Texas State players could only watch Saturday as the Bobcats sent the minimum of 12 batters to the plate in the last four innings of the Southland Conference Tournament championship game, while Lamar bashed out a total of 22 hits. Texas State lost the game, 17-7. Texas State sports information photo.
Texas State’s baseball team battled back to the championship round in the Southland Conference Tournament during the weekend, needing four straight wins to get there.
However, the long climb necessitated by their opening round loss to Nicholls State Wednesday finally got the better of the Bobcats’ pitching staff, which broke down Saturday under the strain of four games in two days.
The Bobcats entered the final day of the tournament on Saturday needing two wins for the tournament title after notching two wins the previous day. But Bobcat hurlers proceeded to allow 32 hits and 27 runs in those two Saturday games. Not even a thriving Texas State offense, which notched 31 hits in two Saturday games, could keep the team above water in the championship game.
By the end, the Bobcats all but couldn’t get anyone one. Thus, Lamar trounced them, 17-7, in the championship game at Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi. The Cardinals bashed out 22 hits, while Texas State fielders made four errors and Texas State pitchers allowed eight walks.
The Bobcats advanced to the title game with a 20-hit effort in their 15-10 win against Texas-Arlington (UTA) earlier in the day. The Bobcats scored six times in the top of the first against UTA and never trailed. Kyle Kubitza, Jason Martinson, Andrew Stumph and Clint Vest all ended with three hits against UTA. Jeff McVaney drove in five runs and Kubitza knocked in four.
The Bobcats continued their hot hitting in to the championship game, taking a 4-1 lead with four runs in the top of the second inning against Lamar. Tyler Sibley hit a two-run double, while Vest and Bret Atwood each had RBI singles.
However, Livingstone made a fielding error at first base, allowing lead-off hitter B.J Bunner to reach second base, and the Bobcats couldn’t pick him up. Ted Zentek singled to shortstop, then Aaron Buchanan singled sharply to left, knocking in Bunner. Andy Mena flied out to right, moving Zentek to third, then Quentin Luquette sacrifice flied to center, driving in Zentek. At that point, the Bobcats were one out away from escaping the mess with a 4-3 lead.
But that was before Wade Mathis tripled to right-center field, driving in Buchanan from first to tie the game. Then, Aaron Moore tagged McVaney for a two-run homer to left, giving the Cardinals a 6-4 lead. Moore ended the weekend as the tournament MVP, batting .625 (10-for-16) with three homers and 10 RBI.
Lamar tacked on two more in the fourth, combining two hits, two walks, a wild pitch and a fielding error. The Bobcats crept back to within 8-7 with three runs in the fifth. McVaney hit an RBI single, Stumph hit an RBI double and another run scored on a wild pitch.
But Lamar retaliated with five runs in the bottom of the fifth, tying together six hits and leaving the bases loaded. Down 13-7, the Bobcats reacted with only one hit in the next four innings, erasing that runner with a double play and sending the minimum of 12 hitters to the plate.
The Bobcats ended their season 38-22, while Lamar improved to 35-24 and notched their third Southland Conference title for a 13th NCAA Tournament appearance.
“Even though the score may not reflect it, we played with tremendous heart and effort,” Texas State coach Ty Harrington said. “Our guys pulled together for each other and I’m very proud of them.”
Texas State put five players on the all-tournament team including Vest at second base, Kubitza at third, Martinson at shortstop, Sibley in the outfield and McVaney at designated hitter.