The Bearkat baseball team (17-28, 7-14 SLC) was in desperate need of some wins in last weekend’s home series against the University of Texas-San Antonio, and they got just that. After splitting a doubleheader by winning 5-4 and losing 12-6, Sam Houston took game three 2-1.
Sunday’s game was much closer than the previous two, and it was kept close due to a spectacular performance on the mound by Jordan Tata. The Bearkat starter almost got in trouble early in the game, though. In the fourth inning, down 1-0, three singles filled the bases with no outs.
In an inning looking hopeless to some, Tata refused to go down without a fight. After a conference on the mound with pitching coach Phillip Ghutzman, Tata kept his head in the game, getting outs on the next three batters, keeping all runners at bay.
“Last week I loaded the bases in the last inning and we lost on a grand slam, and I wasn’t going to let that happen again,” Tata said. “When they got the bases loaded, I bared down and tried to make my best pitches.”
Tata went the full nine for the Bearkats and gave up only seven hits with zero earned runs, while striking out four.
“It was all Jordan Tata,” head coach Chris Rupp said, “We executed at a crucial time and got a big hit and Jordan did the rest.”
Success on the diamond requires clutch performances from many different players, and on Saturday the Bearkats had just that.
To compliment Tata’s outing from the mound, Dom Garcia provided the big hit at the plate.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth inning, Garcia went up to bat with Jeremy Holzbach and Lou Ferrell on base. The designated hitter took the 2-1 pitch over Roadrunner pitcher Evin Brewer’s head and through the second base gap to score two runs.
“I missed a lot of opportunities before to get some runners in,” Garcia said. “We needed to clutch up and it happened to go through. All I asked for was a base hit to get those runs in and get the lead, then Tata took care of the rest.”
The two-run single ended up being Garcia’s only hit of the day, but his one hit was all that was needed. The two runs proved to be all that the Bearkats needed, as good pitching from both ends of the field kept the score at 2-1.
“Dom has come up with some clutch hits for us all year long,” Rupp said. “He sat back and waited to get a good pitch that he could hit, and he got it up the middle because he is a good hitter, and I’m not surprised about that at all.”
Two games were played Saturday in a doubleheader split by the two teams.
Sam Houston took the series opener against Texas-San Antonio 5-4, but the
Roadrunners took game two 12-6.
What cost the Bearkats in game two was the same thing they have been suffering from all season, just one bad inning. Saturday, it came in the seventh.
Bearkat reliever Dustin Craig threw four strikeouts in the inning, but three of them were dropped strike threes, and two of those batters safely made it to first.
“We lose focus, and you can’t do that at this level,” Rupp said. “If you lose focus at this level, and you make a mistake here and there, somebody’s going to get you. Even the teams that aren’t that good are going to get you, and that’s what happened today.”
Also in the inning, two errors were committed, allowing Roadrunners to find their way on the bases and they were greatly helped by J.R. Voyles’ three-run homer.
Sam Houston opened up the game with a considerable lead, finishing the first inning with a 4-0 lead. Phillip Weaver knocked in two runs, while Garcia and Jonathan Stone brought in one each.
“In the second game where we came out strong in the first inning, we just kind of carried on from the first game,” Holzbach said. “We came out early and were aggressive swinging the bat.”
In the fourth inning, centerfielder Brandon Foster hit his first home run of the season, a solo shot over the right-field fence.
Solid defense and good pitching by starter Zach Adkisson kept UTSA at bay for the first three innings until Jeremy Blilie opened up the Roadrunners’ scoring with a solo shot to left-center.
Texas-San Antonio stuck it out and scored nine runs in the final three innings to get revenge against the home team after losing first game.
“In a game like this, when you’re playing a doubleheader and it’s hot out here, you can’t let up because if you do, that’s when the other team will come up and bite you,” Holzbach said.
Sam Houston did take game one and they did that by playing error-free ball.
No errors were credited to the Bearkats, as they held the visitors to just four runs on eight hits.
UTSA almost stole the game though, pulling ahead 4-2 in the seventh inning. The lead would not last for long, as the Bearkats took back control in the bottom of the inning.
The highlight of the seventh came when Ferrell hit a bunt to third baseman Eric Moreno. An errant throw allowed Ferrell to make it to second and Foster crossed home to open up the Bearkat scoring in a three-run inning.
“It ended up being pretty big at the time,” Ferrell said of his bunt. “Especially (Moreno) throwing away so we could get a couple extra bases right there. It’s a big series for us, so every little bit helps today.”
The wins were exactly what the Bearkats needed to energize themselves for a playoff run. Although a distant contender, Sam Houston does have a chance to make the postseason if the right things happen.
“They’re just not quitting,” Rupp said about his team. “I still don’t think we are out of it mathematically, and until we are, we’ve just been trying to keep them pumped up and tell them that stranger things have happened.”