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March 12, 2014

SHSU BASEBALL — Long night against UTSA

UTSA homers twice, upsets 24th-ranked Kats

HUNTSVILLE — Pretty much anything that could’ve gone wrong for the 24th-ranked Bearkats did on Tuesday night.

Sam Houston State again struggled with fielding and throwing errors, couldn’t produce enough at the plate with runners aboard the basepaths and wasn’t as sharp on the mound.

Those things collided and resulted in a 9-2 loss against UTSA at Don Sanders Stadium.

“They kind of looked like they had more energy than us. They looked hot and we were throwing some balls around. They took advantage of our mistakes,” said Kats shortstop Jake MacWilliam, who went 2-for-4.

The Roadrunners got on board in the top of the first inning due to a couple of Bearkat fielding and throwing errors.

Leadoff hitter John Welborn hit the ball to the right-center-field gap where right fielder Hayden Simerly bobbled the ball when he tried to pick it up. That gave Welborn enough time to grab an extra base off the double and was positioned at third to kick off the inning.

Then center fielder Jesse Baker hit a chopper that Kats shortstop Jake MacWilliam fielded nearly on the outfield grass, which allowed Welborn to score. MacWilliam’s throw was offline and Baker advanced to second. Baker came around to score when shortstop Horacio Correa III doubled down the left-field line.

UTSA tacked on a few more runs in the third when catcher John Bormann blasted a three-run homer over the left-field wall.

Bormann, who had yet to homer this season and had just three extra-base hits this season prior to Tuesday’s game, blasted another home run in the fifth to nearly the same spot, this one of a two-run variety to up the Roadrunners’ lead to 7-0.

“It felt good. In my first at-bat, it felt like I was just a couple of inches away on the barrel,” Bormann said. “Today, it was nice to get rewarded with good swings.

“I was frustrating myself by not getting the fastballs that I got early in the count. I don’t know what I did different, but I was able to catch up to them tonight and put a good swing on them.”

Sam Houston State starting pitcher Ryan Brinley, who limited nationally ranked Rice to just two hits and one run in seven innings a little more than two weeks ago, wasn’t as sharp Tuesday as he has been.

The Roadrunners roughed up Brinley for seven hits and four earned runs in 2 2/3 innings.

“That’s tough. When that happens, it kind of takes the wind out of your sails,” MacWilliam said. “I believe we’re strong enough to come back from that, but tonight we just weren’t able to fight. We kind of gave up. I believe in that situation, if it comes up and we play them again, we’ll be a whole different team.”

The Bearkats (13-4 overall) finally got on the board in the fifth inning.

Following a leadoff single by designated hitter Dalton Perry, Kats center fielder Colt Atwood singled to center field. Baker approached the ball and couldn’t get his glove down, allowing the ball to continue to roll in center field.

Perry scored and Atwood moved up to second.

Roadrunners head coach Jason Marshall made a pitching change from starter Boone Mokry in favor of reliever Logan Onda. Sam Houston couldn’t generate any more offense in the inning as first baseman Ryan O’Hearn struck out and catcher Anthony Azar grounded out to short.

UTSA (12-5) regained its seven-run advantage in the sixth when third baseman R.J. Perucki hit a run-scoring chopper over third baseman Carter Burgess’ head, driving in Baker from third.

The Roadrunners kept finding ways to score and added another run in the seventh, extending the lead to 9-1.

With runners on first and second with no outs, left fielder Tony Ramirez hit a grounder to the right side of the infield. O’Hearn fielded the ball and attempted to get two outs on the play, but his throw to second went into the dirt and rolled toward the shortstop.

Logan Kinder, who pinch hit for designated hitter Michael Matulia in the fifth and led off the inning with an infield single, scored and everybody was safe, leaving the Roadrunners again with runners on first and second and no outs.

The Bearkats got on the board again in the home half of the seventh.

With runners on first and second, Azar hit a liner toward short that took a sharp bounce and flew into center field.

Left fielder Luke Plucheck, who singled to lead off the inning, scored to pull Sam Houston to within 9-2.

The Bearkats finished the game with 11 hits, but left nine stranded on the bases.

“Their pitchers did their jobs,” MacWilliam said. “They threw to spots when they needed an out. We were swinging at tough pitches.

“Usually we come up big in that situation and we produce runs, but tonight they just weren’t falling. We got out of our element a little bit.”

Tuesday’s game held significance for the Roadrunners since third-base coach Jim Blair was an assistant coach for the Bearkats under former head coach Mark Johnson’s tutelage from 2007-11 and first-base coach Nick Zaleski played first base for Sam Houston from 2006-09.

“We give them a hard time all the time, just them being from Sam. I think they’ve still got some allegiance coming back here,” Borrman said. “They were happy for us.

“Coming out and beating a ranked opponent is always something that gets us fired up and ready to play.”

The Kats have a few days to fix some of their shortcomings before hitting the road for their Southland Conference opening series at New Orleans.

The weekend series against the Privateers gets underway Friday at 6:30 p.m.

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