HUNTSVILLE, Texas - An RBI single by Ryan O'Hearn scored Greg Olsen for the game-winner with no outs in the bottom of the 11th inning as Sam Houston State rallied from a 3-0 deficit to beat Northwestern State 4-3 here Friday night in Southland Conference baseball action.
The loss handed the Demons their first conference series loss of the season while Sam Houston State has opened up a three-game lead over NSU in the league standings.
The Demons (12-16, 9-5 SLC) led 3-0 going into the bottom of the sixth inning, a lead that was fueled by the superb pitching of starter Jacob Roark. But the 24th ranked Bearkats (22-9, 12-2), who won for the 11th consecutive time, got to Roark with two down in the sixth when Anthony Azar belted a two-run homer to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Roark entered the game having given up only one earned run in the last 12.1 innings and did not allow one through 5.1 innings on Friday before giving up the home run. He finished the game with two walks and six strikeouts and surrendered three hits.
Joe Scanio relieved Roark after the hit and got out of the inning, then tossed a scoreless seventh as head coach J.P. Davis went to closer Mason Melotakis in the eighth inning to try to close things out.
Instead, the Bearkats tied things up at 3-3 when Toups, who led off the eighth with an infield single, scored off a wild pitch.
The Demons, who gathered nine hits in the game and outhit the league's top-hitting team for the second straight contest, got a two-out single by Will Watson in the ninth to start a rally. He later stole second and attempted to score on Nick Hinojos' single up the middle but was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
Melotakis (1-2) got the Bearkats down in order in the ninth and 10th innings but gave up three straight hits in the bottom of the 11th to end the game.
Jordan Bunch (1-0) got the win for SHSU as the third pitcher to see action for the Bearkats. He threw two perfect innings with two strikeouts to secure the win. Starter Caleb Smith gave up three runs, one earned, on six hits with five walks and eight strikeouts.
NSU went up 1-0 in the second inning after left field Nick Doughty led things off with a single and Ray Frias followed by reaching after being hit by a pitch. After a couple of fielder's choice outs, center fielder Drew Helenihi singled to left field to score Frias to put the Demons on the board.
The Demons took advantage of Bearkat errors in the fifth and sixth innings to make it 3-0 before Sam Houston's offense opened up in the bottom of the sixth.
The Demons will attempt to get one win out of the series in Saturday's finale with the first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m.