By Garrett Martin
The Texas State Tournament opened the baseball season for the Bobcats this past weekend. It was one to be remembered by Bobcat fans. The sun was shining all weekend and everybody was excited to come out to see some of the games. The Bobcats gave them a show in every element of their game. They competed well, played well fundamentally, and took away two wins in three games against three division one, non-conference opponents.
Opening night was everything that Texas State and even San Marcos hoped it would be: big and eventful. At Bobcat Ballpark, the attendance was well over 2,000 and the crowd was amped up. There were a lot of big moments that led to the 8-3 win over the Utah Utes. Scoring started early with a second-effort play made by sophomore, Dalton Shuffield, at home plate in the first inning.
Followed by more keen base-running by sophomore, John Wuthrich, who reached home plate after a throwing error. Things looked interesting as the third-year starter for the Bobcats, Nicholas Fraze, got himself into some trouble in the second inning. He allowed two runners aboard and they were able to score due to a throwing error from starting catcher, Felipe Rodriguez. However, in the fourth inning senior, Ryan Newman, smashed a ball to deep right field for the first home run of the season for himself and the Bobcats. At the time, the homer tied the game and really turned the momentum of the game back over to the Bobcats.
Fraze recouped after a poor inning in the second and threw four more solid innings to get to the seventh inning. He finished with 6.1 innings pitched and two strikeouts. By that time, the Bobcats had loaded more runs on the board and continued their dominance under the lights thanks to a solid relief appearance from senior, Brandon Lewis.
The next day, Texas State took on the Nevada Wolf Pack. The air wouldn’t quite be behind the Bobcat’s sails on this day, as they fell to the Wolf Pack, 4-0. The offense couldn’t seem to get it together against Nevada’s right-hander, Owen Sharts. He threw seven shutout innings and only allowed three hits to Bobcat hitters.
In the same game, Harrington threw out red-shirt sophomore, Hunter McMahon, to start his first game in a Bobcat uniform. McMahon is a highly touted junior college transfer out of Coffeeville, Kansas, who is two years removed from Tommy John surgery. There’s been a lot of buzz about him before the season started, so fans were able to see what he was all about. He threw five innings and had four strikeouts while giving up a few hits to Nevada’s star of the game, Joshua Zamora. Zamora went three for five in his at-bats and drove in three runs en route to their victory.
Unfortunately, McMahon didn’t have the defense around him that Fraze had in game one. In the third inning, two throwing errors were the reason that Nevada was able to put runs on the board. This meant that McMahon wouldn’t be charged those runs to his average and that the Bobcats would lose some momentum in the game. They just weren’t able to grab it back from the Wolf Pack before the final out.
In the final day of the tournament, Texas State took on the #24 ranked team in the nation Missouri State Bears. The Bears hadn’t played very well against Nevada the first day, but had rallied and beat Utah on day two, 6-2. Luckily, Bobcat fans left the final game of the weekend in a good mood as Texas State steamrolled Missouri State, 10-0. Everything clicked on all cylinders in this game.
Coach Harrington and his staff relied on senior pitcher, Connor Reich, to start against the Bears, and he took command of the opposing lineup. Reich would finish with 6.2 innings pitched and seven strikeouts. He pitched perfectly through the first five innings, while his offense gave him the run support that every pitcher desires at the beginning of the game. Both juniors, Chase Evans and Jaxon Williams, would have multi-hit games and contribute heavily to the offensive onslaught, while Williams, Wuthrich and Skyler Valentine would each score twice.
The weekend taught us a lot of things. We know that the Bobcats can win or lose in a variety of ways. In particular though, we learned we can really rely on pitching. Bobcat pitchers only allowed four earned runs and seven runs in total. If the ‘Cats can tighten up their defense, they will be one of the most well-rounded teams in the Sun Belt Conference. This is just the start for Coach Harrington’s highly talented team that him and his staff have assembled together.
Come out and support Bobcat baseball this Tuesday, Feb. 19 as they take on the Baylor Bears at Bobcat Ballpark at 6 p.m., or you can listen to the game broadcasted on KTSW 89.9.
Featured image by Garrett Martin.