It may be his first season at Sam Houston State University, but the taste of victory is nothing new for Mark Johnson.
In his 22nd year as head coach of a four-year university, Johnson picked up his 900th victory Tuesday night as the Bearkats defeated non-conference foe Prairie View A&M 6-4 on the road. With the milestone win, the Bearkats improve to 24-15 on the season as they head into a three-game road series against McNeese State.
Junior Adam Albright took the start for the Bearkats on Tuesday and allowed three runs on two hits before exiting in the bottom of the third with two outs and one runner on base.
Casey Springer (2-1), a junior from Montgomery, took over and pitched the remainder of the game and gave up just two hits and one run for his second win of the season.
With the Bearkat pitching staff effectively checking the Panthers’ offense, the Bearkats were able to work up a 5-1 lead in the top of the second while Prairie View A&M was held to four runs throughout the game.
Nick Zaleski, playing at first base, led off the second inning with a single and later scored on an error by the Panthers’ rightfielder Robert Tolan.
After knocking a single to right field and advancing to second on the throw, Todd Sebek stole third and later scored on a single from shortstop Jeremy Holzbach.
With runners on second and third, center fielder Keith Stein came to the plate and doubled down the right field line to score Holzbach and Clint Mann, who earlier reached base on a walk.
Stein finished the night with a 1-for-3 performance and 2 RBIs for the Bearkats.
The final run of the inning came on a single by left fielder Bobby Verbick, who lead the Bearkats at the plate with a 2-for-3 performance and 2 RBIs.
A single from Verbick in the top of the fourth scored the final Bearkat run of the game and increased the Sam Houston State lead to 6-3.
The Panthers last shot at a victory came in the bottom of the sixth as Springer hit lead-off batter Brandon Whitby, who then advanced to second on a wild pitch.
Whitby was able to score on an error by Zaleski at first, yet the lone run wasn’t enough to spark a rally as the Panthers fell to the Bearkats, 6-4.
After his 20th season as head coach at Texas A&M, Johnson was ranked at No. 21 on the NCAA list of most wins among active coaches in Division I baseball.
Now in his first year at Sam Houston State, Johnson carries a 900-448 career record, including two NCAA College World Series appearances during his tenure with the Aggies.
The Bearkats’ are set to play again this weekend on the road in a three-game conference series with the McNeese State Cowboys, who are currently in second place in the East division of the SLC with a 9-5 conference record.
The Bearkats will return home April 27 against UTSA.