For only the second time since 1995, Sam Houston State is off to a 4-0 start in baseball.
Sam Houston State looks to continue the winning streak Tuesday when the Bearkats play host to Prairie View A&M at 6:30. The Kats will host Nebraska, Saint Mary's (California) and Missouri State in the Sam Houston Baseball Classic Friday through Sunday at Don Sanders Stadium.
The Bearkats swept a four-game series with 2007 NCAA Tournament participant and 2009 Missouri Valley Conference top three Creighton Friday through Saturday. Sam Houston started 4-0 in 2003 and 1995.
Two of the victories came in extra innings. The Bearkats won 8-6 on Friday, 4-3 in 10 innings and 7-5 on Saturday, and 5-4 in 11 innings Sunday. The 2009 edition of SHSU baseball shined on offense, defense and on the mound.
The Kats hit .293 as a team with five players hitting .333 or better in the series. Defensively, Sam Houston committed only one error in their first three games and had only three miscues in the series. The pitching staff totaled 36 strike outs and produced a 3.69 earned run average.
After consecutive NCAA Regional appearances thanks to back-to-back Southland Conference post-season tournament championships, Sam Houston State came into the 2009 season having to replace its entire outfield, a unit that consisted of three players who earned All-America and first team All-Southland honors during their Bearkat careers. Also, the Kats had to find a new starter at shortstop.
The newcomers were impressive.
Shortstop Jon Reed, a transfer from Iowa Western Community College, hit .438 for the series with two doubles and four RBIs. Right fielder Tyler Knight, a junior from Neosho County College in Kansas, hit .400 with two game-winning RBIs. Center fielder Justin Keithley, a transfer from Richland College, hit .333 for the series.
Senior first baseman Nick Zaleski, one of the Bearkats' returning starters, went 7-for-16 in the series (.438) with three doubles and five RBIs. Preseason All-Southland Conference third baseman Seth Hammock hit .375 with two RBIs.
One of the highlights on the mound for Sam Houston was the return of junior Jacob Howard. A second-team All-Southland Conference selection in 2007, Howard missed most of the 2008 season with an injury. Howard earned the victory in the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader, striking out six in five innings of relief work in a 7-5 Bearkat win.
Preseason All-Southland sophomore Dallas Gallant was the winning pitcher in the first game. Freshman Sean Weatherword and reliever Matt Shelton earned the other two victories.