BASEBALL: Cards outhit Bearkats, but cannot produce runs

Published 12:02 am Saturday, March 10, 2018

Lamar sports information

BEAUMONT — Demonstrating why Lamar University (4-11, 0-1 SLC) has the best ERA in the Southland Conference, the Cardinals outhit Sam Houston State (10-4, 1-0 SLC) and held the league’s best hitting team to just one earned run Friday at Vincent-Beck Stadium.

Two errors allowed runs to score in the eighth and ninth innings, allowing the Bearkats to escape with a 3-1 win.

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“I think the lineup is coming together for us,” said head coach Will Davis. “We’ve talked about this repeatedly, but as these young hitters get more at-bats the better they’re going to be. I think you’re seeing that right now. Going into the night we were leading the conference in pitching, and I’m sure we didn’t fall too far off that tonight. These things that we’ve talked about are the reasons why we’re not a bad baseball team. Our record is not reflective of our talent.”

For just the third time all season Lamar allowed a run to score in the first inning. Sam Houston State drew a lead-off walk, then a one-out double put runners on the corners. A sac fly scored the runner on third, giving the Bearkats a 1-0 lead.

Jace Campbell looked largely in control all night, allowing just three hits in six innings to a team that entered Friday averaging a Southland-best 10.5 hits per game. He struck out two and walked three with one earned run.

The Cardinals had several opportunities to tie up the game with base runners in the second, third, and fifth innings, but couldn’t capitalize until the sixth.

With one out Chase Kemp singled to left field, and during Robin Adames’ at-bat advanced twice on wild pitches. Cole Coker smoked a line drive just over the Bearkats’ shortstop with two outs, scoring Kemp with ease. After six innings the game was tied 1-1. Marcus Olivarez relieved Campbell to open the seventh and struck out the first batter he faced.

A 4-1 grounder in the next at-bat notched the second out, and after plunking his third batter he forced a 6-3 groundout to end the inning.

The Cardinals went down in order in the bottom of the seventh, and the score remained tied 1-1. A leadoff walk for Sam Houston advanced to second on a failed pickoff move, and that runner advanced to third on a well-placed bunt single.

Ryan Erickson relieved Olivarez, and a sac fly in the next at-bat again scored a run for the Bearkats, which would prove to be the winning run.

Chase Whetsel drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the eighth, but in a “right place, right time” situation Kemp lined out to the first baseman, who stepped on the bag for the double play.

Heading into the ninth LU trailed SHSU 2-1. The Bearkats doubled to lead off the ninth, and an error allowed that runner to reach third safely.

Though the Cards forced a 6-4-3 double play in the next at-bat, the runner on third scored safely. Erickson struck out the final batter he faced, and Sam Houston held a two-run advantage with three outs left for Lamar.

Adames, Coker, and Cole Secrest all hammered balls deep into the outfield, but with winds blowing into the ballpark none of them made it over the fence. Sam Houston boarded the bus with a 3-1 win despite Lamar outhitting the Bearkats 7-5 and allowing just one earned run.

“It’s going to click for us at some point this year, and we just have to stay positive until it does,” said Davis. “When it finally does click, all we as a coaching staff have to do is stay out of their way. We’re coaching them up hard, we didn’t have any mental mistakes tonight, and the at-bats were really good.”

LHP Noah Sills (2-0, 0.00 ERA) is scheduled to face RHP Riley Gossett (1-0, 4.15 ERA) Saturday at 2 p.m., but inclement weather could play havoc with that schedule. Fans should stay tuned to and @Lamar_Baseball on Twitter for all the latest updates.