HUNTSVILLE – Sam Houston State pounced on Incarnate Word for a pair of four-run frames, capturing the first game of the Friday's doubleheader, 10-4 at Don Sanders Stadium.
With the win, the Bearkats (35-20, 18-11 Southland) secured their 18th-straight home three-game Southland Conference series win. The victory pulled Sam Houston into a tie for third in the league standings with Houston Baptist, who dropped its second straight to Stephen F. Austin.
Sam Houston was led at the plate by Andrew Fregia, who finished 3 for 5 with four RBIs and belted a two-run home run. The Kats totaled 15 hits from 10 different players including Riley McKnight who added three hits and two runs in the leadoff spot.
Hayden Wesneski scattered six hits, permitting two runs while walking one and striking out another across seven innings. The freshman moved to 9-2 on the season and made way for Kyle Backhus, who tossed the final 2 1-3 innings, allowing two hits and as many runs while fanning four and walking one.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Incarnate Word (20-35, 8-21 SLC) took the early lead in the third using three-straight singles, all coming with two down, to jump out to a 2-0 lead. The Bearkats answered in the bottom half as Hunter Hearn took his first pitch to the warning track in center for a leadoff double and scored two hitters later on a Beene groundout.
Sam Houston struck for four in the fifth highlighted by a two-run triple from Bryce Johnson, plating Jaxxon Grisham (walk) and McKnight (single) to put the Bearkats ahead 3-2. One batter later, Fregia tagged a two-run homer over the wall in left, his seventh of the season.
The Bearkats tacked on four more in the sixth, sending all nine hitters to the plate while recording four hits. Beene brought home the first, laying down a bunt that sailed over the head of pitcher Bernie Martinez to plate Blake Chisolm (hit by pitch). After a wild pitch plated another, Fregia rifled a two-run double into left center, providing Sam Houston a 9-2 advantage.
Sam Houston added another insurance run in the eighth as Hunter Southerland lined a single into left, marking the fourth time in the last five outings against Incarnate Word that the squad has produced double-digit runs.
Head coach Matt Deggs on the victory and start to the series…
“This is coming along at the right time for us. It feels good to pitch it, make routine plays and get big hits. The offense has been tremendous going back to Tuesday night at A&M. That kind of got us rolling and we have ridden that wave into the series and gotten off to a really good start.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the importance of this week…
“Timing is everything. That's what this game is about, especially at our level. There's a lot psychologically that goes into this too. We knew we should have been playing for something at the tail end and we're not so it's good to see these guys respond and work to get better.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the team playing complete baseball…
“We've had some ups and downs and ridden some waves this season. You have to go back to a year ago too. These guys understand what they're capable of and what this time of year means. It's easy to overlook bits and pieces of the process to get to this point. Now that we're here, I truly believe this is our time of year and we're ready to go.”
Riley McKnight on the team playing hot at the end of the season…
“We've been up and down. We left a lot of runners on base but our sticks are coming alive. At A&M we were playing loose and having fun. We really just got confident. We have just been playing fast and loose really. That's been the motto all year. We took that to heart on Tuesday at A&M and took that into this series.”
Andrew Fregia on his two-run homer and the offensive production…
“I was just looking for something elevated. I had two pretty throw-away at bats in the first two and I was just looking to put a good swing on the ball and that's what I did. We're just clicking on all cylinders. Hopefully we can keep that rolling.”