From SFA Athletics
MANHATTAN, Kan.- Little did he know it at the time, but Tyler Kendrick’s pinch-hit infield RBI single in the top of the fifth pushed the eventual game-winning run across the plate and the relief pitching combo of Austin Hearn and Tyler Starks combined to pitch a scoreless ninth, preserving the Stephen F. Austin baseball team’s 6-5 win over Kansas State on Tuesday night.
The ‘Jacks also erased a three-run deficit in a victory that put the clamps on their four-game losing streak. The squad also succeeded at what had been a major problem for them in those aforementioned losses by protecting a lead late in the game.
Seth Campbell (2-0) secured his second victory of the season by tossing three frames in relief of starterEric Polivka. Campbell did the lion’s share of the bullpen brigade which buoyed Polivka’s start as four SFA arms combined to hold the Big 12 team scoreless in five of its last six sets of at bats.
In grabbing their second win over a Big 12 opponent this season and first-ever triumph over the Wildcats, the ‘Jacks connected on 12 hits with leadoff man Matthew Dickey and left fielder Conner Fikes striking for three each. Designated hitter Zach Valenzuela and Kendrick added two base knocks apiece for the visitors.
Fikes’ first hit of the night resulted in his first of two RBI as his two-out single in the first handed SFA an early 1-0 lead. Polivka escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the frame by inducing an infield pop-up, but the Wildcats did manage to tie things up with an RBI single of their own.
An error coupled with another one-out RBI single staked the hosts to a 2-1 lead by the time the second inning was in the books. The Wildcats added two more in the home half of the third by way of a balk and an RBI groundout. All told, only two K-State runs were of the earned variety on the night.
Trailing 4-1 headed to the top of the fourth, the ‘Jacks sent nine men to the plate and amassed exactly one-third of their hit total to take a lead they would never relinquish. Beginning the frame with three-straight hits – the second of which was an RBI double off the bat of Fikes, SFA trimmed their deficit to just one with an RBI groundout by Jarrod Huber.
Following SFA’s second out of the inning, Brandon Erickson came on for K-State starter Jacob Ruder and Dickey greeted the Wildcats’ new arm with a two-run single to center, giving the ‘Jacks the lead for good.
The biggest threat presented by the Wildcats came in the eighth when a bases-loaded walk made it a one-run game. Following that base on balls, Hearn came on for Anthony Soriano and got a fielder’s choice ball in the infield to get out of the frame.
No Wildcat had more than one hit while Fikes and Dickey amassed two RBI each.
SFA will wrap up its two-game, midweek series at Kansas State on Wednesday afternoon at 3:00 p.m.Cody Adams will get the start for the ‘Jacks.