Kats sweep Middle Tennessee for CUSA victory

Apr. 21—HUNTSVILLE — After locking down the series victory on Saturday, Sam Houston needed to come back and get a sweep over Middle Tennessee to dig out of a hole in Conference USA play.

After dropping three straight CUSA series, and three of their last four games, the Bearkats used an 18-run weekend to balance out the ship and get back to 7-8 in CUSA play.

Sam Houston took the series with a 4-3 Friday win, an 11-1 Saturday win in eight innings and a 3-2 Sunday win.

"It was a big weekend coming in, and for us to come out with three wins is huge," Sam Houston coach Jay Sirianni said. "They are an offensive bunch and I thought we pitched the ball well all weekend. We did enough on offense to win Friday and today as well."

Sirianni gave the Sunday start to Marshall Wales, who missed nearly a month with an injury, for his second consecutive weekend start. Wales was dominant to start and faced the minimum through the first three innings. His lone blemish was a single that was covered up with a double play.

Wales started to lose his touch the second time through the lineup.

MTSU led off the fourth with a single from Eston Snider and followed that with a sac bunt to move the runner over. With one out and a runner in scoring position, the Blue Raiders continued to press.

Wales was tagged for both of his runs in the frame and gave up the lead. Sirianni gave him the fifth and prompted a visit from Sirianni to the mound with runners on first and second for MTSU. Wales threw one pitch to get an out and end the threat.

"He's done a good job of getting back to it and working. He is doing what we need him to do on Sundays, fill the strike zone and create weak contact. He's done a good job so far," Sirianni said.

For the final four innings, Sirianni tossed four arms, each getting one inning a piece, to keep the Blue Raiders at bay and work for a win.

Miles Hellums was the first reliever out of the pen and allowed one hit. He was the lone arm to give up one. Wyatt Tucker, Logan Hewitt and Chandler David were the remaining three pitchers to end the game, with Hewitt giving up a walk.

Sam Houston starters led the way this weekend as both Coltin Atkinson and Michael Watson went over six innings in their starts to save the bullpen.

Similar to the Sunday game, Sam Houston tossed Tucker, Hewitt and David to close out the Friday game. Ryan Peterson was the lone relief arm in the shortened Saturday game.

Offense for the Kats did what they needed to do to get the series win. The Bearkats won the Friday and Sunday games by one run each time. With the four runs Friday and three runs Sunday, it wasn't for a lack of trying.

Sam Houston reached base 27 times in the two games and left 16 runners on the bases. Leaving guys on has been a problem as Sam Houston has left 304 runners on this year.

But the offense showed what it is capable of as they run-ruled the Saturday game with the help of Malachi Lott, Jace Martinez and Jeffery David driving in two runs a piece.

Sunday's win was capped off with an RBI double from Caleb Cotton to give the Bearkats a 3-2 lead in the sixth.

"The Saturday run rule takes us a while to wake up on Sundays. But you have to find a way to win. You take any of them you can get," Sirianni said.

Sweeping MTSU gives the Bearkats their second CUSA series win this season, and puts them in a prime spot as they have started the back half of play. Sam Houston sits 7-8 and has a three-game cushion over the bottom teams.

But they still sit four games out of the first-place spot as they travel to Ruston to battle Louisiana Tech next. The 'Dogs are coming off a series win over Dallas Baptist and in second place in CUSA.

With three CUSA series left, Sam Houston will have to keep up its winning ways.

"You have three series left and it was a 30-game war for the longest time. Now it's a 24-game war and a sprint. Going into it, we had a tough front and now we have to get after it," Sirianni said.

The Bearkats will start a five-game road stand, beginning with a midweek against Baylor. The Bearkats are Bears have first pitch scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Waco. The last time the squads met, Sam Houston left with an 18-3 win.