Bearkats Drop Season Opener

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EDINBURG, TX – First baseman Ryan Hastings singled in the winning run in the seventh inning and added an insurance RBI on a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning to lead the University of Illinois to a 6-4 victory over Sam Houston State on the opening day of NCAA Division I college baseball season Friday.

The game took place at the University of Texas-Pan American Classic.

Senior Jacob Howard, an all-Southland Conference pitcher for the Bearkats last year, went the first six innings for Sam Houston. Howard allowed only two hits, but walked in two runs in the second inning.

Ryan Teperra took the loss in relief, giving up four runs on four hits and two walks. Casey Springer got the final three outs in the ninth.

Bobby Verbick, Brandon Riley, and Todd Sebek each posted a double to lead Sam Houston at the plate.

Illinois put runs on the scoreboard first, scoring twice in the top of the second inning. John Schlichter and Dan Webb started the inning with a walk and a single, respectively. Mike Gilder was hit by a pitch to load the bases, then Howard walked back-to-back batters to put the Ilini up 2-0.

Brandon Wikoff singled, stole second, then scored on an error to give Illinois a 3-0 lead in the third inning.

Bobby Verbick started a four-run Bearkat rally in the bottom of the sixth inning, leading off the frame with a single.

Ryan Weber advanced Verbick to second base with a single and Nick Zaleski scored Verbick with another single. Brandon Riley tied the game 3-3 with a double, scoring Weber and Zaleski. Keith Stein’s single scored Riley to give Sam Houston a one-run lead.

Illinois rallied quickly, scoring two runs in the top of the seventh. With two out, Kyle Hudson singled, stole second, then scored on a single by Casey McMurray. Two more singles by Brandon Wikoff and Ryan Hastings brought in McMurray to put the Ilini back in front 5-4.

The Ilini added two more insurance runs in the top of the ninth, loading the bases with a single, an error, and a walk before a pair of sacrifice flies.

Sam Houston State plays Lamar at 1 p.m. Saturday.

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