Opening a Southland Conference series against Southeastern Louisiana with first place on the line, the Texas State Bobcats exhibited their top form in hitting and pitching, cruising to a 9-2 win Thursday night at Bobcat Field.
Texas State starter Kane Holbrooks went 8 2/3 innings and twice came within one strike of finishing the job. Holbrooks gave up eight hits and while walking two, but he allowed no extra-base hits and spread them well enough to make it easy for a potent Texas State offense.
The Bobcats raked Southeastern Louisiana pitcher Ryan Boudreaux, who entered the game ranked sixth in league ERA at 3.26. By the fifth inning, the Bobcats were hitting him hard.
Paul Goldschmidt, Texas State’s all-time leading slugger, homered to right center, smashing a first-pitch fastball with a runner on and starting a trip through the order that produced five runs. Goldschmidt said he figured first-pitch fastball might be coming.
“He threw it twice before,” Goldschmidt said. “I was just trying to get a fastball early.”
Goldschmidt broke a 2-2 tie with no one out in the fifth, giving the Bobcats a 4-2 lead. The two RBI also put Goldschmidt at 141 halfway through his junior season, making him the school record holder. Goldschmidt became the school’s career home run leader last week and put that total up to 28 with his blast Thursday night.
Spenser Dennis followed Goldschmidt with a hard double, took third on fly ball to right and scored on a single by Kyle Livingstone, making it 5-2. Dennis enjoyed a four-for-five evening with two RBI, raising his average this season to .506 (39 for 77).
Bret Atwood was three-for-five with three runs for Texas State Thursday, while Jason Martinson was two-for-four. The Bobcats went off for 16 hits, including five doubles and Goldschmidt’s homer.
“I thought it was one of our better offensive performances,” said Texas State coach Ty Harrington, offering high praise for a team that entered the night averaging 8.6 runs and 11.8 hits per game.
But the higher praise went to Holbrooks, who did a solid job and pitched his best when Southeastern had him on the ropes. Holbrooks was going seven innings per start before Thursday, when the seventh inning challenged him to do it again, even though the game seemed well in hand.
It seemed well in hand because the Bobcats held a 7-2 lead going to the top of the seventh, when Holbrooks walked eight-hole hitter Joe Sparacino and gave up a single to nine-hole hitter Justin Boudreaux, putting runners on first and second with no one out and the top of the order coming up.
Given the unstable state of Texas State’s relief pitching, the game might have been on the verge of unraveling. But Holbrooks ate through the best hitters in the order, striking out Chad Hargis, inducing a ground out from Ty Summerlin and making Brandon Street fly out to end the threat.
Holbrooks needed only seven pitches to retire Southeastern in order in the eighth, then the ninth began just as smoothly, with Jordan D’Arsensbourg striking out in three pitches and Sparacino grounding out on his first pitch.
But Southeastern suddenly stopped making outs. Justin Boudreaux singled on a 2-2 pitch, then Holbrooks hit Hargis with a pitch. Next, Summerlin singled through the right side to drive in Boudreaux on a 1-2 pitch.
Harrington gave Holbrooks three chances to put the game away, and wasn’t about to let go another, especially with Street, a dangerous left-handed hitter, due at bat. Street ranks fifth in the league with 35 RBI. So, Harrington called on Tyler Brundridge to finish the game.
“(Holbrooks) was doing all he could do,” Harrington said. “… Tyler had to go in. I didn’t want to take any chances.”
Holbrooks improved his record to 7-0 with a 1.96 ERA in eight starts. In league games, Holbrooks is 5-0 with a 2.02 ERA. Last year, he finished 2-5 with a 7.45 ERA.
The win brought Texas State up to 21-10 overall and, more important, 11-5 in the Southland Conference. Southeastern Louisiana (19-11, 10-6) fell a game back, but that only means first place remains on the line as the series continues Friday (6:30 p.m.) and Saturday (1 p.m.).Email | Print