HUNTSVILLE – A seven-run second inning was too much for the Sam Houston State Bearkats to overcome as the Houston Cougars handed them a 12-7 defeat on Tuesday night at Don Sanders Stadium.
The win clinches the Don Sanders Cup series for the Cougars (18-15) for the first time since the series’ inception in 2017 with one game still to be played in Sugar Land on April 23.
Jack Rogers continued his torrid pace with a 3-for-5 night that included a solo home run and an RBI double for the Bearkats (20-10), while Gavin Johnson had two hits and three RBI; however, Houston saw half of its 16 hits in the game go for extra bases, including four home runs in what was its second-biggest offensive output of the season.
Riley Gossett was the first of nine Bearkat arms to see action and took the loss after allowing five runs in just 1.1 innings to fall to 2-2 on the season. Meanwhile, the Kats got to UH starter Ryan Randel for five runs in just 2.1 frames before the Cougars turned to the bullpen who allowed just two runs – one earned – the rest of the way.
For Houston, it was lefty Brayson Hurdsman who got his first win of the season with three strikeouts in 2.1 frames of relief. Devon Roedahl did not allow a run in 2.2 innings before Fred Villareal allowed just one hit in 1.2 scoreless innings to close it out.
Sam Houston held an early lead after an inning of play after back-to-back doubles by Colton Cowser and Jack Rogers got them on the board and a sacrifice fly by Hunter Hearn gave them an early 2-1 lead.
But that was short lived as Kobe Hyland led off the second inning with the first of the four Cougar home runs, knotting it back up at 2-2. The first of two Bearkat errors compounded things and led to five unearned runs in the inning, including a two-run homer by Tyler Bielamowicz that capped the seven-run frame.
Sam Houston answered with three runs in the third, getting a two-run single by Johnson off of Hurdsman that cut the UH lead to 8-5. The Kats had a chance to cut even further into the lead in the inning with runners on second and third with less than two outs, but Hurdsman was able to get a pair of grounders to end the threat.
A solo home run by Houston’s Joe Davis followed in the fourth, but the Kats were able to get closer on an RBI ground out by Johnson and a UH error in the fifth, making it a 9-7 game with four innings to play.
But the Kats’ offense went quiet the rest of the way against Roedahl and Villareal, while the Cougar offense continued to add on with two more runs in the seventh and another on a solo homer by Jared Triolo in the eighth.
The Bearkats will now begin the second half of Southland Conference play this weekend when they head to Nacogdoches to open up a three-game series at Stephen F. Austin on Friday. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. at Jaycees Field.