Free bases lingered into game two against Baylor University as a late game rally sparked the scoreless Bear lineup over the Bearkats 4-1 Wednesday night.
Starting pitcher Tyler Eppler tossed five complete innings before the Bears’ front three capitalized two runs from two singles and a double into left center power alley to sever Sam Houston State’s 1-0 lead.
The Bearkat bullpen returned to their old ways after completing game one without issuing a walk to snap troubles on the mound from spring break to fall to the University of Connecticut and Dallas Baptist. Reliever Logan Boyd struggled another outing on the rubber, lasting 1/3 of an inning with a walk and an insurance run to extend Baylor’s lead.
Head Coach David Pierce said Eppler made early adjustments to keep SHSU within reach into the fifth inning until the sixth inning rally.
“Eppler was struggling early. He was really a one pitch guy; he could only hit with his fastball and I was really proud of the way he made quick adjustments,” Pierce said. “He did a good job of finding his change-up and finding his curveball, especially his curveball, so he kept us in the game and pitched really well.”
Pierce attributed game two’s loss to another weak performance from the bullpen.
“We’ve got to match up some guys right now, it’s important for us to match up,” Pierce said.
Pierce circulated five pitchers in the series closer.
SHSU’s offense fizzed out early after opening the first with two hits to drive in their first and only run of the night. Third basemen Dalton Perry connected twice tonight but couldn’t find support from the bottom three of the Bearkat lineup. Of SHSU’s seven hits, the top to middle of the lineup supported the Bearkats’ offensive strike.
Despite the poor outing, Pierce remains positive going into Friday’s first conference series against Texas A&M Corpus Christi.
“This is a great series for us. I just thought it was a great two game series; we got the hits [Tuesday] night (4-2) and made a couple of plays late. They did it tonight,” Pierce said. “It gave us an opportunity to get our younger guys in there and I thought they played adequate. But we’ve got enough arms to go into a two game series and I think we benefit from it.”
SHSU will square off against the Islanders for the first of a three game series to kick off their conference schedule Friday at 6:30 p.m.