HUNTSVILLE – Seth Ballew tossed six strong innings and the Sam Houston State Bearkat offense did enough to make it stand up in a 5-2 win over Stephen F. Austin on Saturday afternoon at Don Sanders Stadium.
The Kats (25-10, 13-1 SLC) maintained their hold on the top spot in the Southland Conference standings with the win, securing their fifth straight series win to kick off conference play, and did so by scoring a pair of runs in both the fourth and fifth innings while the pitching staff held the Lumberjacks (12-22, 4-10 SLC) to just three hits on the day.
Hunter Hearn had three hits on the day and Jaxxon Grisham reached four times in five plate appearances for the Bearkats. Meanwhile, Ballew answered the bell for the second straight week, allowing just one run in his 6.0 innings of work on a blustery day at The Don to run his season record to 3-1.
With the Kats leading 5-1 in the seventh, the ‘Jacks had something going with one down and a pair of runners on; however, Sam Houston turned to Dakota Mills who got out of the jam and proceeded to pitch the final 2.2 innings in just 29 pitches with three strikeouts to earn his league-leading eighth save of the year.
For SFA, freshman Sean Beasley took the loss, allowing four runs in 4.1 innings despite striking out a season-high four hitters. Reliever Cody Adams also pitched well, giving up just a run on three hits in 3.2 frames of relief.
Sam Houston will go for the sweep of the Lumberjacks on Sunday afternoon with first pitch of the finale scheduled for 1:00 p.m. at The Don.
The Kats could not get to Beasley until the fourth, when they touched him up for a couple of runs on a pair of this. A walk to Ben Haefner was followed by consecutive singles by Jordan Cannon and Trey Ochoa, whith Ochoa’s bringing Haefner home for the first run of the game. Riley McKnight then got in on the act, picking up an RBI with a sacrifice fly to center field that scored Cannon.
Ballew turned in a shutdown top of the fifth after being staked to a lead and the Kats rewarded him with two more runs in the fifth. The second of three walks to Grisham led off the inning and paid dividends two batters later when Blake Chisolm tugged a single into right field that made it a 3-0 game. Three batters later Chisolm would come home himself, making it a 4-0 Bearkat advantage on a wild pitch by SFA reliever Cody Adams.
Coach Matt Deggs on the win and the performance of the pitchers …
“I thought we played pretty well today. Seth got us off to a good start and got us through six innings, doing a great job of keeping those guys (SFA) off balance. He had a four-pitch mix going and was able to locate his fastball and then bring in his changeup and curve in off of that, and had a nice cutter for the left-handed hitters. We were able to then get it to Dakota who was able to go for basically the three-inning save at the end.”
Deggs on the offensive performance …
I thought we battled and competed at the plate, and were able to come up with big hits and execute the offense. We were able to execute some hit-and-runs and shorten the field up on a windy day. We just made the plays when we had to. It’s a very resilient bunch who plays hard every day. It’s not all the time pretty, but they just find an excuse to win and that’s what I love about them.”
Deggs on the day as a whole …
“We had a tough first inning, despite having a good start. We executed a hit-and-run, but ended up getting hit by the ball on the way to second when Hunter (Hearn) hit behind the runner, which put an end to probably what was going to be a pretty good inning for us right there. I thought we responded off that well, and that was against their starter who threw the ball pretty well. He was able to sink it underneath our bats, but then we were able to get it going in the middle innings.”