Bobcats drop season opener to Purdue

Photo by Gerald Castillo

College Baseball

Travon Benton’s fourth inning solo home run didn't give Texas State the lead Friday night.

It wasn't enough to prevent his team’s 9-3 loss to Purdue during their season opener inside Bobcat Ballpark and it didn't necessarily get his team's offense going either, but it was the best feeling of his life and had a deeper significance to him than what the 8-1 score read at the time.

Benton’s aunt, Christy Martinez, died in November of last year and when Tanner Andrews’ 2-1 fastball came up just right at the plate, the junior knew it was out the moment it left his bat.

“That home run just felt great. That’s God right there and I can’t thank him enough,” Benton said. “That’s just the best feeling I’ve ever had and it was all for her.

“Round and round the bases, I could just feel her and it was the best feeling I ever had on the baseball field.”

Benton’s homer was Texas State’s only hit through eight innings before the Bobcats put two more runs up in the bottom of the eighth. Benton added a second hit in the eighth inning on a line drive single to right field.

Andrews pitched seven innings and recorded nine strikeouts. Benton called the Bobcats’ hitting struggles a symptom of first-game jitters. Head coach Ty Harrington wasn’t expecting Andrews to fluster his team so easily.

“We haven’t chased balls like that and so I felt like (Andrews) did a really good job of speeding us up a little bit and getting us out of our plan,” Harrington said. “I’ll have to go back and look how many balls we chased out of the strike zone. It was quite a bit tonight.”

Texas State found themselves in an early hole to start the game.

Sophomore Connor Reich got the starting nod and was welcomed to Division I baseball with two hits and three runs in the opening frame. Albeit errors from his infield didn’t help Reich either. Mickey Scott, starting at third base in place of Jaylen Hubbard, made an impressive glove snag for a put out during the top of the second inning, but balance that with an error in the fourth that eventually scored Purdue’s second run of the fourth inning. Catcher Dylan Paul couldn’t handle a ball for a tag at the plate and Jonathan Ortega starting a shortstop made an error on a throw over to first.

Reich was relieved after three 2/3s innings by true freshman Zachary Leigh who picked off short stop Harry Shipley to close the fourth inning.

“(Reich) was elevated most of the time he was out there … any of them are going to have to get the ball down in the strike zone,” Harrintgon said. “We didn’t do a very good job of … well we made some bad defensive plays.”

True freshman Broc Bosse later took over in the middle of the eighth and pitched the rest of the night surrendering one hit and one run.

“I thought (the freshmen) went out there and did what we wanted them and needed them to do in those moments,” Harrington said. “Now, it’s a growing moment for them and a moment to get exposed to the elements of playing in a college baseball game and I thought that was good for them and I thought they competed really well.”

Texas State returns Saturday for a doubleheader against Purdue starting at 1 p.m. and its four-game series concludes Sunday at noon.

San Marcos Daily Record

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