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

March 6th, 2010
Bobcats battle to win league opener

030610carrithaRight hander Garret Carruth retired all four batters he faced to earn the win in relief Friday night as Texas State downed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 5-3, Friday night at Bobcat Field. Texas State sports information photo.

STAFF REPORT

The Texas State baseball team didn’t swing the bats especially well in their four-run eighth inning Friday night against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, but the Bobcats made up for it with base running hustle and good plate judgment to capture a 5-3 win in their first game of the Southland Conference schedule.

Auditioning for closer, right hander Garret Carruth retired all four batters he faced to claim the win that makes him 1-0.

The win improved the Bobcats to 4-4 overall and 1-1 in the Southland as they seek their second straight NCAA Tournament bid. Entering the night batting .221, the Bobcats whacked out nine hits to bat a splashy .310 in this one game. Corpus fell to 5-3 and 0-1.

The two teams will play again at Bobcat Field Saturday (4 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.).

“We’re a work in progress,” Texas State baseball coach Ty Harrington said. “We’re new and young.”

Trailing, 3-1, entering the bottom of the eighth at Bobcat Field, the Bobcats strung together four singles (at least one of them dubious) with a walk and a balk to take the lead. The inning had quickly begun to look like it was going nowhere after starting with Shaun Garcia’s single up the middle.

First, Laurn Randell couldn’t get a bunt down and was called out for running into the ball, then Bret Atwood grounded out on an athletic, diving play by first baseman Jake Olier, who had just entered as a defensive replacement for hitting star Trey Hernandez. But the Corpus pitchers started helping the Bobcats, and the home team was happy to make it count.

Reliever Phillip Garcia reached his only three-ball count out of eight hitters he faced before walking Texas State’s Tyler Sibley. After Garcia balked, putting Shaun Garcia on third and Sibley on second, Kyle Livingstone sneaked a ground ball between short and third, sending the two runners home and tying the game, 3-3.

Corpus brought in left hander Chris Pena to face left-handed hitting Kyle Kubitza with hopes of getting the third out to preserve the tie. Pena entered the game with four strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings, his pitches hissed and darted on their way to the mitt, and he appeared to have Kubitza eating out of his hand when the batter swung and missed at a breaking ball to make the count 0-2. But Kubitza fought Pena hard, fouled off four tough pitches and worked the count to 3-2 before topping a roller between pitcher and first base.

Pena picked up the ball and tagged Kubitza on the way to first base, but then dropped the ball, which rolled towards right field (it was scored as a hit). As Kubitza crossed first base, Livingstone crossed home to give the Bobcats a 4-3 lead. The next batter, Jason Martinson, singled up the middle against reliever Andrew Toppert for a Texas State insurance run.

“I thought Kyle did a good job of battling,” Harrington said.

Texas State ace Michael Russo allowed two runs in the first, but held firm and didn’t allow another run until Chris Vergne doubled on a 1-2 pitch with two out in the eighth. Trailing 3-1 at that point, Harrington brought in Carruth, who struck out Hernandez to end the inning.

Harrington said he’s pleased with the progress being shown by Russo, who pitched commendably against Houston and Baylor before Friday night’s performance. And Carruth, last year’s Tuesday starter, emphatically closed out the game.

“Maybe this is the beginning of a good role for him,” Harrington said.

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