College Baseball: Texas State evens series, notches 6-2 victory over UALR
By JOE VOZZELLI
Daily Record Sports
Ending Sam Thoele’s day early was the fastest thing Texas State did Saturday afternoon inside Bobcat Ballpark.
Thoele couldn’t throw strikes as UALR’s right hander walked five, including two with the bases loaded. The Bobcats eventually chased Thoele, who failed to get through the second inning, and Ty Harrington’s team emerged with a 6-2 victory over the Trojans.
“We made him throw pitches in the strike zone and he struggled with that,” Harrington said after his team improved to 28-22 overall and 16-10 in the Sun Belt Conference. “Our guys were focused today. They were ready when they got to the ballpark.”
Less than 24 hours after Travis McDonald frustrated Texas State, Harrington’s team relied on a patient approach against Thoele to score its first runs of the series. With the bases loaded and two outs, Colby Targun and Tyler Pearson watched a few close pitches go by as both produced RBI walks to hand the Bobcats a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
The second inning started off without incident for Thoele, who retired the first two batters. Before long, though, Texas State was back in business.
Following Thoele’s fifth walk, which tied a season high for the redshirt sophomore, UALR head coach Scott Norwood decided enough was enough and pulled Thoele after 1 2/3 innings.
“Once we realized he (Thoele) was off, it became ‘Hey, make him throw strikes and work the count,’” said Ben McElroy, who went 2 for 3 with a RBI double, a walk and two runs scored during Saturday’s tilt. “We forced him to throw strikes and he couldn’t.”
Even after the Trojans turned to reliever Cory Malcom, the Bobcats still waited for the right pitch. With runners on second and third and two outs, Granger Studdard lined a 2-0 fastball down the left-field line for a two-RBI double. Texas State plated another two-out run — its third of the second inning — on an Austin O’Neal single, which made the score 5-0.
“When you start getting hits with two outs, the momentum really gets on your side,” Harrington said. “Those hits hurt the other side because they always feel like they’re one pitch away from getting out of it.”
The Bobcats’ five runs were all the support Taylor Black needed as the redshirt junior pitcher mixed his sinker and slider to keep hitters guessing. Black struck out eight batters.
“I was able to keep them off balance,” Black said after picking up his sixth win of the season Saturday afternoon. “I got a lot of first-pitch strikes in there and kept my breaking ball down. I had them swinging over it.”
With that said, Black’s defense was busy as UALR grounded out 10 times. The redshirt junior scattered seven hits and four walks during his seven innings on the mound. The Trojans scored their only two runs of the game in the fourth inning as the visitors strung together back-to-back singles followed by an RBI double to cut their deficit to 5-2.
While UALR didn’t score the rest of the way, it had the Bobcats — and Black — in trouble in the eighth inning. After Black loaded the bases, Harrington turned to Dylan Bein, who squashed any chance at a Trojan comeback.
Bein came in with no outs.
With a 3-0 count, the freshman reliever benefit from an impatient Bryson Thionnet, who flew out. Then, Justin Steelmon grounded into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
“I wasn’t nervous,” Black said. “Dylan has come in for me in those situations before. I have a lot of confidence in him.”
Texas State will play the rubber game of the series 1 p.m. Sunday inside Bobcat Ballpark.