Despite struggles in the lineup, Sam Houston State continued their midweek win streak with help from the long ball.
Bearkat home run leaders Luke Plucheck and Hayden Simerly connected for a pair of three-run homers to edge a 10-7 win over University of Texas-Arlington Tuesday at Don Sanders Stadium.
With runners on first and second with two outs in the bottom of the first, Plucheck hit a towering, 406 foot homer over left center to put SHSU on board 4-0 following a sac fly from Kevin Miller. Plucheck’s sixth homer of the season cushioned the Bearkats’s poor pitching performances from Tyler Eppler and Cody Dickson.
The Mavericks interrupted the Bearkats offensive momentum with a long ball of their own. UTA designated hitter Matt Shortall’s solo homerun in the bottom of the fifth kindled a two-run inning.
Shortall slapped a single into right center in the sixth to continue UTA’s production at the plate for a 6-5 lead into the seventh.
Starter Eppler was scheduled for a maximum of 50 pitches, but two earned runs and walks supplemented run support for the UTA lineup, said Head Coach David Pierce.
“I didn’t think Tyler was sharp at all to start the night,” Pierce said. “I just think we made some mistakes late in counts and we just got to be better there and base on balls is still hurting this team.”
Pierce worked new faces into the lineup and defensive alignments to keep veterans fresh and try upcoming players in the mid-week matchup.
“The biggest reason we put Plumlee at first is because I like to keep Farney in the mix,” Pierce said. “It was just a good combination to go in there. We’ll continue to use multiple players and multiple lineups.”
Right fielder Dirk Masters doubled into left center for his second hit of the season to start the second inning. Masters would finish the night with one hit and two strikeouts.
SHSU’s bullpen struggled to settle in the strike zone and work in off-speed pitches against the heart of the lineup, falling into hitter’s counts late in the game.
Simerly’s three-run homer in the seventh recaptured SHSU’s lead 8-6 and broke pitcher Chase Weaver’s control of the strike-zone.
“He just did a good job with most of us today. He only gave up a couple of hits until the seventh inning when we punched him pretty hard,” Simerly said.
Simerly worked into a full count before connecting for his seventh homer of the season.
“He worked me a lot outside and luckily the ball I hit out was outside and I hooked around it.”
The sophomore’s homer not only sparked a five-run rally, but continued the home run battle with Plucheck.
“We’re constantly joshing each other, because I’ve always had a lead on him,” Simerly said. “Once he ties it up, if not the game or the game after I’ll hit another one. It’s just fun and games.”
SHSU (24-17; 9-6 SLC) will hit the road to face off against Southland Conference rival Northwestern State (11-30; 2-13 SLC) with game one Friday at 6:30 p.m.