuesday marks only the third neutral site game between the two programs and first since 1987. That season, the first in NCAA Division I for the Bearkats, the Cougars took a pair of matchups at the NCAA Austin Regional.

The programs split two games a season ago with Houston notching a 4-3 victory in Houston on April 26 and Sam Houston drawing even with a 4-0 win one week later (May 3) in Huntsville.

SAM HOUSTON IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS
Sam Houston ranks in the top-25 nationally in nine statistical categories. The Kats are fourth in triples (19), fifth in triples per game (0.53), fifth in sacrifice bunts (39), 12th in walks allowed per nine innings (2.69), 15th in stolen bases (63), 16th in stolen bases per game (1.75), 18th in on base percentage (.403), 19th in strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.93) and 22nd in batting average (.306).

QUOTEABLES:
Head coach Matt Deggs on expectations entering last 20 games of the season…

“Anytime it heats up and you get towards the latter part of the year, generally offense is going to become the name of the game. We’ve got to continue to eliminate walks and hit batters, dominate routine plays and continue to get our swings off with direction. If we can do those things and execute offensively, I like where we’re at.”

Head coach Matt Deggs’ thoughts heading into Tuesday’s matchup…
“We’ve just got to go out and play good baseball. I know we’ll be excited play especially against a quality opponent at a great venue like the Skeeters ballpark. We just have to come out and play our game and be ready to go.”

Head coach Matt Deggs on the challenge of facing Houston…
“They are extremely well coached. They do a great job of recruiting. They have a lot of really good players. Frank Anderson is one of the best pitching guys around. They can pitch it extremely well. They are going to challenge the strike zone. Offensively, they have a chance to hurt you if you make a mistake. You can’t give them free outs and you have to be ready to compete when you step into the box.”

Head coach Matt Deggs on playing for the Sanders Cup…
“Todd Whitting, the head coach at U of H, approached me about it and I thought it was a fantastic idea. Don Sanders is somebody that means so much to not only our program but U of H as well. His son Bret went to U of H and Don went here. It was just a great way for us to come together collaboratively and honor the man and us be able to play three times which helps both programs.”