Loftin blasts two homers to aid the victory
In a memorable senior day at Bobcat Field, Josh Walter closed out a cat-and-mouse rubber match with three ninth-inning strikeouts to hold off the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners 10-8 to take the regular season finale victory Saturday afternoon.
In what started out as a taut match on the mound ended with a battle of the bull pens. Steven Siers and Kris Ruepke put up four solid innings of pitching before their respective reinforcement were called in. But each reliever that took the mound gave up at least one run, aside from Walter, who notched his fifth save with the victory.
Zach Boles was credited with the win after entering in the sixth and pitching one and two-thirds successful innings and allowing just two hits and one run, shutting down UTSA in his time on the mound.
Three full innings passed by before either club could put a run on the board and Texas State jumped first in the bottom of the fourth with a lead-off walk tossed to Paul Goldschmidt. Lance Loftin belted a single up the middle to follow and the pair shifted into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt laid down by Elliott Babcock. Spenser Dennis had the chance to plate the first run, but hit into a fielder’s choice that snagged Goldschmidt at the plate, but Adam Witek came through with a double to right center that sent Loftin and Dennis to the plate for a 2-0 Bobcat lead.
UTSA bit back in the top of the fifth with the top of its lineup when James Keithley led off with a rope up the middle and Tim Palincsar reached on a walk. Keithley tagged on a fly-out to right to put runners on the corners and Trent Lockwood dropped a single into shallow right field to send the lead-off across the plate. Aaron Taylor relieved Siers and UTSA rapped out two more base hits for two runs before the inning was over to take the 3-2 edge.
But the ‘Cats answered with three of its own in the bottom of the fifth with Thomas Field and Goldschmidt on base respectively from a fielder’s choice and walk. Loftin demolished a 1-2 pitch over the left center wall for a 5-3 chip in favor of the Maroon.
Aaron Powell played catch-up for the Roadrunners and mimicked the feat with his own three-run homer to right center to put to foe up by one, but the ‘Cats retaliated with two runs off four hits in the bottom of the sixth. Adam Witek and Aaron Fuller scored after reaching on base hits. Goldschmidt and the latter notched the RBI.
With Boles taking care of the defense, UTSA was held at six runs, while the offense tacked on two more.
Trailing 9-6, the Roadrunners would not go quietly and rammed two runs on the board thanks to a Ryan Rummel double to right center that plated Powell who was hit by a hit. A second hit to left field scored Rummel to give UTSA its eighth and what proved to be final run.
With a Bobcat lead of just one, Loftin stepped the margin up to two with a solo homer to left center, his fourth of the I-35 rivalry series.
With the top of UTSA’s lineup due in the top of the ninth, Walter went to work and retired the first two on his own. On two outs, Michael Rockett belted a single up the middle but was left on after Walter caught Lockwood looking at the final strike.
Loftin recorded his 12th home run in the 4-for-5 outing, notching 4 RBI and scoring three runs. Witek added a 3-for-4 day-total with a pair of runs and RBI. Laurn Randell added a pair of hits to the ‘Cats tally of 13.
UTSA put up 12 hits and Rummel led the Orange at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two RBI and one run scored.
Mark Ruffin took the loss and shift to 3-2 on the season.
The Bobcats clinched the No. 3 seed with the win and will enter the post-season tournament with a 19-11 record, due to face the No. 6 seed in Huntsville. After clinching the No. 1 spot before the series, UTSA will face the No. 8 seed next week.
Game times and opponents will be posted upon release from the Southland Conference office.
By AMBER ARTERBERRY
Assistant Sports Information Director