Sam Houston State’s eighth inning rally overshadowed Wichita State’s back-to-back first pitch home runs in the top of the seventh inning on opening night.
The Bearkats took game one of the three-game series 8-5 with a strong batting performance in the bottom of the eighth.
“That was a classic Friday night battle,” SHSU head coach Matt Deggs said. “We embrace the grind. We embrace the fight.”
Shockers’ junior second baseman Jordan Farris and junior left fielder Daniel Kihle had the back-to-back dingers with the score tied 3-3 heading into the seventh off Bearkat junior pitcher Juan Cortina. The Shockers could not hold on to the lead as the Kats had a tremendous eighth inning.
“It happened quick,” senior centerfielder Colt Atwood said. “I kind of forgot there were two. It was fine. We laughed it off and moved on in a hurry.”
Sophomore third baseman Ryan Brinley RBI singled down the center to bring the game-winning Bearkat across the plate. A wild pitch brought junior transfer catcher Collin Yelich home before senior center fielder Colt Atwood had a RBI single for his fourth hit of the game. Last year, Atwood did not have a single four-hit game.
“Anything in the zone, I like to swing, which can hurt you or help you,” Atwood said. “Tonight, it helped me.”
Senior pitcher Alex Bisacca took over at the mound in the top of the eighth and pitched a perfect inning, striking out his first batter. That impressive outing earned him the win. Brinley moved to the hill for the ninth inning to finish the win for the Kats.
“It was a dogfight for sure,” Brinley said. “It’s always nice to win opening day at home.”
The win capped the first victory for Deggs at SHSU and improves the Bearkats’ home opener record to 6-4.
“That was special, especially the way we did it,” Deggs said. “It was fun. It was a great win.”
First pitch for game two of the series is set for 3 p.m.