Tyler Eppler pitched seven innings of one-run ball and Travis Lee drove in the game-winning run in the eighth as Sam Houston State defeated Dallas Baptist 2-1 in the opening game of the Fort Worth Regional on Friday.
Brandon Koch, with a 0.48 ERA, came in with one out in the eighth for the Patriots, relieving Josh Urban.
Urban had walked Corey Toups, who then took second base on a sacrifice bunt.
Lee ripped a slider off Koch to center field, breaking the 1-1 tie at Lupton Stadium. Sam Houston advanced to play TCU at 7 p.m. Saturday in the double-elimination NCAA regional. Dallas Baptist plays Siena in the elimination game at 2:30 p.m.
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“I was just trying to clear my head and have fun. I didn’t want to do too much,” Lee said. “I knew it was a slider, so I just tried to stay back and take that pitch out.”
“It was a great-pitched ballgame,” Sam Houston coach David Pierce said. “Both teams pitched well with runners in scoring position, more so than hitters doing their job, so we’re fortunate enough to score one more run than they did.”
Alan Scott pitched two innings for the save, his fifth of the season. He struck out five.
“It’s something I’m not used to. Tyler pitched a heck of a game and I was just fortunate to come in with the lead,” Scott said. “I tried to do what I was doing all season long, throw strikes.”
Scott struck out the side in the eighth and added two more strikeouts in the ninth.
“I was excited, I think it showed a little bit. I still get nervous, pitching some big moments and nerves are just a part of my routine and I love it. It was definitely very exciting,” Scott said.
The Bearkats sent six players to the plate in the second, with Luke Plucheck’s RBI single to shallow center field scoring the game’s first run. Ryan O’Hearn led off with a hit before going to second after Toups’ single.
With two outs, Plucheck hit a blooper that seemed to find the open spot in the outfield to score O’Hearn easily.
Eppler found trouble in the bottom half of the fifth when the Patriots loaded the bases after a David Martinelli double, KJ Alexander’s walk and Camden Duzenack’s third hit of the game to set up Drew Turbin.
Turbin’s fielder’s-choice grounder to second scored Martinelli to knot the score at one.
“There was a lot of momentum shifts during the game, both teams got over it,” Pierce said. “It's a tough deal with a lot of emotions for both teams and when you don’t come through in the clutch, it puts pressure on you, but we were able to get by it and come out on top.”
Cy Sneed pitched effectively for the Patriots, going six innings and allowing one run and eight hits. He struck out four.