HOUSTON -- Two first-inning runs weren’t enough to hold up as the Sam Houston State baseball team fell 3-2 to No. 16 Texas in the Bearkats final game of the Houston College Classic. The Kats made some noise and finished 2-1 in the tournament with wins over ranked TCU and Texas Tech.
For their first time playing in the annual College Classic at Minute Maid Park, the Bearkats weren’t overwhelmed by the big stage.
Texas starting pitcher Lukas Schiraldi struggled early and the Kats chased him from the game after just four innings. Reliever Morgan Cooper was outstanding in relief and pitched the final 4 1/3 innings. Cooper allowed only three hits and struck out five Kats.
“I thought today’s game was a very good baseball game,” Bearkat head coach David Pierce said. “There were little plays here or there that both teams felt like they should have made. They stayed with their short game and eventually it was the reason they won. Morgan Cooper was outstanding for them. I credit him and Texas for doing their thing at the end of the game.”
The Kats started strong and took an early lead over the Longhorns. Center fielder Colt Atwood and first baseman Ryan O’Hearn started the game with back-to-back singles. Atwood advanced from first to third and O’Hearn moved to second on the throw.
Atwood scored the first run of the game on what would have been a groundout by catcher Anthony Azar. The Longhorns shortstop was unable to make the play and Azar was safe at first.
After right fielder Hayden Simerly struck out, third baseman Carter Burgess walked to load the bases. Shortstop Jake MacWilliam struck out for the second out of the inning.
Designated hitter Shea Pierce worked a bases loaded walk to score the Kats second run.
SHSU starter Dirk Masters tossed five innings and kept Texas off the board. He only allowed four hits but he issued five walks, which caused his day to end early.
The Horns tied the game in the seventh inning and eventually took the lead in the eighth.
Sam Houston had several scoring opportunities that they couldn’t cash in on. Two Bearkat runners were thrown out at the plate in the game.
“That was a tough game to lose. We fought hard and had a good weekend. We’ll move on,” center fielder Colt Atwood said. “This weekend was good for us and tells us where we’re at. We would have liked to get that last one. We’ve got one more weekend to go before we start conference.”
The Kats will continue their string of games against ranked opponents when they host Rice Wednesday at Don Sanders Stadium for a 6:30 p.m. first pitch.