NACOGDOCHES – The Sam Houston State Bearkats started off slowly, but closed strong in splitting a doubleheader with Stephen F. Austin on Sunday at Jaycees Field, clinching the program’s first series win in Nacogdoches since 2013.
The Kats (22-11, 14-4 SLC) never led in the opener, but never trailed in the finale in taking its sixth consecutive Southland Conference series, strengthening its hold on first place in the league.
Stephen F. Austin 12, Sam Houston State 7 (Box Score)
The Bearkats hit three home runs, but SFA used a six-run second inning to stake itself to a lead and then continued to add on in a 12-7 win in the day’s opener.
Clayton Harp, Colton Cowser and Jack Rogers all homered, but each was a solo shot in the opening third of the game. Meanwhile, SFA scored in five of the first six frames of the game to make a winner of starting pitcher Jacob Stobart.
Harp’s blast in the second inning had the game tied at 1-1, but SFA got a homer from Josh Campbell on the first pitch of the second inning and proceeded to bring home five more runs to gain a lead it would not relinquish.
Cowser and Rogers delivered back-to-back solo homers with two outs in the third, but the ‘Jacks tacked on four more runs over the next three innings. Sam Houston got three back in the top of the sixth on RBI from Harp and Gavin Johnson, but again SFA had an answer with a run in the bottom half of the inning.
Seth Ballew took the loss to fall to 2-2 on the season after lasting just 1.1 innings and allowing seven runs. Meanwhile, Stobart allowed five runs in 6.0 innings, but punched out four and left with the lead before handing it over to Jeremy Rodriguez who fired the final 3.0 innings for his fifth save of the year.
Sam Houston State 6, Stephen F. Austin 3 (Box Score)
The Bearkats responded in the second game of the twinbill, taking the lead just one batter into the game and leading wire-to-wire behind a four-hit game from Cowser and 6.0 quality innings from starter Nick Mikolajchak.
The Bearkat was coming off picking up a save in the series opener on Friday night and allowed just two runs – one earned – in his 6.0 frames, scattering six hits while striking out six to run his record to 3-3 on the year. Cody Wolf entered to open the seventh and went the rest of the way, allowing just one hit and striking out three for his first save of the year.
For Cowser, it was his second four-hit game of the year, leading off the game with his third homer of the series and adding three more singles and an RBI. Rogers added three more hits and scored a run, while Clayton Harp had two hits and a key RBI single in the ninth to provide the Kats with some insurance.
They were able to chase SFA starter Jaxon Covington from the hill in the fourth, handing the freshman his fourth loss of the year after he allowed four runs in 3.2 innings.
It took just three pitches for the Kats get out in front as Cowser jumpstarted his four-hit game with a solo home run off of SFA starter Jaxon Covington. Two innings later singles by Cowser and Rogers got Sam Houston going again, setting the table for a sac fly by Hunter Hearn and an RBI single by Jordan Cannon to put the Kats up 3-0.
Mikolajchak put up a pair of zeros in the opening two frames before giving up a run in the third on a sac fly from Manny Vasquez, but the Kats immediately got it back in the fourth when Cowser lined a two-out RBI single into right to score Diego Davila and push the lead back to 4-1.
SFA brought it back to 4-2 on an RBI double from Skylar Black in the bottom of the inning, but Mikolajchak managed to get a strikeout of Carson Clowers and a fly ball from Nick Daley to prevent any further damage.
Mikolajchak had to work out of an even tougher jam in the sixth after a hit batter and double put Lumberjacks on second and third with nobody out; however, the junior righty responded by retiring the next three hitters in a row, including strikeouts of Black and pinch hitter Jordan Monacy to keep any runs from crossing the plate.
Wolf then fired a scoreless seventh and the Kats put some insurance on the board in the eighth, taking advantage of a leadoff double by Johnson by bringing him in on a sac fly by Jackson Loftin that made it a 5-2 game.
The Kats added one more in the ninth on an RBI single by Harp after a leadoff double by Johnson, which was more than enough for Wolf in the ninth. He gave up a leadoff double, but retired each of the final three hitters of the ninth to secure the win.
The Bearkats will now head to Waco on Tuesday for its second meeting of the season with Baylor. The game is to get started at 6:30 p.m. at Baylor Ballpark and will be aired on FSSW+.
Bearkat Athletics will host a watch party for fans in Huntsville on Tuesday night at Margarita’s.