June 1, 2014
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#25 Sam Houston State shook off a devastating 22-inning loss to TCU early Sunday morning to end Siena's improbable season Sunday afternoon. The Bearkats scored five times in the second inning and held off several Siena rallies, punching their ticket to the finals of the Fort Worth Regional and a rematch with the host Horned Frogs with a 9-2 triumph.
"It's a special year," senior captain Vincent Citro said after the loss. "We won the (MAAC) Tournament, and not a lot of people thought we were going to do that. I don't think a whole lot of people outside of our dugout thought we were going to stand a chance in this Tournament, but we took TCU to the wire (losing 2-1 in 11 innings), beat (Dallas) Baptist and had these guys on the ropes too, we just didn't get the big hits."
A day after rallying from seven runs down to claim the first NCAA win in program history, the Saints found themselves in another big early hole.
SHSU chased starter Bryan Goossens with six hits in their five-run second, but they wouldn't get another until the seventh inning thanks to another brilliant effort from a Siena reliever.
Sophomore Kyano Cummings induced an inning-ending double play to avoid more damage in the second and then put up four straight zeroes, giving the Saints every chance to rally.
"Our bullpen has been outstanding all year long," Siena coach Tony Rossi said. "(Kyano) did a great job, just like Neil Fryer yesterday, he kept us close."
MAAC Rookie of the Year Dan Swain delivered a two-run double in the fourth to cut the lead to 5-2, but he was one of nine men the Saints left stranded from the fourth through seventh innings.
"We had our chances," Rossi said. "We've been doing this all year long and this time we ran out of gas and ran out of time."
The biggest chance came in the fifth when Brian Fay launched a towering drive into the Texas sky with the bases loaded and two outs. SHSU right fielder Travis Lee chased the ball down in the middle of the warning track at spacious Lupton Stadium. What would have been a go-ahead grand slam at most parks in America was instead the final out of the inning.
The Saints left two men on in the sixth and seventh and SHSU closed the door with a pair of runs in the seventh and eighth.
Citro became just the fifth player in program history to reach 80 hits in a season with a 2-for-5 effort Sunday. Justin Esquerra had three hits and Swain was robbed of his third hit in the eighth.
"My kids did a great job all year and we're really proud of them," Rossi said. "I know they're going to go onto bigger and better things."
The Saints went 27-16 after starting the year 0-17 and won their first MAAC Championship in 15 years. They'll have to replace senior starters Citro (1B), Mike Allen (2B), John Rooney (RF) and Andres Ortiz (LF), and could lose junior ace Matt Gage to the MLB draft. Gone too is closer Neil Fryer who enjoyed one of the great pitching careers in the history of the program.
"I told the guys in the lockerroom I'm proud of all of them," Citro said. "We just kept going all year, and even when no one believed in us, we believed in ourselves."