WACO, Texas (Press Release) - Four times in 2017, the Stephen F. Austin baseball team won a game on the last at bat. Unfortunately, it was their opponent who did so on Tuesday night.
Just three outs stood between the ‘Jacks and their first-ever win against Baylor, but the Bears had other ideas as Kameron Esthay and Davis Wendzel smacked back-to-back solo home runs in the bottom of the ninth inning sending SFA to a heartbreaking 2-1 setback at Baylor Ballpark.
A pitcher’s duel right from the beginning, the ‘Jacks stood toe-to-toe with the Bears through eight-and-a-half frames. Erik Nouis got the start and tossed 4.1 innings of three-hit, shutout baseball in SFA’s first matchup with the Bears since 2009.
Baylor countered with freshman Hayden Kettler who pitched three perfect innings before handing things over to Joe Heineman. He fired a one, two, three top of the fourth before the ‘Jacks finally broke through for their only run of the night.
Josh Evans busted up both the no-hit bid and the shutout for the Bears in the top of the fifth when his RBI double down the right field line drove Michener in from first and made matters 1-0. Michener reached on a misplayed grounder by Baylor third baseman Davis Wendzel just before Evans stepped up to the dish.
The only extra-base hit of the night for the ‘Jacks looked like it would be more than enough the way SFA’s pitchers were keeping the Bears’ bats in check. Nouis exited after getting the first out of the fifth inning, giving way to Seth Campbell who turned in a masterful relief outing. The sophomore stymied Baylor for 2.2 innings, racking up a career-best six strikeouts and allowing just one baserunner on a walk in the home seventh.
Baylor threatened in the bottom of the eighth when Austin Hagy issued a leadoff walk to Tucker Cascadden, but sophomore Tyler Starks came in to kill the Bears’ rally. The hard-throwing sophomore registered the first out on a sacrifice bunt and Michener aided him in a big way for the second, covering a great deal of distance to make a sliding catch in foul ground.
With Cascadden at third after Michener’s hustle play, Starks fanned Shea Langeliers to end the frame.
Alex Hrinevich, the reigning Southland Conference Hitter of the Week, notched the only other SFA hit of the night - a two-out single in the top of the seventh. Starks suffered the tough-luck loss for SFA - his first of 2017 - to move to 2-1 on the season.
The ‘Jacks wrap up their four-game road trip by heading to Corpus Christi, Texas, for a three-game Southland Conference series against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Patrick Ledet will get the ball for SFA in the opening game of the set Friday night at 6:00 p.m.