Coming off a 2-1 series victory over Nicholls State, Sam Houston State baseball plays a home-and-home series with Rice beginning today in Houston.
The 12-13 Bearkats head into the two-game series after a 4-3 loss at home Sunday to the Colonels.
The 16-9 Owls have dropped three of their last four games and are currently ranked 14th in the nation.
“Rice is a great program, it’ll be a great challenge and a good test for us,” SHSU head coach Matt Deggs said. “I expect us to come out and get after it.”
The Owls have a .314 team batting average while the Kats are batting .291. Both teams have a team ERA over 3.00. Rice pitchers have an ERA of 3.19, while the Kats are pitching 3.38.
Rice is currently second in Conference USA but have the most conference wins with a 7-2 record. SHSU is tied for third in the SLC with a 6-3 record.
“Rice is a good team,” senior outfielder Colt Atwood said. “It’ll be nice to get a couple wins this week.”
First pitch today is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Reckling Park while the series concludes Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Don Sanders Stadium
What happened over the weekend:
Due to weather, SHSU and Nicholls played a doubleheader Friday and concluded the series Sunday.
In game one, the Kats jumped to an early lead to score the first run of the game in the first inning. Afterwards, the Kats struggled at the plate as Nicholls’ starter Grant Borne allowed only four hits in the entire game.
The Colonels tied the game in the seventh inning, but the Kats found momentum in the bottom of the ninth inning. Junior Miles Manning knocked an RBI single to seal the walkoff victory for the Kats, his first walk-off of his career.
SHSU senior pitcher Andrew Godail pitched a gem in game one, allowing only five hits in his seven innings on the mound. Godail struck out five and allowed only one run in his outing without issuing a walk. Senior relief pitcher Alex Bisacca finished the final two innings without giving up a run as he struck out two.
In the second game, the Kats erupted for a six-run lead after two innings and never looked back, winning 6-1.
With the sweep Friday, the Kats already clinched the series victory before heading into Sunday’s game.
In the series finale, SHSU junior starting pitcher Ryan Brinley gave up four runs, leaving junior Hayden Nixon to replace him before the first inning even concluded.
“I knew I had to come in and keep the game close,” Nixon said. “When my name is called on, I’m going to go do my job. I’m thankful that coach gave me that opportunity [Sunday] to go out there”
Nixon allowed only two hits and struck out three as he finished the game out for the Kats. Nixon’s eight and one-third innings pitched was a career high for the transfer from Panola Junior College.
“I thought Hayden Nixon stepped in and pitched tremendously,” Deggs said. “That’s as well of a pitched game I’ve seen all year. He deserved the win right there.”
Despite Nixon’s strong performance, the Kats could not fight all the way back from their four-run deficit. SHSU scored three runs in the third inning but eventually fell to the Colonels 4-3, failing to get the series sweep.
“It would’ve been nice to take all three, but we’ll take two,” Atwood said. “We got to really take some positives out of this game even though we lost.”
The Kats have won three weekend series in the season and move to 6-3 in the SLC.