The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

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February 20, 2014

SHSU BASEBALL — Kats return to ‘The Don’

Undefeated Kats begin three-game series against Patriots

HUNTSVILLE — A pair of undefeated baseball squads will square off in a three-game weekend series when Sam Houston State hosts Dallas Baptist at Don Sanders Stadium starting tonight at 6:30 p.m. Game two is scheduled for Saturday at 4 p.m. with the series finale Sunday at 1 p.m.

The 5-0 start for Sam Houston is tied for the second best in school history, after the Bearkats won their first five games in 1977, 1987 and 2009. The 1977 team had the best start ever for a Kat baseball squad, going 6-0 to open the season.

“It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, it’s tough to sweep a four-game series,” head coach David Pierce said. “We did a nice job of being consistent, pounding the strike zone and getting timely hits. Then McNeese popped us in the mouth pretty good early but we just stayed the course. It’s great to be out to 5-0 and it’s great for us to build off of that. We’re going to be tested in the next eight games.”

Sam Houston is coming off of an 18-run performance against McNeese State Tuesday, the highest scoring output since the Bearkats beat Houston 18-16 in 2009. Every Sam Houston starter got a hit in the game and all except for Plucheck had two hits.

Toups finished the game 2-for-3 with five RBI and three runs scored. The sophomore shortstop also hit his first career home run. Plucheck, Atwood, Burgess and Pierce each drove in two runs apiece. It was the third consecutive game that Sam Houston scored five runs or more in the sixth inning.

The Bearkats have been consistent from top to bottom to start the season. Their .341 team batting average is second in the Southland while their 2.00 ERA is tops in the league.

“I think all of us as coaches are looking for consistency. I think that maturity and consistency are things that go together. With our team’s maturity we should be more consistent. We’re really seeing that. It’s an older team that understands that it’s a sprint during the game but it’s a marathon in the season.”

Dallas Baptist is averaging nearly 14 runs a game after they scored 19 in each of their first two games against Mississippi Valley State. The Dallas Baptist pitching staff has allowed just six runs through the first four games, which is less than two runs per game.

Freshman second baseman Camden Duzenack leads the Patriots with a .688 batting average with 13 RBI and seven doubles. The first-year player has done most of his damage while hitting ninth in the batting order.

Most recently Dallas Baptist picked up a narrow, 2-1, home win over Grambling. The Patriots and Tigers were tied 1-1 in the eighth inning before Dallas Baptist catcher Daniel Salters hit his second home run of the season.

“Dallas Baptist is always a very good program. They’re a quality team with quality players and they have always had power arms. Their numbers are silly right now, with the team hitting .358 with an ERA of 1.00 versus two SWAC opponents. I think that’s a combination of their opponents and their own abilities.”

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