College Baseball: Eighth inning dooms Texas State in loss to UTSA
By JOE VOZZELLI
Daily Record Sports
SAN ANTONIO — The eighth inning hasn’t been kind to Texas State this season against UTSA.
After Garrett Mattlage lofted a single into center field to score Matt Smith from second base in the eighth inning, the Bobcats might have thought things had turned in their favor.
The Roadrunners brought home six runs in the later half of the eighth to overcome a one-run deficit and topple Texas State by a score of 7-2 Tuesday night in San Antonio.
The home team loaded the bases in the eighth inning against Hunter Lemke using a single, a walk and a fielder’s choice before R.J. Perucki blooped a two-run single to center field, which gave UTSA a 3-2 lead. Perucki’s single was just out of reach for Mattlage on what would have been an tough over-the-shoulder catch.
The Roadrunners weren’t done as they took advantage of a mistake by the Bobcats.
Lemke caught Horacio Correa between second and third base for what should have been the Bobcats’ second pickoff of the game. The sophomore closer fired a throw over to Trey Hicks, who appeared to take his eye off the ball for a split second. The ball bounced off the heel of Hicks’ glove and Correa came all the way around to score another UTSA run.
“(Logan) Kinder hit the change up to start the (eighth) inning off,” Texas State head coach Ty Harrington said after his team fell to 19-17 overall. “It was probably over the middle of the plate and that was the first mistake we made. We weren’t able to pull off some things defensively. It’s just frustrating. We talked about it before the game. We’re not making the plays that need to be made to win games.”
Things snowballed for the Bobcats when Jesse Baker launched a two-run homer that barely cleared both the wall and the glove of left fielder Granger Studdard, who made a last-ditch effort to steal a home run away from UTSA’s center fielder.
Baker’s homer gave the Roadrunners a 7-2 lead and capped a season series where Texas State’s rival outscored Harrington’s team 10-1 in the eighth frame. Lemke picked up the loss after surrendering six runs (two earned) on four hits and a walk.
“We planned on using him in the eighth,” Harrington said of the decision to have his closer pitch in a non-save situation. “He didn’t throw last weekend. It didn’t turn out like we wanted it to.”
With the Bobcats down 7-2, there wouldn’t be any ninth-inning magic. Unlike its April 1 matchup with UTSA, where Harrington’s team stormed back from three runs down to win 7-6 on a walk-off single by Studdard, Texas State went down quietly during its last at-bats.
The Bobcats’ best chance came in the eighth inning when Studdard walked up to the plate with no outs and Mattlage on first with Colby Targun on second. The freshman failed to bunt them over. After digging himself into an 0-2 hole, Studdard grounded in a double play. With two outs, Cory Geisler struck out looking on a 12 to 6 curveball from Jeremy Filipek.
“We didn’t get the execution we needed on the bunt,” Harrington said. “He (Studdard) came back and made a good swing on the ball but they turned a double play. The reality was if we get the bunt down maybe something happens for us.”
Harrington did not make players available for interviews after Tuesday night’s loss.