Newman's walk-off homer lifts Bobcats over Coastal Carolina
Everyone was fired up to play Coastal Carolina (11-8, 0-1 in the Sun Belt), even Ryan Newman.
The normally mild-mannered sophomore first baseman belted a walk-off solo home run in 14 innings Friday night to lift Texas State (11-7, 1-0 in the Sun Belt) over the defending national champions, 5-4, inside Bobcat Ballpark.
Head coach Ty Harrington describes the Brenham native as reserved, but even Newman couldn’t r but let out a yell as he rounded third base and sealed his team’s first conference win after a nearly five-hour game.
“It felt really good, that was my first walk-off home run and there’s not a feeling like it,” Newman said.
“You get the defending champs in here and you want to play your best and compete the hardest. Our team just showed no quit and it took 14 innings, but we still got the win.”
Newman’s at-bat in the bottom of the 14th was after Texas State came up empty in two separate bases loaded situations. Junior centerfielder Derek Scheible, whose solo-run homer in the bottom of the eighth brought the Bobcats within a run, struck out swinging with the bases loaded and two outs in the 11th. Two frames later, Scheible was walked to load the bases for sophomore Jonathan Ortega who got caught looking at a 1-2 pitch to end the 13th.
“It’s challenging when you have the cusp of a victory right at the end of your fingertips and it doesn’t work out for you,” Harrington said. "We had the bases loaded twice, we had opportunities to do things that didn’t work out for us. It’s hard to drag up and muster up the confidence to go back out there on the field and do good.”
Newman’s walk-off won the night, but junior shortstop Luke Sherley made a crucial heads-up play in the top of the 13th.
Coastal Carolina’s Dalton Ewing was on third with one out when Billy Cooke grounded to the shortstop. Cooke reached base on a fielder’s choice as Sherley hunted Ewing on the base-path and held him in no-man’s land before catcher Jared Huber tagged him at the plate to preserve the tie.
“We’ve actually been, funny enough, working on that back play like all week in practice,” Sherley said. “The ball got hit to me, I just tried to freeze him with my eyes and saw he was too far off so I was like, ‘Let’s get the out,’ so I took off after him and we got him.”
The usually hot-hitting Bobcats didn’t hang their first run until the seventh inning. Before that, Texas State was propped up by its best collective pitching performance of the season thus far.
Junior Connor Reich received his first start since his dismal outing against Purdue in the season-opener. Reich pitched 6 2/3 innings, struck out six batters and only allowed one earned run.
Sophomore Anthony Pagano relieved the junior with the bases loaded during the top of the seventh. Pagano gave up one run on a sacrifice fly as Coastal Carolina padded its lead at the time to 3-0, but didn’t allow another run and recorded four strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings of work.
“Originally, (Reich) was going to be our Friday guy and didn’t throw good,” Harrington said. “We brought him slowly back through the pen and he earned the right to get out there tonight and I thought he looked like a Friday night starter.
“We minimized when we brought (Pagano) in and they only scored one it was a huge event for us at that point in time. They could’ve popped the game right then and it would’ve been hard for us to bounce back.”
Junior Blake Walden picked up the win (4-0) thanks to his three innings in which he gave up no runs, one hit and three strikeouts. Walden did walk four batters, but retired the Chanticleers in order in the top of the 14th to set up Newman’s walk-off.