Lamar knocks Kats back to sixth in SLC

In a roller-coaster series this weekend, the Sam Houston State University baseball team defeated the top team in the Southland Conference while also suffering their first shut-out of the season.

The powerful duo of pitchers Timothy Gray and Luke Prihoda took to the mound for the Bearkats Thursday night and surprised Lamar (27-12, 15-3 SLC) with just their third conference loss of the season. The 6-2 win marked the third time this year that a game started by Gray and closed by Prihoda ended in the Bearkats favor.

“They’ve been our workhorses on the mound all year,” Sam Houston head coach Chris Rupp said. “Gray’s been our most consistent starter. We had Prihoda starting some in the beginning of the season, but he’s mostly a closer now.”

With an offense averaging seven runs a game, the Bearkats tallied seven hits and brought in six runs to win the first game of the three-game series.

Right fielder Dustin Martin got his only hit of the game with a triple in the third at-bat of the first inning. With the hit, the Bearkats put the first run on the board and took the early 1-0 lead. First baseman Karl Krailo, a product of Klein Forest H.S., followed with a single to bring in Martin for the 2-0 lead. Krailo went 2-for-4 in game one of the series and currently sports the team’s second best batting average with a .354.

“Karl has been very consistent at the plate. He’s probably our most consistent hitter with runners in scoring position,” Rupp said. “He’s also done a fine job on defense at first base.”

The Bearkats got on the board once more in the top of the third inning as Krailo again found success at the plate. After centerfielder Jeremy Holzbach and Martin both walked, Krailo knocked a single to centerfield to up the Bearkat lead to 3-0.

While the SHSU bats grew hotter at the plate, the Cardinal’s offense was all but invisible. After a single by DH Matt Fry increased the Bearkats’ lead to 4-0 in the top of the sixth, the Cardinals finally got on the board. In the bottom of the eighth, Gray gave up the first run for Lamar off a triple from the Cardinals right fielder Collin DeLome.

The Bearkats retained a solid 4-1 lead going into the ninth inning, and added to it with a pair of unearned runs following errors from the Cardinals third baseman Jo Jo Haney and losing pitcher Ju Walker.

After giving up another run in the bottom of the ninth, Gray was replaced on the mound with Prihoda, who finished out the game with no hits and no runs for his fourth save of the year.

Despite the impressive win to start the series, the Bearkats dropped the final two games to the Cardinals, 8-1 and 3-0.

Allen Harrington, a sophomore pitcher from Port Neches-Groves H.S., threw eight solid innings for Lamar in game three and handed the Bearkats their first shut-out loss of the season.

“Harrington is one of the best pitchers in the conference, no doubt about that,” Rupp said. “Nothing really went wrong in the third game. Zach did a fine job on the mound. Anytime you hold the other team to three runs is good. We just couldn’t get the runs.”

With the two losses, SHSU drops to 20-18 on the season, 10-8 in conference play while the Cardinals retain their lone position in atop the SLC standings.

This Tuesday, the Bearkats close out a nine-game road trip at Centenary before returning to Huntsville Friday to take on Texas State at 7 p.m.

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