HUNTSVILLE – Saint Mary's got two runs in the top of the 11th to outlast Sam Houston State on Sunday afternoon, avoiding a sweep with an 8-7 win at Don Sanders Stadium.
Sam Houston (2-1) rallied to erase a 4-0 Gael (1-2) advantage, forcing extra innings behind strong relief efforts from Steven Beard and Landon Ausley; however, SMC managed to push across a pair of runs against in the 11th on a 2-run single by Nico Lima that proved to be the difference.
Trent Touchet made it interesting in the bottom half of the inning, hitting a solo homer in his first at-bat as a Bearkat to cut the deficit to just a run, but two batters later Colton Cowser saw his fly ball die just shy of the batter's eye in straightaway center field for the game's final out.
Ausley was tagged for the loss despite looking good in his first outing of the year. He retired six of the first seven hitters he faced, including four strikeouts, before a pair of infield hits to open the 11th proved to be his undoing.
For Saint Mary's, reliever Michael Hobbs got the win with 4.2 innings out of the pen. He struck out two and walked two, while his only hit allowed was the Touchet homer.
Dominic Robinson was good in his first 2020 outing, logging 5.0 innings on the day. The senior lefty allowed just one run on three hits, striking out four and walking just one. In all, the Kats would open up the year with 21.1 consecutive scoreless innings before the Gaels got on the board with a solo homer by Lima in the top of the fourth.
Offensively the Kats finished with eight hits, but did not have a player with more than one. The biggest swing came from Jack Rogers in the bottom of the sixth when he crushed a 3-run homer on the first pitch he saw from Andrew Hansen to cut the SMC lead to 4-0 after the Gaels had struck for three in the top of the frame.
Bryce Holmes finished with an RBI double and a pair of outfield assists, while Wes Folse also had an RBI in his first start of the year.
Lima proved to be the difference in the lineup for Saint Mary's, going 4-for-6 with a home run and five RBI. In all, the Gaels finished with 16 hits and were the benefactor of three Bearkat miscues.
Sam Houston will now turn its attention to its first midweek game of the year on Tuesday when it hosts Rice. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. at The Don and the game will be aired on ESPN+.