San Marcos – Designated hitter Anthony Azar lifted a walk-off home run over the left field fence as No. 1 seeded Sam Houston State avenged its first round loss to A&M-Corpus Christi and stayed alive in the Southland Conference baseball tournament Friday morning at Bobcat Ball Park.
The lead-off home run in the bottom of the ninth gave Sam Houston (38-19) a 4-3 victory as the Kats ended the season for the Islanders. A&M-Corpus Christi (24-33 ) upset the Kats 9-2 in the first round Wednesday.
Sam Houston moves on to face No. 4 seed UT-Arlington at 4 p.m. today.
The Bearkats built a 3-0 lead as starting pitcher Michael Oros allowed the Islanders only one hit and three base runners in the first five innings. But A&M-Corpus Christi tied the contest with a three-run sixth inning to set up Azar’s late heroics.
Sam Houston totaled nine hits while the Islanders ended the day with eight. But A&M-Corpus Christi left eight runners stranded including runners in scoring position in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.
Michael Burchett (4-2) was the winning pitcher for the Bearkats, working the final inning and one third. Phillip Garcia (0-2) was the loser for TAMUCC.
The Bearkats picked up an early run in the bottom of the second inning. First baseman Ryan O’Hearn earned a leadoff walk, moved to second on a single by designated hitter Anthony Azar and scored on right fielder Jake Arrington’s shot to center field.
Shortstop Corey Toups scored a second run in the bottom of the third. The freshman singled, was sacrificed to second and reached third on a botched pickoff attempt. Left fielder Luke Plucheck brought Toups home with a sacrifice fly to center field.
Hale led off the Bearkats’ fifth inning with a solo home run to left field, the senior’s second homer of the year.
The Islanders tied the game with three runs in the top of the sixth. Left fielder Jordan Lee and designated hitter Jonathan Gonzalez produced back-to-back one out singles.
Third baseman Weston Montgomery scored Lee with a double down the left field line. Second baseman Jeramie Marek tied the contest with a double off the wall in left center.
Sam Houston is seeking to become only the third No. 1 seed to win the tournament in the 20-year history of the event. Only three teams have lost their first game but come back through the loser’s bracket to take the title.
If the Bearkats can defeat UT-Arlington in Friday’s 4 p.m. contest, the pair will meet Saturday in an “as necessary” contest to decide which squad will play in Saturday’s championship final.
Southland tournament results and schedule:
Wednesday, May 23
Game 1: No. 4 UT-Arlington 6, No. 5 McNeese State 2
Game 2: No. 8 A&M-Corpus Christi 9, No. 1 Sam Houston 2
Game 3: No. 3 Texas State 11, No. 6 Stephen F. Austin 1
Game 4: No. 2 Southeastern Louisiana 6, No. 7 Central Arkansas 3
Thursday, May 24
Game 5: No. 1 Sam Houston 7, No. 5 McNeese State 1 (Cowboys eliminated)
Game 6: No. 6 Stephen F. Austin 7, No. 7 Central Arkansas 2 (Bears eliminated)
Game 7: No. 4 UT-Arlington 10, No. 8 A&M-Corpus Christi 5
Game 8: No. 2 Southeastern Louisiana 7, No. 3 Texas State 1
Friday, May 25
Game 9: No. 1 Sam Houston 4, No. 8 A&M-Corpus Christi 3 (Islanders eliminated)
Game 10: No. 3 Texas State vs. No. 6 Stephen F. Austin, 12 noon
Game 11: No. 4 UT-Arlington vs. No. 1 Sam Houston, 4 p.m.
Game 12: No. 2 Southeastern Louisiana vs. Game 10 winner, 7 p.m.