The Bearkat baseball team had a busy Spring Break, and it started with a successful home stand against Nicholls State.
SHSU won two out of three from the visiting Colonels to open the Southland Conference season with a winning record. The opening SLC series for SHSU began on March 15.
It took 11 innings to beat the visitors in the first game, but it was a hard fought battle.
The score was tied at nine after nine innings, and no one scored in the tenth. The Colonels pulled ahead by one in the top of the 11th, but the Bearkats took it back in the bottom of the inning.
The game was won when Lou Ferrell doubled to bring home Jeremy Holzbach.
Ferrell and Andrew Kasparek each hit solo home runs to tie the game at nine in the eighth inning.
The Colonels got revenge in the next game. Recoiling from the agonizing defeat of game one, Nicholls State rallied to score 14 on the Bearkats in a 14-7 win.
Nicholls State, not making any substitutions in the nine-inning blowout, scored all 14 runs in the first six innings.
“We came out and made five errors in the first two innings and got so far behind, which makes it tougher on the hitters to hit when they’re down,” said Chris Rupp, head baseball coach.
The Bearkats used six pitchers, but Phillip Gougler would be credited with the loss after giving up eight runs off of seven hits in four innings pitched. Dustin Martin and Ryan Herrera came in to shut out the Colonels in the final three innings, but the damage had already been done.
The Bearkats still had yet another game to redeem themselves, and they would do just that.
Jordan Tata earned the win in SHSU’s 11-5 victory after striking out four and holding Nicholls state to four runs in five innings. The Kats were able to attack early and attack hard.
In only a third of an inning pitched, Colonel hurler Dustin Atkins gave up five runs off six hits to earn the loss.
Jeremy Locke led Bearkat hitting, going 3-for-4 while driving in two runs. In addition to Locke, Dom Garcia and Brandon Foster also had 2 RBIs.
Next on the agenda for the Bearkats were the Nebraska Cornhuskers when the Big 12 came to Huntsville last Wednesday.
The Bearkats, however, would not be intimidated, as they defeated the visiting Huskers 10-3.
SHSU did not have a high amount of hits, but they were able to take advantage of what little they had, scoring 10 runs off of 10 hits.
“I thought it was great,” Rupp said about his team’s performance Wednesday. “They came out, swung the bat and scored 10 runs. We got the big hits when we needed to on that one.”
Hitting big for the Bearkats was Jonathan Stone, who went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Ferrell also went 2-for-4, while Locke and Garcia again drove in two runs.
Dustin Craig opened the game for the Bearkats, and Herrera and Nathan Osterman pitched in relief. Each pitcher gave up only one run, but Herrera was credited with the win after pitching 4 2/3 innings, striking out four and walking only two.
Next on the schedule was Louisiana-Monroe. The Bearkats started a three-game series with the conference leaders Saturday.
The first game was over almost as soon as it began. At the end of three innings, ULM held a comfortable 9-2 lead in what would become a 12-3 game.
“It was a disappointing deal,” Rupp said about the Monroe series. “We won two out of three from Nicholls and then we beat Nebraska. I was looking for us to go up there and really do a better job.”
Pitcher Caleb Rodgers was credited with the loss after giving up all nine of the opening Indian runs on only seven hits. The relief pitchers helped slow the ULM offense, but Indian pitcher Justin Lensch pitched a complete nine-inning game, giving up only three runs off of five hits while striking out six and walking one.
Lensch was able to greatly slow the offense of SHSU from the start, as no Bearkat was able to get more than one hit. Jonathan Hamilton was, however, able to make a great contribution to the team, getting two RBIs.
Sunday, the Bearkats tried to fix things in the second game of the series, but they had an even worse outcome, being shut out 10-0 in a seven-inning game.
Indian pitcher Ryan Schwabe pitched all seven innings for his team and gave up only four hits to earn the win. The loss was credited to Bearkat Jordan Tata, whose one inning gave ULM five runs off of three hits.
The Bearkats still had one more game remaining against the Indians, and all problems they saw previous to this contest seemed to have been corrected.
The Kats lost 4-3 in a close game, but it was a vast improvement from the previous two.
“I was glad to end it on a better note, but it still wasn’t satisfactory. A loss is still a loss,” Rupp said.
Gougler pitched a great game for his team, but was credited with the loss for the four runs he gave up in 6 2/3 innings pitched. Winning the game for ULM was Caleb McConnell, with Adam Arrant earning the save.
“We got a great pitching performance out of Gougler,” Rupp said. “Gougler gave us a chance to win it and if we would’ve gotten a couple key hits here and there, we might have won it.”
Jeremy Holzbach hit 2-for-4 for SHSU, with Foster, Ferrell and Locke each driving in a run.
The Bearkats will be hosting the University of Houston on Tuesday at Holleman Field at 2 p.m.
They will return to conference play when they host Lamar in a three-game set beginning Friday.
The series should prove to be another tough one for the Bearkats, as the Cardinals currently stand 4-1 in SLC action, with a 17-6 overall record. The Bearkats are now 2-4 (11-14).