Kats stay late to sweep Lamar

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HUNTSVILLE - A weird day got a little whackier in the late hours of Saturday night — and in a good way for the Bearkats.

Sam Houston State only led once in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, trailing by as much as four runs at one point. However, sophomore outfielder Jack Rogers gave the Kats their first lead of the night in the bottom of the ninth, emptying the home bench with a walk-off solo home run.

The blast lifted Sam Houston State to a 6-5 home victory, and secured the team’s fifth consecutive series win to begin Southland Conference play.

Due to inclement weather earlier in the day, first pitch of the doubleheader was pushed back from 3 to 7 p.m. The second half of the twinbill got underway at 10:47 p.m.

Lamar struck first in the top of the second inning of the first game, as junior Logan Berlof drove in senior Robin Adames for the first run of the game. Sophomore Rhett McCall kept his foot on the gas for the Cardinals two at-bats later, bouncing an RBI double off Sam Houston State third baseman Colton Cowser’s glove and into the outfield.

The scoring continued for Lamar in the third inning, with the Cardinals extending their lead to 4-0 after RBIs from Berlof and freshman Reese Durand.

Sam Houston State made a crucial decision after this, however, which appeared to alter the trajectory of the game.

Bearkats sophomore right-hander Cole Wesneski entered the game from the bullpen with one out in the inning and runners on first and third, relieving senior starter Riley Gossett, who allowed four earned runs and 10 hits in 2.1 innings pitched. Wesneski forced a fly out to right, and Rogers threw out a runner at the plate to complete a double-play and get Sam Houston State out of the jam.

The Kats began to climb back in the bottom half of the third, plating three runs, with Cowser, Rogers and senior Jordan Cannon each delivering RBIs — including a solo home run from Cannon. Lamar added another run of their own in the top of the fourth, but Sam Houston State evened things up at 5 with two more runs in the bottom half of the inning, with Cowser and freshman Jackson Loftin each driving in runs.

Both offenses quieted down after 10 total runs crossed the plate in the first four innings, and the next run didn’t score until Rogers’ walk-off home run.

Outside of the game-winning blast, Sam Houston State’s bullpen stole the show, shutting out Lamar for the final five innings. This included 3.1 shutout innings from junior righthander Cody Wolf, and a shutout ninth for junior Nick Mikolajchak, who received the win for the Kats.

In the nightcap the Kats got 6.0 strong innings and five strikeouts from Seth Ballew, who earned his second win of the year as the Kats completed the sweep with an 8-4 win.

Rogers was one of five Kats to have two hits in the second game, including a double as part of a four-run eighth inning that blew the game open. Cowser had a pair of RBI in the game while Cannon, McKnight, Diego Davila and Loftin all had an RBI each. Mikolajchak earned his fourth save of the year with 3.0 innings of relief work.