By Mark Brown, Connor MacKinnon, and Garrett Martin
Assistant Sports Director and Sports Reporters
This past weekend, the Texas State Bobcats took on the Appalachian State Mountaineers in Boone, North Carolina. Going into the series, the Bobcats had not lost against the Mountaineers since both teams started playing each other in the Sun Belt Conference. Head Coach Ty Harrington and the ‘Cats looked to keep that win-streak and their current four game win-streak alive heading into this series.
The series opener on Friday started off quick with scoring from both teams. Junior infielder Jaxon Williams hit a solo home run in the top of the first, followed by a solo home run from the Mountaineer’s superstar freshman Luke Drumheller in the bottom of the first.
In the next inning, the scoring continued. Senior first-baseman Ryan Newman led off the top of the second inning with a double and would eventually score on a long sacrifice fly from senior catcher Felipe Rodriguez. In the bottom half of the second inning, the Mountaineers would answer back and take the lead on a two-run homer off the bat of red-shirt junior Luke Allison.
From there, pitching and defense began to win battles again and finish off innings without too much trouble. The game went on like that until red-shirt senior Skyler Valentine stepped up to the plate in the fifth and seventh innings and homered in each of his at-bats to take the lead from the Mountaineers and increase the score to 5-3.
More timely hits and good base running put the Bobcats up 8-3 in the ninth inning, which was followed by a stellar performance from senior pitcher Zachary Leigh to seal the deal in the bottom half of the ninth inning.
With the final score 8-3 Bobcats, senior starting pitcher Nicholas Fraze finished with 6.0 innings, 3 ER’s, 3 BB’s three walks and six strikeouts. He earned the victory and improved his record to 4-2, while Valentine went 3-for-5 with 2 HR’s, 3 R’s and 3 RBI’s, a career day for him.
The runs started early at the top of the second as the ‘Cats fired first. Bobcat sophomore John Wuthrich had a day, which started off with a double hit down by the left side of the field that allowed Valentine and junior Will Hollis to score to make it a 2-0 game. The runs did not stop there for the m maroon and gold as freshman pitcher Tyler Tuthill from the Mountaineers allowed a walk with bases loaded to give the Bobcats a 3-0 lead.
At the bottom of the sixth, Appalachian State found some scoring production thanks to two consecutive RBI singles from Mountaineer freshman Dalton Williams and senior infielder Joel McDaniel to cut the deficit to one.
In the seventh inning, Williams responded to the Mountaineers effort by hitting a single out to left-field to help sophomore infielder Dalton Shuffield and Rodriguez to score to make it a 5-2 game. The Mountaineers were happy to oblige the Bobcats later in the inning thanks to sophomore Tyler Leek who hit a triple, while two were already on base to reduce Texas State’s lead, making the score 5-4.
With Texas State clinging to a one-run lead over the Mountaineers heading into the bottom of the eighth, the Bobcat defense needed to come up with a crucial stop. Leigh provided that defense and started an incredible double play to get the maroon and gold into the ninth inning.
Finally, Texas State was able to earn their sixth victory in a row thanks to a sliding catch in foul territory made by Williams. Hollis extended his on-base streak to 21 games. Williams and Wuthrich each had two hits and combined for all five of the Bobcat’s RBI’s. With the final score of 5-4 Bobcats, sophomore starting pitcher Hunter McMahon improved his record to 4-2 on the year after 5.2 innings of work. McMahon had four strikeouts but gave up two runs on eight hits. Leigh had 2.1 innings of work and earned his second save of the season. This win improved the Bobcat’s win-streak to six games, and improved their overall record against Appalachian State to 14-0 all-time.
The series finale proved to be the most difficult one due to the nearly extreme weather conditions. The Bobcats managed to pull off zero runs as they fell short to the Mountaineers 3-0. The Mountaineers took advantage of the cold weather at their home field as their eight-hole hitter hit a solo-shot to take an early lead in the top of the second.
The game remained a 1-0 Mountaineer lead until they propelled two more runs at the top of the fifth inning, leading the ‘Cats 3-0. Texas State continued to struggle as the Mountaineers executed sound defense against them until the end of regulation.
The Bobcats recorded five total hits going 5-32 with two each coming from Williams and Hubbard along with one from junior first-baseman Cole Coffey. Williams recorded one error while the Mountaineers pulled away with zero. With the final score 3-0 Mountaineers, senior starting pitcher Connor Reich finished with 6.0 innings of work, allowed three earned runs and struck out seven in a losing effort. Unfortunately, this marks the first loss against the Appalachian State Mountaineers in Texas State baseball history and snapped the Bobcat’s current win-streak at six.
Check out more Texas State baseball action this coming Tuesday as the Bobcats battle their I-35 rival the UTSA Roadrunners here in San Marcos at 6 p.m. That game will be broadcasted on KTSW 89.9 and online at txstatebobcats.com.
Featured image by Texas State Athletics.
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