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March 6, 2014

SHSU BASEBALL — Errors costly for Bearkats against Rice

Bearkats fall 3-2 in rematch with Rice

HUNTSVILLE — In a matchup of nationally ranked teams, Sam Houston State had a chance to improve its position in the college baseball national landscape against Rice.

That didn’t come to pass because of a myriad of errors midway through the game that cost the 28th-ranked Bearkats in an 8-5 loss on Wednesday night.

“Losing’s never fun, but when you beat yourself, that’s never going to help your cause,” said Kats third baseman Carter Burgess. “We just didn’t play catch tonight.”

Eighteenth-ranked Rice retook the lead in the fifth after the Bearkats (10-3 overall) tied it at 2 in the fourth.

With shortstop Leon Byrd in scoring position after drawing a walk, then advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt, left fielder Michael Aquino hit a run-scoring single up the middle.

That’s when costly errors blew the game open.

On Aquino’s run-scoring single, Bearkats center fielder Colt Atwood misthrew a routine toss to the infield that allowed Aquino to reach second.

Owls first baseman Skyler Ewing was intentionally walked and catcher John Clay Reeves hit a grounder to short that could’ve ended the inning. Kats shortstop Jake MacWilliam’s throw to first bounced in the dirt and skidded past first baseman Ryan O’Hearn's glove. That error scored Aquino and put Ewing and Reeves into scoring position.

Rice third baseman Connor Teykl then hit a two-RBI single to left field.

“We’ve been discussing pitching and defense for two weeks and we’ve been dodging bullets,” Sam Houston State head coach David Pierce said. “We made a few really poor pitches with two strikes and it burned us.

"We didn’t take care of the baseball at all tonight. We got what we deserved tonight.”

The Owls (8-5) scored again in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Byrd to give them a 7-2 advantage.

“We hit the ball OK even though we only got seven hits,” Rice head coach Wayne Graham said. “We did all right in the field. We had a couple of errors, too, but we actually fielded OK.”

The Bearkats had chances late in the game to cut into the deficit.

Sam Houston had the bases loaded with two outs in the seventh and pinch hitter Spence Rahm drove in a run with a single through the left side of the infield.

The Kats put together another two-out rally in the eighth and had the bases loaded again.

Burgess connected for a single to center field that scored two runs and pulled Sam Houston to within 8-5.

“I just wanted to get a good pitch to hit there,” Burgess said. “We battled toward the end. We never really gave up,” Burgess said. “I guess another hit here or there is going to bring in a couple of more runs.”

The Bearkats couldn’t get any closer as MacWilliam grounded out to second to end the inning and the Kats were retired in order in the ninth.

Sam Houston State will host Cal State Northridge later this week for their final nonconference weekend series.

“Northridge can really pitch, so we’re going to have to match them with pitching and defense,” Pierce said. “If we’re going where we want to go, we have to shore that up. I feel real good about our lineup. I feel real good about our team.”

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