SUGAR LAND – The HBU Huskies hit three home runs and scored five unanswered runs to eliminate the top-seeded Sam Houston State Bearkats from the Southland Conference Tournament, 6-4, on Friday afternoon at Constellation Field.
The Bearkats (39-20) staked starter Riley Gossett to an early 4-1 lead with a four-spot in the second inning against HBU (28-29) starter Brady Batten, but reliever Marshall Herron entered in the third inning and kept the Huskies in it. The HBU offense then delivered a four-spot of their own on the strength of home runs by Jake Pulcheon and Jake Scott to go up 5-4 before adding another run in the eighth.
The loss brings to an end the Kats’ quest for a third straight SLC Tournament title and advances HBU into the semifinals against New Orleans on Friday night.
Gossett was brilliant through 5.1 innings, despite allowing a home run to Tyler Depreta-Johnson to lead off the game. He would hold the Huskies to just one more until the sixth and tying his career high with seven strikeouts before HBU got to him for three consecutive hits, including a game-tying three-run home run by Pulcheon.
Nick Mikolajchak took the loss for Sam Houston after allowing the go-ahead home run to Scott after entering in relief. He would punch out a pair and not allow a hit in 1.2 innings while Dakota Mills closed out his career with the final 2.0 frames, allowing a run on a pair of hits.
Riley McKnight and Jaxxon Grisham each finished with a pair of hits, while Clayton Harp had a hit and drew two of six walks by Bearkat hitters. McKnight would reach in each of his first three plate appearances and pick up three RBI.
For HBU, Herron moved to 3-3 after bridging things from Batten to closer JT Newton with 4.2 innings of scoreless relief, allowing just three hits.
Depreta-Johnson hit a solo home run to lead off the game, but Gossett settled down from there and the Bearkats rewarded him with a lead in the bottom of the second. An infield single and a pair of walks from Batten loaded the bases with two outs and McKnight then unloaded them with a three-run triple off the left-field wall. Blake Chisolm followed that up with a single into right field and the Kats held an early 4-1 lead.
Sam Houston caught a bad break in the fourth when a pinch-hit double by Grisham bounced over the left-center field wall with two outs, forcing McKnight to be held up at third after he had reached on a single. Gossett struck out the side in the fifth and retired the first hitter of the sixth, but then three consecutive hits, including a three-run homer by Pulcheon tied it back up at 4-4. Two batters later Scott took Mikolajchak deep for a solo shot, surging the Huskies back in front 5-4.
The Bearkats could not take advantage of having its first two runners on base in the bottom of the eighth when the Huskies turned a key double play on a bang-bang play at first base off the bat of McKnight. HBU would then take advantage to add an insurance run, pushing home Jack Fitzgerald on a two-out double by Depreta-Johnson to make it a 6-4 game.
Sam had one final chance in the ninth and eventually put runners on the corners after singles by both Grisham and Harp, but Newton was able to get Jack Rogers to ground out to second to finish off the game.