HUNTSVILLE, Texas -- Behind Cody Dickson’s complete-game shutout, the Bearkats beat Central Arkansas, 4-0, and claimed sole possession of the 2013 Southland Baseball Championship.
Sam Houston (35-18, 19-7) won its third Southland regular season title and second consecutive.
It would seem that all the pressure was on the Bearkats to repeat as champions in 2013, but the team remained loose throughout the season and through the final out of tonight’s title-clincher.
“I don’t think that our players really look at it as pressure,” said Bearkat head coach David Pierce. “They’re such a loose group and they play so hard. I haven’t seen us tense up at all. For me, our preparation keeps the pressure off of us.”
Dickson certainly didn’t appear to be under pressure. The junior was outstanding for all nine innings as he allowed just four hits. He didn’t allow any free passes, while striking out ten batters.
The lefthander has been on a roll in his last five outings. Dickson has pitched 26 consecutive scoreless innings while just allowing eight hits over that stretch.
“I had some rough starts earlier in the season,” said starter Cody Dickson. “I realized I was trying to do too much on the mound. I lost sight of how much fun it is to relax and play the game. That’s what I’ve been doing lately.”
The Bearkats jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after the first inning. First baseman Jessie Plumlee led off the game with a single before catcher Anthony Azar doubled to move him to third. Third baseman Kevin Miller got the run in with a sacrifice fly to center.
After a few scoreless frames, the Kats put up a run in each of the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings.
Second baseman Ryan Farney led off the fifth with an infield single and moved to third after a sacrifice bunt and groundout. Azar hit an infield single to third base to score Farney.
Shortstop Carter Burgess and left fielder Luke Plucheck led off the sixth with base-hits. Designated hitter Wyatt Powell, making his first career start, hit a groundball to score Burgess from third for the first RBI of his career.
The Kats final run of the game came after center fielder Colt Atwood was hit by a pitch in the seventh. Azar singled to center and Miller followed with a single to get Atwood home.
“Our team came out with the right frame of mind tonight,” said Pierce. “There was one-hundred percent confidence in each other and in themselves. They really played a complete game and it’s fun to watch when you get pitching like that. It was a tremendous effort from the entire time and I’m really proud of this championship.”
The regular-season finale is tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Don Sanders Stadium. It will be “Senior Day” for four senior players; Michael Burchett, Kevin Miller, Greg Olson, and Jessie Plumlee. They will be honored before the game.