By Garrett Martin and Thomas Mejia
The weather directly impacted Texas State’s series against conference opponent Troy Trojans this past weekend. In preparation of rain and lightning delays, the Bobcat’s first two games were scheduled ahead of time as a doubleheader on Friday, April 5. The third game, scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m., was moved back to 6:30 p.m., when first pitch was officially thrown. Almost three full innings were played before lightning started flashing in the San Marcos sky prompting home plate umpire, Shawn Arthur, to delay the game until further notice.
Game one of the doubleheader on Friday started early for the Trojans who came out and scored two runs in the first inning. The Bobcats then dug themselves deeper into the hole after allowing three more runs in the next two innings.
Junior infielder Jaxon Williams was able to cut the lead with a solo home-run in the third inning that became a 5-1 deficit for the Bobcats. After the first three innings, senior Nicholas Fraze was able to find a more comfortable groove against the Trojans. He made it through the next three innings without allowing another run, striking out four more batters in the process.
The Bobcat offense was effective at hitting for extra bases in this game, but they couldn’t find much run production when they occupied the base paths. The seventh inning proved different for Texas State. Senior Travon Benton led off the inning with a double and found himself in scoring position early. He advanced on a sacrifice fly from senior Ryan Newman, with senior Jaylen Hubbard coming up to the plate. He matched Newman’s fate and flew out deep to right center field, which scored Benton from third.
Even though the Troy lead was reduced to 5-2, the Trojans found a way to put the game further away from the ‘Cats with two more runs in the ninth inning.
With the lead 7-2, the Bobcats clung to the last hope they found: another Benton double, his second of the game. Senior Jacob Almendarez was hit by a pitch in the next at-bat, which brought Hubbard to the plate once again. In Hubbard’s at-bat, he lifted a ball deep over the center-fielder’s head that scored Benton from second base and advanced Almendarez to third. Sophomore John Wuthrich drew a walk to load the bases, but Trojan reliever Russ Hixon induced two more outs to end the game.
Fraze was given the loss. He ended the night with 6.0 innings, allowed five runs on eight hits, and struck out six with one walk. The winning pitcher, Cory Gill pitched well against the Bobcats. He went seven innings with five strikeouts and gave up two runs on five hits.
Game two gave fans a lot of drama that didn’t go the ‘Cats way.
In the second game of the double header, the Bobcats scored first on Williams’ RBI single in the first inning. That run was followed by a run scored on a fielder’s choice by the Bobcats in the second inning with the bases loaded. A theme of the game, the Bobcats left the bases loaded in the inning with one of their best hitters, junior outfielder Will Hollis, flying out to center field.
Shortly after gaining the lead, it was taken away from Texas State by Dalton Sinquefield’s two-RBI double.
Tied 2-2 in the fourth inning, Hubbard decided to take his next at-bat yard and create another lead for the Bobcats. In the fifth, Wuthrich would add on to the lead with an RBI single, making the score 4-2.
It was in the sixth and seventh innings that starting pitcher Hunter McMahon began to lose his command over the Trojans. Two runs scored in the sixth, and the middle of the order jumped on McMahon’s pitches and ran him out of the game in the seventh inning for senior Kyle Bradford.
Down 7-4, sophomore infielder Dalton Shuffield breathed life back into Bobcat Ballpark with an RBI triple, cutting the deficit to two. Then, in the ninth inning, it was also Shuffield who singled to lead off and get a rally going once again. Newman moved him over with a productive ground ball out. Then, freshman catcher Peyton Lewis stepped to the plate and shot a single to center to score Shuffield. Unfortunately, it was Hixon again who stepped up for the Trojans and shut down the comeback the Bobcats were trying to mount.
Handed the loss, McMahon finished with 6.1 innings,, six earned runs on six hits, six strikeouts, and three walks. He is now 4-3 on the season. Hixon would earn a save in the second straight game against the Bobcats.
Speaking of flare for the dramatic…it took ten innings, two separate days of play due to the weather delay, but the Bobcats avoided a series sweep at home with a walk-off win over Troy.
The game on Saturday didn’t start too well for the Bobcats. Senior pitcher Connor Reich took the mound for Texas State and had a rough start to the game. In the first inning, Troy took an early 3-0 lead as Reich threw a total of 39 pitches in the first inning alone. After early trouble, Reich was able to settle down and pitch back-to-back shutout innings to quiet Troy’s early offense.
The Texas State offense would have Reich’s back and answer in a big way. In the third inning, designated hitter Hollis hit a 2-run double to give the Bobcats a 4-3 lead with runners on the corners threatening to score. Momentum was completely on Texas State’s side, but then thunder struck– literally. At 7:37 p.m., consistent lightning began to take place in the area and after an hour and ten minutes both teams agreed to postpone play until the following day at 12:30 p.m.
Benton picked up the Bobcats offense where they left off the night before by hitting a 3-run homer to left field to extend Texas State’s lead to 7-3 in the bottom of the third inning.
Troy was able to answer with a 3-run homer of their own in the top of the fifth inning to cut Texas State’s lead to 7-6. In the very next inning, the Trojans had bases loaded with no outs.
The Bobcat’s defense went to work and were able to limit the damage by allowing only one run to score, tying the game at seven a piece.
Tied at seven, this game headed into extra innings which let the drama ensue. In the top half the tenth, the Trojans put runners on first and third with one out after a controversial foul ball call reversed the second out of the inning. The Bobcats needed a big play to keep Troy from scoring and taking the lead. Hubbard delivered that big play when he collected a ground ball and began the double play that ended the top of the tenth inning.
In the bottom of the tenth, the scene was set for sophomore John Wuthrich for the winning run at third with two outs. Consequently, Wuthrich delivered a single on the 0-1 pitch that allowed Benton to score from second, securing the victory in the series finale against the Trojans.
Texas State avoided the sweep and improved their conference record to 7-5. Junior Zachary Leigh earned the victory with his great performance out of the bullpen. He threw 3.0 innings, struck out and walked two on one hit.
Next up for Texas State is a challenging in-state matchup against Texas A&M. Texas A&M is ranked No. nine nationally and will be the highest ranked team that Texas State will face so far this season. The Bobcats will travel to College Station on Tuesday to play in Blue Bell Park at 6:30 p.m. You can catch the action on KTSW 89.9 or on txstatebobcats.com.
Featured image by Garrett Martin.
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