Before the Texas State campus breaks into summer mode, there’s one more athletic event. And it could be the start of something big for the Bobcats baseball team.
The Bobcats play their final regular season games this weekend against Texas-San Antonio, with seeding for the Southland Conference Tournament on the line. As the Southland Tournament winner goes to the NCAA Tournament, this weekend’s series is not a small matter.
Three weeks ago, this weekend’s series shaped up as a showdown for the Southland Conference regular season championship. Then, the Bobcats lost nine of ten games, including five of six within the league.
As Texas State swooned, UTSA streaked, winning eight of ten overall and four of six within the league during that same time frame, thus extending its league lead over Texas State by three games.
Though the Bobcats righted themselves last weekend with a three-game sweep at McNeese State, UTSA also swept against Nicholls State. UTSA thereby clinched the regular season title, now leading by four games with three left to play.
But the three games this weekend could set a whole new tone entering the Southland Conference Tournament next weekend at Sam Houston State.
If the Bobcats can sweep the three-game series, they not only could clinch a crucial second seed in the tournament, but they also would finish within a game of the Road Runners and open a very interesting question as to which team really is the best in the league. Even if the Bobcats win two of three, they’d still accomplish a lot of that.
The second seed matters because of how the SLC has played out this year. Two teams likely to make the tournament, Texas-Arlington and Southeastern Louisiana, enter this weekend with losing records. UTSA will open against the team with the worst record, and the second seed will open against the team with the second worst record.
The third-place team will try to fight through a very even grouping of teams just to make the second round. Right now, Texas State and Lamar both are 17-10 in the league, but Lamar has the second-place tiebreaker by beating the Bobcats two of three late last month. That means Texas State now is third.
Following Texas State, in order, are Northwestern State (16-10), Sam Houston (16-11) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (15-11-1). Obviously, the path for Texas State is much easier if it opens against Texas-Arlington instead of Northwestern, Sam Houston or A&M-Corpus.
So, the second seed matters in this tournament and the Bobcats have their work cut out as they play UTSA tonight in San Antonio (6 p.m.), then Friday (6 p.m.) and Saturday (2 p.m.) at Bobcat Field. Meanwhile, Lamar plays three at home this weekend against McNeese State (7-20).
Regardless of how this weekend’s games turn out for the Bobcats, they will get the last look of the regular season at UTSA, which has won 22 of its last 26 games and dominated the SLC with a 21-6 record. The Bobcats will go to the tournament knowing the little details about the conference champion.
Perhaps, also, the Bobcats have returned somewhat to form. If last weekend’s three-game sweep at McNeese isn’t a high achievement – and it isn’t – then it at least took Texas State out of its skid. The Bobcats came back Tuesday night with a 7-2 loss at Baylor, which was enormously less aggravating than their 25-13 loss at Baylor on April 23.
Expect an offensive show this weekend between UTSA and Texas State. UTSA is second in SLC team batting with a .318 average, while Texas State is third at .316. But Texas State leads the league in homers (59), while UTSA is tied for second with Sam Houston (56). Texas State and UTSA both are also among the top three SLC teams in slugging percentage, on-base percentage, runs, hits, RBI, triples and, come to think of it, grounding into double plays.
Texas State’s Paul Goldschmidt leads the SLC in slugging percentage (.712), home runs (17) and total bases (146). UTSA’s Trent Lockwood leads the league with 70 RBI, UTSA’s Michael Rockett leads the SLC with 25 doubles, and Texas State’s Thomas Field leads the league with seven triples.
UTSA will go to the series with a considerable pitching advantage, second in the SLC with a staff ERA of 4.80. Texas State is a run worse at seventh in the league with a 5.80 ERA.Email | Print