The Bearkats have finally found out that they really are a good baseball team. After taking two-of-three from the University of Texas-San Antonio last weekend, the Kats defeated the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs in a hard-fought battle.
Relief pitcher Nathan Boyd (2-5) picked up the win Tuesday after pitching the final 3 2/3 innings of the ballgame. The Horned Frogs were mounting a rally against the home team when Boyd was brought in to save the game.
The pressure was mounting for the reliever, but he ignored it all and just worried about getting the next out. Only one run was made on Boyd, holding the game at a 9-9 tie, but in overcoming the pressure, many more runs were prevented.
“Every pitcher at some point in their career is going to be in that situation,” Boyd said after the game. “That’s what makes a great pitcher a great pitcher, the ability to get out of situations like that and to deal with the pressure.”
TCU (29-17) tallied only one run in the sixth inning off of Boyd, but once he was able to get out of the inning, he dominated the TCU hitters for the final three sets. Only 10 batters came to the plate in the last third of the game. The Horned Frogs collected two hits off Boyd in the seventh, but it was 1-2-3 innings in the eighth and ninth.
“When you get in tough situations, you’ve got to keep throwing strikes,” Bearkat coach Chris Rupp said. “You’ve got to remember that hitters will get themselves out, and as long as you’re throwing strikes, you’re going to give yourself a chance.”
After closing down the Horned Frog offense, Boyd got a big assist from the Bearkat batters. After reaching on an error, Brandon Foster was knocked in by Andrew Kasparek, who reached second on an error by Horned Frog shortstop Shaff Elkouri. The Kats’ catcher was then brought home when Dom Garcia drove him home with an RBI double.
The Kats (18-28) were only able to mount two runs in the inning, but it proved to be all they needed, taking the game 11-10.
What saved the game for Sam Houston was its fielding. The Bearkats committed only one defensive error Tuesday, while the Horned Frogs were credited with six.
“It’s all about focus,” shortstop Jeremy Holzbach said. “It doesn’t matter what happens. If a guy gets a base hit, you’ve got to come back and get ready to pitch to the next guy and go from there. Good things will happen if you stay focused and stay in the game.”
In the seventh inning, with no outs and runners on first and third, the runner on first tried to steal second. The Horned Frogs were hoping that runner would prove to be a distraction, so the man on third could steal home, but the Bearkat infield was alert.
Second baseman Lou Ferrell was not to be fooled by the strategic base running, as the senior from Conroe made a dead-on throw to Kasparek to get the runner out at home.
“We made a good read and that’s the play we’ve been working on all the time,” Ferrell said. “It was big at the time, because if they score right there, who knows what happens after that?”
The bottom of the order on the Bearkat lineup was on fire Tuesday. Jonathan Stone, Jeremy Locke, Dustin Martin and Keith Hodges combined to go 8-for-12 Tuesday, with five runs scored and three runs batted in.
Sam Houston also had a big offensive day from Foster. Sam Houston’s lead-off hitter went 1-for-5, but scored three runs with three RBIs. In addition to his fifth-inning double, Foster also reached twice on errors.
The Bearkats will have a week-long break before they travel to Houston to take the third-ranked Rice Owls on May 7. Rupp said that the break should help the team out in that it will give the Kats a much-needed rest before taking on the Owls for the second time this season.
“We’re going to rest a little bit and use it to our advantage,” Rupp said. “These guys have been playing a long time and are tired, but we’ll keep coming up and working out. We’ll take a couple days off and then come back and get ready for Rice.”