College Baseball: Texas State hands Troy a 5-2 loss on Saturday
Texas State took Troy’s strength and turned it into one of its own Saturday afternoon inside Bobcat Ballpark.
Even though the Trojans have a lineup loaded with right-handed pull hitters that like to put the ball on the ground, the Bobcats went right at them — just like they did the previous night. For the second game in a row, Texas State’s defense stood tall and late runs propelled the host to a pair of wins over Troy.
Last Friday the Bobcats trailed 3-2 entering the bottom of the seventh inning. Until Texas State scored four runs in that frame, it seemed as if Austen Williams was destined for a hard-luck loss. Instead, Williams earned his seventh win of the season and the Bobcats took the series opener 7-3.
Texas State then sent Taylor Black to the mound Saturday. While Black didn’t punch out as many batters as Williams did the previous night (four in seven innings compared to seven in seven-plus), the sinker-balling right-hander kept the Bobcats on their toes by inducing 13 ground-ball outs.
“You know going into it your defense has to be really good,” Texas State head coach Ty Harrington said after watching his team play error-free in consecutive games for the first time this season. “We gained some confidence from last night and I was pleased with how we handled the baseball today. These guys have really been working hard on that aspect of the game and I’m glad it’s paid off. We need that.”
With the Trojans putting more balls on the ground than in the air, it put onus on the shoulders of Trey Hicks and Garrett Mattlage. It’s safe to say Hicks and Mattlage were up to the task, as they cleanly fielded five balls each and made strong throws to Austin O’Neal for outs.
“You only need half as many hits and about half as many runs when you play clean defense, because they’re not scoring any,” Mattlage said. “We you pitch the way we did and play the way we did, you don’t have to score many runs.”
While three runs were enough to win Saturday’s game since Troy only scored two against Black and senior closer Hunter Lemke, the Bobcats added two more in the eighth inning for good measure.
After Ben McElroy sacrificed Cory Geisler to second, Mattlage came through with an RBI single to right field. Mattlage advanced to second on the Trojans’ second error of the inning and crossed home plate following Granger Studdard’s second hit of the afternoon.
“For us to pick up some runs was huge,” Harrington said. “We had a couple of guys who had big base hits. The last two games we haven’t had tons of hits, but our execution offensively has been good.”
Lemke ran into a bit of trouble in the ninth when he allowed two men to reach base, but struck out Clay Holcomb to end the game. It was a big moment for Lemke, who broke the program's single-season save record previously held by Jeff McVaney. Lemke now has 10 saves this season.
“I was telling them, ‘I guess I have to text him (McVaney) after this,’” Lemke said. “I can’t believe this happened already. This is very humbling.”
Texas State returns to the field Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. A win would give the Bobcats their third sweep in conference play.