Sam Houston State baseball remains in the top echelon in Southland Conference rankings claiming the third spot after clenching a three game series 2-1 against Stephen F. Austin this weekend.
The Bearkats, led by the bat of Jesse Plumlee (.636 BA v SFA) defeated the Lumberjacks 5-3, and 14-4 (7IP) Friday and Saturday in Nacogdoches.
Starting ace pitcher Cody Dickson pitched seven innings in game one, allowing three runs off four hits in an early Lumberjack rally, but maintained a strong arsenal to quiet SFA’s lineup for the Bearkats to attack. Plumlee evened the board 2-2 in the top of the third with a homerun against SFA starter Chase Greening (2.95 ERA). SHSU rallied in the top of the fifth and sixth to extend their lead 5-3 to close out game one.
Despite a complete game performance from Andrew Godail, SHSU’s lineup was silent during game two.
A pitching duel between Lumberjack starter Kyle Cross and Godail resulted in a nine hit game between the conference rivals as SFA edged out a 2-0 victory.
“[Godail] just got into a groove and competed really hard. He’s been very, very consistent for us,” SHSU Head Coach David Pierce said. “He just needs to work around the base on balls.”
Godail issued six walks against the Lumberjacks but compensated with 10 strikeouts.
Lumberjack shortstop Hunter Dozier found holes in the Bearkat pitching rotation to continue his 13 game hitting streak to 16.
Dozier connected for a homerun in the bottom of the fifth inning in game two after outfielder Jackson Hood drove in the first run for SFA in the bottom of the second.
According to Pierce, Dozier sparked the Lumberjacks and troubled the Bearkats pitching rotation.
“Dozier is the best hitter in the league right now. We just kind of pressed at home plate and they did a good job,” Pierce said.
At the plate, Plumlee hit three for three but received little support from the heart and bottom of the Bearkat lineup.
Third basemen Kevin Miller, left fielder Luke Plucheck and centerfielder Colt Atwood swung for base hits but struggled to drive in runs.
Plumlee currently leads the Bearkats in hitting with a .400 batting average and two homeruns.
“He’s doing a great job with pitches that are mistakes,” Pierce said. “He’s putting the ball in play with two strikes. He’s really seeing the ball well and he’s a good leader for us.”
Base-on-balls and errors burdened the Bearkats bullpen, leading to two consecutive series losses against University of Connecticut and Dallas Baptist earlier in the season. Against Rice University and SFA, SHSU’s relievers pitched a quiet six-and-two-thirds innings.
“We’re getting deep with our starters,” Pierce said. “We’re 3-1 on the week and that’s always a good week. We’re at the halfway point right now; we’d like to think we have a chance to play consistent baseball. Most of our mistakes defensively are careless.”
SHSU dropped their home-opener 3-6 against the Cougars after innings of pitching woes. According to Pierce, his Bearkats are a better team compared to February.
“I think we’re a better team right now no doubt and they are as well,” Pierce said.
Bearkat baseball will return to Don Sanders Stadium Friday for a three game series against conference opponent McNeese State. Pierce said battling McNeese’s pitching will be key for the Bearkats with new faces in the Cowboy bullpen.
“They’re really pitching well and they have been and it seems that they’ve gotten hot since conference started,” Pierce said. “They pitched well last year and I think they’ve picked up a couple of guys to add to their bullpen.”
The Bearkats will square off against University of Houston Tuesday in Houston.