College Baseball: Bobcats rally, but fall to Bearkats

Texas State finally found its offense.

Too bad the Bobcats' pitchers chose to take the afternoon off.

Behind an eight-run seventh, Texas State stole every bit of momentum from Sam Houston State in the finale of the CenturyLink Bobcat Invitational. It took an inning and a half to give it right back.

Texas State's bullpen couldn't hold off the Bearkats after its offense put the game in its hands. A thrilling comeback went for naught, as Sam Houston State handed the Bobcats a 10-9 defeat with two runs in the ninth.

"That's a tough loss," Texas State head coach Ty Harrington said. "Obviously, to battle that far back and not be able to pull it out in the end is tough.

"It's tough to lose to a rival. It's tough not to go up 2-1 in the tournament and all that kind of stuff; but that's baseball. If you don't take care of it, it's a crazy game."

Down 7-1 with nine outs to go, the Bobcats' dormant offense began to stir.

Through the first two games of the tournament (a 3-2 loss to Missouri State and a 2-0 win over Tulane) and six innings of the third, Texas State left 25 men on base. After senior catcher Andrew Stumph struck out on three pitches with the bases loaded in the seventh for the first out, the Bobcats looked well on their way to add three more.

That's when Texas State used a small spark to create a bigger fire. Senior third baseman Nick Smelser walked on four pitches to bring in the first run of the seventh, then his teammates followed with four hits, of which three went for extra bases.

Sophomore outfielder Brooks Orton and junior outfield Morgan Mickan delivered the biggest hits, as they each tripled in two runs. Mickan crushed an offering from Bearkat closer Michael Burchett deep into right-center field.

"We put good swings on the ball and that's how a rally rolls," Mickan said. "I just got a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it."

Sam Houston State answered with four hits in the next two innings, two off Bobcat junior closer Hunter Lemke. After Lemke ran into trouble in the ninth (one-out single, 2-0 count to the next batter), Harrington chose to go with sophomore Austen Williams, who shut the Green Wave down in order the previous afternoon for his first save.

Williams allowed to consecutive hits — a single and a two-run double — that put Texas State behind once again.

"We let a game get away from us, but they earned that last inning," Harrington said. "It wasn't like we just went out there and said, 'Here.' We ran some good arms out there and they earned the right to have that."

Now the Bobcats must bounce back Tuesday night on the road against Baylor.