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March 8, 2014

SAM HOUSTON STATE BASEBALL — Bearkats back on track

Eppler throws shutout; Sam Houston beats Cal State Northridge 6-0 in series opener

HUNTSVILLE — After a pair of tough losses to nationally ranked Texas and Rice this week, the Bearkats needed to bounce back in a big way.

Sam Houston State scored six runs, while starting pitcher Tyler Eppler pitched a shutout and the 28th-ranked Kats beat Cal State Northridge 6-0 on Friday night.

“Today was really good for us. The hitters had a good approach against a pretty good lefthander (Jerry Keel),” Bearkats right fielder Hayden Simerly said. “I think we played great as a team. It’s a great way to bounce back after those two losses.

Eppler gave up just three hits in nine innings, while just walking one batter and also striking out one.

“It was good. I was locating all of my pitches today,” said Eppler, who threw an efficient 98 pitches. “I was getting ahead a lot. They’re a team that doesn’t like getting 0-2 counts and they don’t strike out, so I was just throwing quality pitches and letting them get themselves out.”

Sam Houston State (11-3 overall) first got on the board in the second inning.

Following a pair of one-out walks by left fielder Luke Plucheck and second baseman Ryan Farney, center fielder Colt Atwood roped a liner down the right-field line to score a pair of runs.

The Kats then broke the game wide open in the fourth inning.

Again, Plucheck and Farney got free passes after getting hit by a pitch and drawing a walk, respectively.

Following an ill attempt at a sacrifice fly by pinch hitter Wyatt Powell, Atwood loaded the bases on a bunt toward the right side of the infield.

With a full count, catcher Anthony Azar walked to stretched the lead to 3-0.

After first baseman Ryan O’Hearn struck out swinging, right fielder Hayden Simerly cleared the bases with a sharply hit grounder along the third-base line that extended the lead to 6-0.

“I thought we did a great job. Most people don’t realize that Keel was an All-American last year and he’s got great stuff,” Bearkats head coach David Pierce said. “Our blueprint was to get him out of the game early and he threw close to 140 pitches in six innings.”

The Matadors (6-8) couldn’t muster much of a rally the rest of the way and Eppler retired the last nine batters he faced in order.

Sam Houston and Cal State Northridge play the second game of the series today with a scheduled start time of noon.

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