Friday night’s Game 2 of the tie-breaking baseball series between Texas State and Southeastern Louisiana certainly didn’t promise an edge in the pitching match-up.
It was going to come down to which team could seize a moment, and Texas State jumped on a good one early. A two-out error by Southeastern Louisiana set up Texas State slugger Paul Goldschmidt for a three-run homer. The Bobcats kept building on that 5-0 lead and cruised to a 9-3 win.
Texas State has won the first two in the three-game series with the third game scheduled for Saturday at Bobcat Field (1 p.m.). Brian Borski (4-2, 3.35 ERA) will work for Texas State. Southeastern Louisiana was undetermined about its starter, but Josh Janaway (3-2, 4.59) made its last Sunday start. This series moved up one day because of Easter.
The Friday win kept the Bobcats on top of the Southland Conference standings at 12-5 (22-10 overall). With two straight losses at Texas State, Southeastern Louisiana (20-12, 10-7) is two games back.
But a bunch of teams are knocking. With two straight wins against McNeese State, Texas-Arlington (18-15, 11-6) is the new second place team, only a game back. Southeastern Louisiana, Lamar (23-12, 10-7) and Sam Houston State (19-13, 10-7) all share third, two games back. With roughly 16 games remaining in a 33-game conference season, even Northwestern State (15-15, 9-7) and Texas-San Antonio (18-16, 9-8) are still in it.
The top of the Southland Conference is no place for spilling games, or failing to pick one up. The Bobcats made this game’s turns work for them on a night when they didn’t enter with an apparent advantage from the pitcher’s mound.
Texas State starter Zach Tritz entered the game with a 4-2 record and a 4.63 ERA in seven appearances, all starts. He totaled one complete game, 44 2/3 innings, 52 hits, 23 earned runs, 12 walks and 42 strikeouts.
Southeastern Louisiana starter Brandon Efferson entered the game with a 4-2 record and a 4.63 ERA in seven appearances, all starts. He totaled one complete game, 44 2/3 innings, 53 hits, 23 earned runs, 10 walks and 33 strikeouts.
It was an even game. Until the bottom of the second inning.
Then, the Bobcats roughed up Efferson and turned a potential squeaker into a route. After Lance Loftin reached on an infield single with one out, Ben Theriot took Efferson out of the yard to right field, giving Texas State a 2-0 lead.
The top of the order came back with two out in the same inning to produce three runs. The Lions made a defensive mistake and Texas State punished them. After Tyler Sibley singled to center, Bret Atwood reached on an error by second baseman Ty Summerlin. Paul Goldschmidt made Southeastern pay for that mistake, hitting Efferson’s first pitch out of the yard for a 5-0 lead.
“Ben (Theriot) got us off to a good start with his home run,” Goldschmidt said. “Tritz set the tone by getting them one-two-three most of the game.”
Tritz had Southeastern eating out of his hand as he spotted his fastball down and in against right-handed hitters. Southeastern didn’t manage a hit until the fourth inning and didn’t score a run until the seventh.
By then, the Bobcats held an 8-0 lead. The Bobcats picked and pecked at Efferson in the fifth, turning two singles and two walks into two runs. Theriot drove in one run on a single. The other scored when Efferson threw a bases-loaded wild pitch. The Bobcats made it 8-0 in the sixth when Kyle Livingstone doubled in Keith Prestridge, who had walked.
Tritz gave up a run in the seventh and two more in the eight, gobbling up innings until Texas State coach Ty Harrington went to Tyler Brundridge to close for the second straight day. Brundridge worked an easy inning to polish off the win.
“I was impressed by Zach Tritz,” Harrington said. “He pitched with a lot of focus tonight.”
Tritz closed the night with a 5-2 record and a 4.44 ERA.
Saturday, it will fall on Borski to close out the series.