HOUSTON – The Sam Houston State baseball team has spent plenty of time on the big stage in the last decade, and that will continue in 2021 when they take part in the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic at Minute Maid Park.
The Bearkats are one of six teams invited to participate in the event, held annually at the home of the Houston Astros. The 2021 Classic will take place March 5-7 where the Kats will be joined by Texas A&M, TCU, Texas Tech, Texas State and Rice that weekend in an all-Texas field.
“This is a great opportunity for our program, players, fans and alumni and we are excited to be a part of it,” Jay Sirianni said after the field was officially announced on Sunday. “We have never shied away from taking on anyone, and this field is annually one of the top fields in the nation. For us to be a part of it and considered highly enough to be part of it is humbling, but we will be ready for the challenge.”
It will be the third time in program history that Sam Houston has participated in the Classic, having also done so in 2014 and 2018. Each time the Kats have caught the eye of the college baseball world in loud fashion.
In 2014, the Kats defeated No. 12 TCU and No. 26 Texas Tech before falling 3-2 in the finale against No. 15 Texas. With the wins, Sam Houston cracked the national rankings at No. 17.
Four years later the Kats returned to Minute Maid Park and opened up the tournament with a bang, erasing a 5-0 deficit to stun No. 12 Vanderbilt in extra innings.
Sam Houston trailed that game 5-2 entering the ninth inning but got homers from both Chase Cryer and Jordan Cannon to force extras before Hunter Hearn reached the Crawford Boxes in the bottom of the 10th for the 7-6 win.
“We’ve had success in that ballpark before, and doing it in that ballpark makes it even more special, especially for our players and alumni from the area,” Sirianni said. “Every player grows up dreaming of hitting a walk-off homer in a big-league park and we got to experience that last time. Who knows, maybe something happens this time that is even more memorable.”
The Classic will present a unique opportunity for a large portion of the Bearkat roster to play in the home of the Houston Astros. Currently 20 of the 32 players on the SHSU roster hail from hometowns within a 65-mile radius of the stadium.
As a university, Sam Houston State boasts over 60,000 alumni in the Houston area with its main campus located just 70 miles from Minute Maid Park.