For the second day in a row, Sam Houston State took a big lead and managed to hold Abilene Christian 15-13 in a semi-final game of the Southland Conference baseball tournament on Saturday in Hammond, Louisiana.
The fifth-seeded Bearkats (30-24) advance to face seventh-seeded McNeese for the tournament title and the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
The loss ended ACU’s historic season and its first appearance in a Division I playoff tournament. It was the Wildcats’ last game as a Southland Conference team. They will join Sam Houston, Lamar and Stephen F. Austin at the Western Athletic Conference next season.
Sam Houston has won four straight games since losing Game 1 to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 4-3. The Bearkats have scored 43 points in their last three games.
A day after Sam Houston took a 10-0 lead after two innings and battled the Wildcats for a 14-12 victory, inflicting the seeded ACU’s first tournament loss, the Bearkats got another quick start. This time, they scored four runs in the first two innings to lead 8-0.
ACU responded low in the second, getting Brett Hammit a three-run homerun to make it an 8-3 game.
Sam Houston didn’t let go, scoring four more runs in the fourth for a 12-3 lead.
Much like Friday, the ACU collapsed on Bearkat’s head – getting a run in the bottom of third and three more in the fourth to squeeze within five at 12-7.
The teams traded singles in the fifth, before Sam Houston got two runs in the seventh for a 15-9 lead.
ACU is not gone. Miller Ladusau hit a grand slam late in the seventh, making it a two-point game.
But Garrett Egli and Lance Lusk each pitched a scoreless inning to thwart the Wildcats.
Hammit, who went 3-for-4 at home with two doubles and a homerun, tied Ladusau’s four RBIs. He also scored three times. Tommy Cruz had two of his team’s 16 hits and led by two runs. Mitchell Dixon, the ACU’s first hitter, had three hits, one RBI and one run. Bryson Hill had two hits and a run. Grayson Tatrow and Colton Eager both had a hit, an RBI, and a run.
Sam Houston, who hit five of the game’s eight home runs on Friday, got home runs from Bryce Holmes and Colton Cowser on Saturday. Gavin Johnson had two hits and four RBIs, while Mason Shulz had three hits and three RBIs, and Clayton Chadwick had three hits and two RBIs.
The Bearkats had 16 total hits.
ACU starter Spencer Chirpich (6-5) took the loss, giving up six runs on five hits and two marches in one set. Steven Beard (1-2), the Bearkats’ second pitcher of the game, took the win. He allowed one run on three hits in a ⅓ of innings after starter Tyler Davis was roughed up for seven runs on six hits in three innings.
Egli pitched 1 scoreless inning eless before Lusk got his second straight save and ninth overall, striking out all three batters he faced in the ninth.
ACU (36-21) enjoyed their first winning season since their 29-24 final year at the Division II Lone Star Conference. It was also the last time the Wildcats qualified for a conference tournament.
The 36 wins is a Division I school record for wins in a season, and the Wildcats won their first Division I regular-season conference title this year.
At Pat Kennelly Diamond at Alumni Field, Hammond, La.
Game 1 – No 4 Texas A & M-Corpus Christi 5, No 5 Sam Houston State 4
Game 2 – N ° 1 ACU 7, N ° 8 Lamar 1
Game 3 – No. 7 McNeese 12, No. 2 New Orleans 0 (8)
Game 4 – No. 3 Southeast Louisiana 2, No. 6 Northwestern State 1
Game 5 – Sam Houston 7, Lamar 4 (Lamar eliminated)
Game 6 – New Orleans 14, Northwestern State 2 (Northwester State eliminated)
Game 7 – ACU 4, Texas A and M-Corpus Christi 3
Game 8 – McNeese 3, Southeast Louisiana 2
Game 9 – Sam Houston 14, Texas A & M-Corpus Christi 2 (Texas A & M-Corpus Christi eliminated)
Game 10 – Southeast Louisiana 15, New Orleans 13 (New Orleans eliminated)
Thu 11 – Sam Houston 14, ACU 12
Thu 12 – McNeese 18, Southeast Louisiana 2 (Southeast Louisiana eliminated)
Thu 13 – Sam Houston 15, ACU 13 (ACU eliminated)
Thu 14 – McNeese (31-28) vs. Sam Houston (30-24), (n)