HUNTSVILLE, Texas -- Sam Houston State clinched at least a share of a third straight Southland title in dominant fashion as they blasted A&M-Corpus Christi, 13-3, in eight innings. The Bearkats (39-15, 20-8 SLC) are now just one win away from the outright championship and the first 40-win regular season since 1987.
“We’ve won at least a share (of the Southland Championship) and our guys deserve it,” head coach David Pierce said. “They have really buckled down and played their hearts out. They’ve played for each other and with each other and I’m so proud of them. I think they really want to try to win it outright tomorrow so we’ll ready to go again tomorrow.”
The Kats and Islanders had gone back-and-forth through the first five and a half innings before a nine-run sixth inning broke a 3-3 tie and blew the game open.
Just as he did several times in the series opener Thursday night, catcher Anthony Azar led off the inning with a single to spark a scoring outburst. First baseman Ryan O’Hearn followed with a walk and third baseman Carter Burgess sacrificed the runners over.
After an Islander pitching change, shortstop Corey Toups broke the deadlock with an RBI single up the middle. Second baseman Shea Pierce drove in O’Hearn with a sacrifice fly to left field to make the score 5-3 with two outs.
Left fielder Luke Plucheck walked and right fielder Travis Lee legged out an infield single to load the bases. Center fielder Colt Atwood delivered a two-run double into the gap in right-center field and chased the reliever after recording just one out.
Designated hitter Hayden Simerly walked to load the bases back up and Azar singled for the second time in the inning, driving in two more runs. Azar finished 3-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI.
O’Hearn capped off the inning with a three-run, opposite field home run to make the score 12-3. The Bearkat first baseman finished the game 3-for-3 with four runs scored and 3 RBI.
“This means a lot but I think everyone knows the work isn’t over,” O’Hearn said. “We don’t want just a share of it, we want it to ourselves. This is definitely a good step today and the really big game is tomorrow.”
Starter Jason Simms tossed 5 2/3 innings and allowed three runs on six hits with three strikeouts. Alan Scott was solid in 2 1/3 innings of relief. He allowed just one hit and picked up his third win of the season.
The Bearkats loaded the bases with one out in the eighth and Burgess singled to left field to end the game early.
SHSU goes for the sweep and the outright league title Saturday at 1 p.m. at Don Sanders Stadium. Four seniors, Anthony Azar, Luke Plucheck, Jason Simms and Alan Scott will be honored pregame.