San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

March 5th, 2010
Bobcats beg for batting as league season starts

030410martinsonTexas State shortstop Jason Martinson puts the tag on Rice’s Anthony Rendon in the third inning Wednesday night at Bobcat Field. Rice won the game, 5-0. Texas State sports information photo.

STAFF REPORT

The Southland Conference baseball season begins Friday night for the Texas State Bobcats, who will take a 3-4 overall record to this weekend’s series against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at Bobcat Field.

The series opens with a 6:30 p.m. start Friday night, followed by starts of 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.

In just the last two years, since their 2008 team played a slug fest just about every night, the Bobcats appear to have done an about face, at least against the national level competition they’ve played leading to the conference schedule. The Bobcats are batting a mere .221, but opponents are batting only .250 against a Texas State pitching staff that hasn’t exposed serious weak links.

The Bobcats were mostly punchless in a 5-0 loss to Rice that opened their home schedule Wednesday night. In six of nine turns, the Bobcats were done after three hitters, and they only once pushed a runner as far as third base.

“We’re not facing crummy pitching,” said Harrington, whose club already has played the likes of Baylor, Houston and Texas A&M. “We’re facing some pretty good arms.”

Texas State designated hitters Andrew Stumph and Shaun Garcia are batting .385 and .333, respectively, outfielder Tyler Sibley is hitting .321 and catcher Jordan Kopycinski is batting .250. Everyone else on the club is batting .222 or lower.

The Texas State pitching staff, however, holds out hope as the Bobcats pursue their second straight NCAA Tournament bid. Pitchers Covey Morrow, Lee Colon and Carson Smith all have held opposing hitters to averages of .185 or lower, and lead starter Michael Russo holds a 1.50 ERA after two strong starts.

But that isn’t to say the pitching staff doesn’t remain in flux as the Bobcats begin the Southland Conference season. After Smith, a sophomore right hander, played the part of closer two weeks ago in Houston, Harrington gave him his first start of the season Wednesday night.

Smith held the Owls to a run on three hits through five innings, but he couldn’t stretch himself through the sixth, when he succumbed to wildness. After giving up two walks and a single to load the bases with one out, Smith allowed a base-clearing triple to Rice designated hitter Chase McDowell. At that point, Harrington hooked Smith for Covey Morrow, who promptly gave up a sacrifice fly.

The Owls held that 5-0 lead as Texas State combined for six hits against three Rice pitchers. Abe Gonzales pitched 5 1/3 innings, giving up no runs on three hits for the win.

Harrington said Smith could be effective at the start or end of games, but “I see him as a starter.” Brian Borski and Garret Carruth also have taken starts this season, though Harrington said it could be that Carruth would be most helpful out of the bullpen.

The Bobcats also will have to find someone to close out games, if it isn’t going to be Smith. Harrington said left hander Jeff McVaney, who pitched a scoreless ninth Wednesday night against Rice, figures to be in that mix.

Corpus is 5-2, losing 7-2 to Rice and 21-9 to Nebraska. The Islanders have three wins against Prairie View, a win against Houston-Victoria and a win against Elon.

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