Kats’ Strand 12 Runners, Upset Bid Falls Short Against No. 10 Baylor

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The Sam Houston State Bearkat baseball team fell to the No. 10 Baylor Bears 6-5 Tuesday night at Don Sanders Stadium.

The Kats started junior pitcher Dakota Mills, Mills made his third start of the season, as he was 1-1 coming into the game with his most recent outing being a road win against the Texas State Bobcats last Tuesday. The Bears started redshirt junior Alex Phillips on the mound.

Errors got the Bearkats in some early trouble, as a first inning error by senior shortstop Taylor Beene allowed a runner to advance to second. The Bears could not capitalize on the opportunity, but it was a sign of things to come for the Bearkats.

In the third inning, a throwing error by Mills while trying to get a runner to hold at first, advanced a runner to second. Baylor’s senior catcher Matt Menard then scored that runner on a two out RBI single.

However, the Bearkats were able to get back into the game.

SHSU loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth and were able to capitalize. Junior designated hitter Blake Chisolm was the first to get the Bearkats on the board, as a sacrifice fly brought home junior outfielder Bryce Johnson. Senior catcher Robie Rojas then hit another sacrifice fly to left field, which brought home sophomore Riley McKnight to bring the score to 2-1 after 4 innings.

The fifth inning brought more trouble for the Bearkats, as a two out single by Menard got things going for the Bears. Junior outfielder Kameron Esthay then hit a high fly ball that just cleared the left field wall for a two run home run, giving the Bears a 3-2 lead.

The Bearkats were able to threaten in the bottom of the fifth, getting runners on second and third with two outs. However, they were not able to capitalize. The Bears were able to add to their lead in the top of the sixth, as after they loaded the bases with two outs. Freshman catcher Shea Langeliers singled to left to bring home two Bears, making the score 5-2.

The Bearkats responded with three straight hits from senior second baseman Lance Miles, senior short stop Andrew Fregia and Chisolm to load the bases for Rojas. He then hit a sacrifice fly to right field to bring home Miles. The next hitter, sophomore left fielder Clayton Harp was able to single to left center and bring in Fregia. After the added run, a pitch hit Johnson with the bases loaded to tie the game at five going into the seventh inning.

“The approach the whole time was to get on base,” Johnson said. “If everybody gets on base, we can make havoc, and that’s what he did.”

The Bears were able to strike back and break the tie in the top of the seventh as a bases loaded walk by freshman pitcher Brad Demco brought home a run for the Bears. With the score at 6-5, the Bearkats threatened to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh. The Bearkats were able to get a runner to third with two outs, but to no avail the Bearkats could not bring him home.  After pitching a clean frame in the top of the eighth, SHSU had their last best chance to tie or win the game in the bottom of the eighth. They loaded the bases with two outs, and had their cleanup hitter Fregia at the plate. However, the Kats failed to capitalize as Fregia hit into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.

The Bearkats were able to retire the Bears quickly in the top of the ninth, but they were not able to come through with the tying run in the bottom of the inning. The failure to convert in the eighth really was the final dagger for the Bearkats.

The inability to convert with two outs was really the story of the game for SHSU, as they stranded 12 runners in the game.

“I thought we had our opportunities tonight, but we just didn’t capitalize,” head coach Matt Deggs said. “We strand 12 [runners], walked four, hit another three, and they were opportunistic with what we gave them.”

Up next, the Bearkats will begin conference play with a three game series against the Lamar Cardinals on Friday. The Bearkats have faced a tough non-conference schedule and are hoping that their tough slate will help them in Southland play.

First pitch for Friday night is set for 6:30 p.m. at Don Sanders Stadium.