For once, the Bearkat baseball team was able to compete in some of the finest weather to hit East Texas this season. The players seemed to come alive in the 60-degree weather and smoothly defeated the Centenary Gents, 3-2, in a pleasurable game for both the crowd of 332 and the players alike.
Sam Houston State University’s starting pitcher Jesse Marshall (1-0) seemed to struggle with his release throughout the game and had no breaks from the home plate umpire on several debatable pitches.
Yet his talent on the mound still proved to be too much for Centenary (7-8) as Marshall struck out six batters and allowed just two runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Those two runs were scored in a shaky first inning in which Marshall walked the first batter and later loaded the bases. A botched double-play attempt then resulted in first baseman Karl Krailo committing an error and sending two Gent runners across the plate to give Centenary the 2-0 lead.
In the top of the sixth inning, Matt Heinrich came in to relieve after Marshall allowed a double to right field.
Heinrich held the Gents to just three hits and no runs for the rest of the game to earn the save. Centenary’s Matt Clark was the losing pitcher for the game and dropped to 0-2.
On offense, the Bearkats have proven all season that if things are not going well at the plate, they will simply find another way to bring in the runs. True to their style, the Bearkats capitalized off a Centenary error to score their first run despite getting just one hit off Clark. First baseman Karl Krailo reached first on an error by the Gent’s shortstop and later scored on a single by right fielder Dustin Martin.
The Bearkats stayed down 2-1 throughout the next four innings as the players hit five long balls into the outfield, yet they could not seem to get one over the fence.
Yet in the bottom of the fifth inning, Krailo finally broke through the invisible wall and hit the only Bearkat home run of the game, bringing in two runs and putting SHSU firmly in the lead, 3-2. The homer was enough to send the crowd wild and prompt a visit to the mound by Centenary coach Ed McCann. The two-run shot would later prove to be the game-winner as the SHSU pitching staff held the Gents scoreless for the remaining four innings.
To compliment the great night of baseball, the SHSU Alcohol Abuse Initiative held giveaways and prizes throughout the game. Three fans won a drawing to watch the game with two of their friends from a suite in the press box, complete with an all-you-can-eat selection from the concession stand, compliments of AAI.
SHSU (6-5) is currently in fourth place behind Southeastern Louisiana (6-3) in the Southland Conference.
The Bearkats will head to Edinburg next to compete in the Texas-Pan American Invitational where they will play a three game series beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday.