There sure were a lot of crooked numbers on the scoreboard at Don Sanders Stadium on Friday night. Fortunately for the home fans, the Bearkats hung more of those funny numbers than Central Arkansas did in a 10-9 slugfest won by Sam Houston State.

Todd Sebek and Nick Zaleski combined for five hits, four runs and six RBIs to lead the Bearkats past the Bears in the Southland Conference opener for both teams. Keith Stein, Jaime Rohlmeier and Ryan Weber added two hits apiece for SHSU, which improved to 10-6 on the season.

Sebek, who extended his hitting streak to 16 games (17, if last season’s finale at Ole Miss counts), went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and three runs driven in, while Zaleski added a pair of hits and three more RBIs. Catcher Mark Wyatt provided the biggest bop in the Bearkats’ 14-hit parade, cracking a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth after Central Arkansas scored six runs in the top of the fourth.

“My first two at-bats, I didn’t come up ready to hit so I told myself I’ve got to be ready. I geared up for a first-pitch fastball and I guess it worked out,” Wyatt said.

Worked out? Did it ever.

Wyatt lifted the first pitch he saw from Central Arkansas reliever Matt Humphrey high into the sky. The ball landed in right field on the Bearkats’ Softball Complex, a good 50 feet beyond the left-field fence at Sanders Stadium.

The Kats tagged on two more runs in that inning when Sebek slapped a two-run double to score both Rohlmeier and Weber. SHSU got one more run in the seventh inning when Zaleski drew a bases-loaded walk, then relievers Zac Baker and Casey Springer closed out the Bears.

“Our offense is one of our stronger points,” said Sebek, who raised his average to .408 on Friday. “We know we’re going to have games when our offense is off and our pitchers will pick us up. Those guys are getting better. There’s a learning curve that comes with just being young. They are learning fast, though, and we demand that. We have been really encouraged by the improvements they’re making.”

Sophomore Ryan Tepera started on the mound for SHSU. The right-hander from Lake Jackson pitched well for three innings, but he ran into trouble in the fourth. Central Arkansas hit Tepera hard, scoring six runs off him before coach Mark Johnson brought freshman Justin Jackson out of the Bearkat bullpen.

Jackson, who picked up the win, gave his team three solid innings, but he walked two consecutive batters in the eighth, forcing Johnson to make another pitching change. Those two runners eventually scored, but Baker made the pitch of the game when he fanned the Bears’ leading hitter, Scott Cline, looking with the bases loaded.

Springer gave up a leadoff hit to Jonathan Yerby in the ninth, but the senior from Montgomery coaxed Chris Houk to bounce into a double play before retiring ninth hitter Payton Seelinger for the game’s final out.

“This was not your typical Friday night game. It wasn’t 3-2, it was 10-9,” a relieved Johnson said prior to a meeting with his assistant coaches. “The double play was an important part of this game. That helped us quite a bit tonight.

“Bake (Zac Baker) got it done, then Springer got it done. I thought Todd Sebek got some key hits. He hit the ball hard and stole some bases. Weber had a good night hitting, and Wyatt’s home run gave us some momentum and some breathing room.”

Yerby and Cline led the Central Arkansas offense, collecting two hits and two RBIs apiece. Graham Martin added a pair of hits and scored two runs for the Bears, and Kevin Rawls added a pair of hits and an RBI.

The Bearkats and Bears will be back at it today at 2 p.m. in the second game of a three-game series. Guillauame Duguay, a junior right-hander from Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, is scheduled to start for SHSU. Duguay has pitched in two games this season and is 0-0 with an 0.00 earned run average.

Right-hander Bobby Pritchett (2-1, 2.41) is scheduled to pitch for Central Arkansas.

Recommended for you