By DeShaun Hartley
The Texas State Bobcats came into this game on a three-game winning streak dating back to their recent series win against Georgia Southern, and their high-scoring Tuesday matchup versus Houston Baptist.
Head coach Ty Harrington described the game as a, “wild, crazy baseball game on a Thursday night.”
Just a game removed from scoring 21 runs, the Cats’ wanted to keep the strong batting performance up in front of their home crowd. Four players in the maroon and gold racked up a multi-hit game. Dalton Shuffield, Travon Benton, Jaxon Williams and Jaylen Hubbard all applied pressure on the Red Wolves from the beginning but the thriller didn’t end there.
The Red Wolves started the attack in the eighth inning scoring half of the teams runs during this stint. The comeback was valiant but the defense held up allowing Texas State to capture its 25th win of the season, 16-14.
It took a little bit of time for the baseball team representing San Marcos to get started. At the bottom of the third-inning multiple batters weren’t able to make contact with the ball due to back to back walks. Recently,John Wuthrich has been on a RBI tear, he recorded his season high with four of them, allowing his team to gain a huge lead going into the top of the eighth. This is when things started to get interesting.
Arkansas State senior Justin Felix started the rally with a three-run homer, giving the Red Wolves some hope. It wasn’t necessarily the batting for the road team that got them back in the game, but it was the struggling bullpen of the Bobcats. They walked six batters as you could see the lead starting to slip away.
Both teams wanted to set the tone for the rest of the series, so it was imperative that one start to seperate themselves during the final stretch of this game. The bottom of the eighth inning gave us Williams’ RBI single that brought in two of his teammates. The hit that would send the Red Wolves back to the forest to replan a strategy for tomorrow’s game.
After a crazy game one, the maroon and gold took the field with more of a defensive mindset. That mindset could only be started on the mound as senior pitcher Nicholas Fraze gave the Red Wolves all they could handle during his 7.2 innings of work. Fraze only allowed three hits and struck-out three, as the Bobcats would pick up the win five to three. This win extended their win streak to five, their second longest of the season.
You could tell the pitching duel would play a huge role in who would come out with the win, but the Bobcats made sure to remind us of the offensive standard they have lived by over the last few games.
Arkansas State gained a three run lead at the top of the fourth on Home-runs by Sky-Lar Culver and Alex Howard. The Bobcats took an inning to regain their confidence but in the bottom of the sixth multiple runners were able to find a base.
The runs began with a Will Hollis single up the middle advancing Williams to second. Shortly after, Benton stepped up to the plate and ripped a double bringing in the first two runs of the night.
At this point the Bobcats still had some work to do trailing by two runs heading into the bottom of the seventh. Shuffields’ double grabbed his team’s spirit by the hands and lifted them to new heights. Skyler Valentine took advantage of the opportunity and brought in his teammate in order to tie the game. Before the crowd had an chance to look up, Valentine was already on his way home to give his team their first lead of the night.
This Texas State Baseball team continues to make history this year. First, they swept Rice for the first time in more than two decades, they beat a ranked Texas A&M team on the road and now they get their first series win against the Red Wolves since joining the Sun-Belt. Coach Harrington remained humble when asked what this meant for him and his team.
“It’s another Sun-Belt Conference win, that’s what it is,” said Harrington.
Coming off of the historic first series win versus Arkansas State, the Cats’ came into the game with a sweep in mind. Even though they had won the series, their opponents still made sure to give the Bobcats a run for their money. It looked out of hand for the home team as they fell down six to four at the top of the tenth inning.
Fans started to head for the gates but the ones who stayed were able to conquer the demoralizing hit from Tyler Duncan that gave Arkansas State the lead. When all hope was lost and fans looked upset, Ryan Newman stepped up and blasted a walk-off three run RBI that gave the Bobcats a 7-6 win and their sixth in a row.
Unlike game two, both teams were able to get on board with runs early, but it was the Bobcats who struck first. It seemed like a game of mirrors because in game two Benton continued his strong weekend. His hit drove in the first two runs of the night for the second game in a row.
Remember in game two the Bobcats had to retaliate from being down early, well this time the Red Wolves came out in the top of the second with a desire to get back in it. Tyler Duncan slammed a two-run homerun knotting the score at two a piece.
The senior pitcher from Hallsville, Connor Reich had a dominant outing to keep the score close. He pitched seven innings and at one point in the game recorded 11 straight outs. This is not even the most impressive stat for him. The senior also had a game-high ten strikeouts while in the midst of a tight game the whole way through. Even when allowing two homeruns, Reich still maintained his composure, striking out 70 percent of the next ten batters.
Chase Evans played an important role in today’s game batting 2-4 and crossing the plate once for his team. You can’t forget Benton who had one of his best series this year. He rallied up nine RBI’s this weekend, while also hitting .400 for the weekend.
“It doesn’t really feel real,” Newman said about his walk-off shot. “You get to home plate and your teammates are right there it’s really one of the best feelings in the world.”
The Bobcats will look to continue their winning streak at home this Tuesday as they take on non-conference foe the Texas Longhorns. You can listen to all the action on KTSW 89.9 or follow the KTSW Sports twitter page for updates.
Featured image by DeShaun Hartley.