The Texas A&M baseball team stumbled out of the gate for the second straight midweek game, and this time it was costly with Sam Houston State winning 8-1 at Blue Bell Park.
Against Columbia last week, Mitchell Nau hit an eighth-inning, game-tying three-run homer when it appeared all was lost. The Aggies (17-9) went on to win 8-7 in 11 innings.
Against the Bearkats (17-8), the Aggies trailed 6-1 in the seventh when catcher Troy Stein appeared to have pulled A&M to within one with a grand slam. But SHSU's Luke Plucheck reached up while standing against the left-field fence and caught the ball just below the yellow stripe on the top of the padded wall.
"I was hoping it would get out because that would have given us the spark that I thought we needed," Stein said. "It didn't happen. That was the big hit we were looking for and needed at that time, but it just didn't happen today and in the end we still feel were good enough to make a run at that team and crawl back into that game with the bullpen we had. They played really good defense tonight, had a couple of great plays in the infield and a couple of great plays in the outfield."
It was the second run-saving catch of the night by Plucheck. In the fourth, he ran into the wall while pulling in Nau's blast with no outs and one on.
The Aggies had to try rallying after the Bearkats sent eight hitters to the plate and scored four runs in the second inning.
After a perfect first inning by A&M starter Ryan Hendrix, Sam Houston catcher Anthony Azar opened the second with a lined shot over the left-field fence. It was his team leading fifth of the season and rattled the freshman right-hander in his first start.
Two walks, a sacrifice bunt and two singles later, A&M pulled Hendrix for left-hander Matt Kent to get out of the inning. He did with minimal damage, allowing a sacrifice fly before escaping the jam with SHSU leading 4-0.
"From the results of the second inning I would say [the homer affected Hendrix]," A&M coach Rob Childress said. "[Hendrix] started throwing through his breaking ball and trying to throw even harder than he was in the first inning, and he threw 93 in the first and looked really good," A&M coach Rob Childress said. "Once Azar hit that ball out, I thought he was shaken. Troy tried to slow him down a little bit, and so did I, and we just weren't able to do it."
Sam Houston took a 5-1 lead in the fifth on a Hayden Simerly double and a Ryan O'Hearn single up the middle. O'Hearn finished with three hits, one less than the Aggies had as a team, and three RBIs.
Plucheck, who batted ninth and knocked in a run in the second, gave SHSU a 6-1 lead in the sixth inning after being hit by a Jason Freeman pitch, stealing second, advancing on a Corey Toups single and scoring on a Ty Schlottmann wild pitch.
Meanwhile, Bearkats closer Jason Simms (1-1), who got the starting nod on Tuesday because he didn't pitch on the weekend in the three losses to Central Arkansas, gave up just three hits in five innings for the win.
"Their Tuesday guy hadn't thrown real well for them, and they are searching too," Childress said. "They went to their closer, and he did a great job. He's not overpowering, but he knows how to pitch and really sink the fastball. He threw enough breaking balls for strikes and just was very composed."