SUGAR LAND – A big inning cost the Sam Houston State Bearkats once again on Tuesday as Houston handed the Kats a 9-3 loss in the finale of the Don Sanders Cup series at Constellation Field.
The Kats (22-16) held a 3-2 lead going into the bottom of the fourth, but Houston (25-16) responded with six runs and cruised from there. Sam Houston had at least one base runner in each of the first eight innings, but had just six hits for the game, drawing five free passes from Cougar pitching.
Sean Bretz picked up the win for Houston with 3.0 innings of scoreless relief, his first win of the year. Meanwhile, Steven Beard got his first start for the Kats and put up a pair of zeros, but allowed four runs in 3.1 frames with four of SHSU’s six punchouts.
Hunter Hearn had two of the Kats’ six hits and a pair of RBI, while Jack Rogers delivered his team-leading eighth homer of the year.
For the Coogs, Joe Davis and Tyler Biealmowicz each had three RBI apiece.
Following the game, Rogers, Hearn and Gavin Johnson were all named to the Don Sanders Cup All-Series team.
The Bearkats will step out of conference this weekend when it hosts UConn for three games at Don Sanders Stadium. Game 1 is set for a 6:30 p.m. start on Friday and will be aired on ESPN+, while Games 2 and 3 will be aired on the Bearkat Sports Network’s YouTube page.
It took the Kats just three batters to get on the board as Jack Rogers blasted a 3-1 pitch from starter Jared Pettitte the opposite way, over the left-center field fence for a solo home run in the top of the first.
Houston came right back and got on the board in the home half of the inning, opening up with three consecutive singles off of Beard. The third came from Joe Davis, scoring Jared Triolo to tie it up at 1-1. Three batters later Bielamowicz bounded a single through the left side, giving the Cougars a 2-1 advantage.
SHSU left three men on base in the next two innings, but took advantage of each of the first two hitters of the fourth inning reaching base. Johnson was hit by a pitch to start the frame and Riley McKnight drew a walk, but it took a two-out single by Hearn to bring both of them in and put the Kats in front 3-2.
But the Kats could not hold the lead in the following half inning as the Cougars plated six runs against a trio of Bearkat pitchers. Derrick Cherry got the first two home on a two-run single and Davis followed with his second two-run single of the game one batter later to put UH quickly back in front 6-2. An infield hit by Grayson Padgett, coupled with a Bearkat error brought in another and a well-executed sac bunt by Bielamowicz plated one more, giving the Coogs a comfortable 8-3 lead after four.
The Kats couldn’t get one home in either the fifth or sixth and the Coogs tacked one on in the bottom of the sixth, but it could have been more. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases and a walk to Bielamowicz plated the ninth Cougar run of the game, but a highlight play from Backhus and a double-play line drive prevented any further damage.