Kats clinch series over LMU

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HUNTSVILLE – The Sam Houston State baseball team clinched its second consecutive series win on Saturday, putting together a balanced performance to take down Loyola Marymount, 5-3, at Don Sanders Stadium.

The Kats (4-1) pounded out 14 hits and used four pitchers to reach the finish line, getting a 4-for-4 day from Christian Smith and a 2-for-4 outing from Colton Cowser that included a pair of highlight-reel catches and the go-ahead home run in the fifth inning.

Lance Lusk earned his first win as a Bearkat, logging 3.0 relief innings of starter Matt Dillard, who allowed just two unearned runs in 4.0 frames. Lusk struck out three and allowed just one run on the hill before a scoreless frame from Garrett Egli set things up for Landon Ausley, who struck out a pair in a 1-2-3 inning to close it out.

For LMU (3-4), starter Nick Frasso was tagged with the loss despite striking out six in 4.2 innings. A teammate of Cowser's on Team USA last summer, Frasso gave up three runs on nine hits, including the go-ahead solo homer by Cowser that made it a 3-2 game.

Offensively for SHSU, Jack Rogers, Erick Davila and Trent Touchet all added a pair of hits.

A pair of infield hits by Cowser and Anthony MacKenzie helped get the Kats on the board in the opening inning as Corbin Vines picked up an RBI on a ground ball for a 1-0 advantage. An error led to two LMU scores in the second, but the Kats answered back with an RBI double by Gavin Johnson into the left-field corner, scoring Smith.

The Kats had a chance to add on, but Frasso was able to get the better of Cowser, striking him out with the bases loaded to keep things tied. But in the fifth, he was not so fortunate as the Bearkat sophomore launched a 2-2 pitch over the right-center field fence for a solo homer that surged SHSU in front 3-2.

Smith then tacked on another run three batters later, scoring Rogers with a double off the batter's eye in straightaway center field. LMU was able to get a run back off of Lusk in the sixth, but again the Kats had an answer as Touchet singled and worked his way around the bases, eventually scoring on the third LMU error of the game.

Lusk and Egli then bridged things to the ninth where the Kats summoned Ausley to close it out. The righty promptly struck out Dylan Hirsch before Cowser picked up a big second out, making a diving catch in the left-center field gap to rob Kenny Oyama of extra bases. Ausley then finished the job three pitches later with a punchout of Cole Roberts.

The Kats will now go for the sweep on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. at The Don. The game can be heard over the air in the Huntsville area on KSHU 90.5 FM and be followed on with live stats on Statbroadcast.