HUNTSVILLE, TX – Each of the five Sam Houston seniors in the starting lineup hit safely, combining for six of the team’s nine hits, and senior pitcher Zac Baker picked up the victory in relief as the Bearkats celebrated “Senior Day” at Don Sanders Stadium with an 8-5 victory over Stephen F. Austin.
Sam Houston (33-23, SLC 18-12) rallied from a 5-3 deficit, scoring eight runs on nine hits and one Lumberjack error. The victory in season finale gave SHSU victories in two out of the three games in the SFA series.
Sam Houston will be the No. 4 seed in the Southland Conference post-season tournament which begins Wednesday in Huntsville. The Bearkats, who won the tournament last May in Natchitoches, LA., also as the four seed, will play No. 5 seed Northwestern State in the first round of the eight-team event
Stephen F. Austin (25-28, SLC 12-16) failed to qualify for the tournament.
Down 5-4, the Bearkats scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh. The winning run crossed the plate when Nick Zaleski was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
First baseman Sean Meyers put SFA on the scoreboard first with a solo home run to right field to lead off the second inning. The shot was Meyers’ fourth home run of the season.
The Lumberjacks padded their lead with two unearned runs in the top of the third inning. Jeff Brewer reached first base on an infield error, stole second base, and reached third on a fly ball to right center. Kai Kirby walked and, on an attempted double steal, both Brewer and Kirby scored when pitcher Zac Neal’s throw to third base went wide for the second error of the inning.
Seth Hammock homered to left field after Bobby Verbick walked to start the bottom of the fourth inning. The 11th home run of the year by Hammock, the shot cut the SFA margin to 3-2.
Justin Roland’s run scoring single with two out in the top of the fifth inning extended the Jack lead to 4-2. Kevin Crabtree walked, then reached third on a bad hop single by Meyers before coming home on Roland’s hit.
Kai Kirby tripled to bring in another Lumberjack run in the sixth. Kirby scored Mat Whatley who got on base on the Bearkats’ third error of the day.
Sam Houston narrowed the lead to 5-4 with two runs in the sixth. Hammock walked then moved to third on a double by Nick Zaleski. Ryan Trevino’s sacrifice fly to right field scored Hammock, then Zaleski scored as the throw to third base was wild.
Ryan Weber walked and Stein and Verbick each singled to load the bases with one out in the bottom of the seventh. SFA starter Erik Gregerson walked Hammock to score the tying run and relief pitcher Erich Lehmann hit Zaleski to give Sam Houston the lead 6-5.
Trevino singled and Heath Pugh hit a sacrifice fly to center field to give the Kats an 8-5 lead.