Baseball: Great relief work helps Horns grab W

Texas reverted to its light-hitting ways Friday at the Disch, but a clutch eighth-inning single from <B>Eric Sultemeier</B> and a dominant relief pitching performance from <B>Jesen Merle</B> allowed the Horns to pull out a 3-2 win over Sam Houston.

Merle took over for starter Tim McGough with two outs in the fourth, and after allowing a run-scoring single to the first batter he faced, pitched to the minimum from there on out to pick up his first win in three appearances. Sam Houston's only baserunner came in the fifth off a Merle walk, but the Navarro transfer promptly picked him off first and retired the final 13 Bearkats he faced.

"Jesen Merle really became dominant by the end of the game," Augie Garrido said postgame.

Sultemeier drove in two of UT's three runs, laying down a beautiful two-out, third-inning bunt that scored Kalani Napoleon from third and then lining a two-out single to left that plated Tim Moss with the game-winning run in the eighth. The Horns also scored a single spot in the seventh when J.D. Reininger tripled to the right field gap, also with two outs, to score Ryan Hubele from first.

McGough, who earned the Horns' lone win at Enron last weekend with a solid relief performance against Houston, got the starting call Friday vs. Sam Houston but, as Garrido said post-game, the sophomore rightie "did not have his best stuff." McGough struggled in the first, loading the bases with one out after two Bearkat singles and a walk, but he forced SHSU's Dustin Craig into a 4-6-3, inning-ending double play. After retiring seven straight, McGough ran into trouble again in the fourth and he didn't make it out of the inning. Lou Ferrell singled to leadoff the inning and with two outs, Jeremy Locke singled to score Ferrell from second. McGough walked Kevin Eddlemon, bringing pitching coach Frank Anderson to the mound, where he called on reliever Merle to shut down the SHSU threat. Merle, before his unhittable streak, gave up an 0-2 single to Carroll Kelly, allowing the Bearkats to take their only lead of the game at 2-1. Tough-luck loser Jeff Vanlandingham went the distance for SHSU, giving up just six hits in his eight innings of work.

Texas (5-2) and Sam Houston continue their three-game set with a 1:00 meeting Saturday at the Disch.

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