College Baseball: Texas State notches 8-1 victory over Georgia State in series opener
By JOE VOZZELLI
Daily Record Sports
Opponents of Texas State should know this by now: Even if you hold Garrett Mattlage in check, Granger Studdard is just as dangerous.
But if you stop both Mattlage and Studdard, Austen Williams can lock down a lineup. So when all three of those Bobcats were on their game Friday night, Georgia State had to know it was going to be a long night.
Behind Mattlage, Studdard and Williams, Texas State rolled to a 8-1 victory over the visiting Panthers inside Bobcat Ballpark.
“It started on the mound with Austen Williams,” Texas State head coach Ty Harrington said. “He was special tonight. When Garrett hit the homer in the first, it gave our offense a good feeling. They’re (Mattlage and Studdard) our run producers. If they hit, we score runs.”
Mattlage’s two-out, solo shot to left field, which came on an 0-2 count, gave the Bobcats (20-17, 9-7 Sun Belt Conference) a 1-0 lead.
“I was looking for a pitch middle-in the whole time,” Mattlage said of his first-inning at-bat. “Going up there with two outs, I knew I needed to be on second base. He started me with two pitches out. With two strikes, I choked up on the bat. He missed his spot and I drove it.”
Next, it was Studdard’s turn. During the third inning, the freshman left fielder lined a double into the gap in right-center field to plate Mattlage for a 2-0 Texas State lead.
That’s all the run support Williams needed as the Bobcats’ closest thing to an ace blew his fastball past GSU hitters. The junior starter mixed in an occasional breaking ball and change-up as he struck out eight Panthers over eight strong innings and limited them to five hits and one run.
“I just stuck to what I feel comfortable with,” Williams said of his approach against a lineup that had a .304 average entering Friday’s contest. “My fastball felt great tonight. It was warm night so I felt loose. I was able to command it (the fastball) in the early part of the game. It seemed like they had trouble catching up with the outside fastball so we stuck with that most of the game.”
Texas State rewarded Williams’ gem with plenty of offense.
Whenever the Bobcats have been doing damage with the bats, it seems like Mattlage and Studdard have been front-and-center. That continued Friday as they combined to go 5 of 7 with a homer, four RBIs, three doubles and two walks.
Although Mattlage registered the farthest — a loudest — hit of the Friday night’s tilt (a 350-foot deep fly), Studdard reached base in all five of his at-bats.
“I changed my approach a bit after the last game (UTSA),” Studdard said. “I was pulling off pitches. I told myself, ‘Just hit the ball to the opposite field.’ That’s what I did tonight.”
With a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth, Texas State put away the visitors with a three-spot on the scoreboard. Mattlage brought Matt Smith home on a double into the gap. The junior wasn’t on second for long as Cory Geisler notched a RBI single. Studdard kept the hit train going with another double to score the Bobcats’ eighth and final run of the night.
Williams took over from there and struck one in the seventh inning and two more in the eighth.
“You know when Austen goes out there, he’s going to pump the strikes,” Mattlage said. “When we give Austen two or three runs, that’s all he needs. We gave him eight tonight so I’m sure he liked that.”
After Williams reached 118 pitches following the eighth inning, Harrington decided not to send his starter out for the ninth.
“He had done his job” Harrington said of Williams, who improved to 7-1 on the season. “It was somebody else’s job at that point. I would have loved to send him back out there. But that wasn’t the smart thing to do.”
The Bobcats return to the field Saturday for game two of their series versus GSU. Taylor Black will take the mound with first pitch scheduled for 3 p.m.