Photo by Gerald Castillo
Bobcats back in the swing of things, take series over Georgia State
Texas State head coach Ty Harrington worried about his team overswinging the bat.
The symptoms first arose during the Bobcats’ 8-5 loss at UTSA on Tuesday, as they struck out 11 times. The issue continued to cause trouble for the team at the plate Saturday, which split a doubleheader with Georgia State (14-34, 5-19 Sun Belt) inside Bobcat Ballpark. But Texas State (33-15, 17-7) healed itself in Sunday’s finale to take the series over the Panthers, 2-1.
“We just kind of realized that we can’t do that,” sophomore right fielder John Wuthrich said. “To win, we’re going to have to buy into our approach that our coaches have set out for us because we’ve seen that whenever we buy into that, we’re really good. And when we don’t we can lose to anybody. I guess that was big for us, was just buying back in.”
The Bobcats took the opening game of Saturday’s doubleheader, but needed a grand slam to pull away. Heading into the bottom of the eighth, trailing 1-0, the hosts had only registered one hit — a single from redshirt senior third baseman Jaylen Hubbard in the team’s first at-bat.
Sophomore shortstop Dalton Shuffield broke the drought with a leadoff double to left field. Another double from senior first baseman Ryan Newman scored Shuffield to tie the game. Senior catcher Felipe Rodriguez followed with a single to the pitcher and Hubbard loaded the bases with a walk. Junior second baseman Jaxon Williams cleared them with a home run to left field that led to Texas State’s 5-1 victory.
Though Harrington was glad his team won, he wasn’t impressed by how it played.
“Not much (worked), really, to tell you the truth,” Harrington said. “I mean, we were able to scratch together a couple of hits and then Jaxon came up with the big swing, but that was really about the extent of it.”
He wasn’t impressed by his players in Saturday’s second game, either. Redshirt junior designated hitter Will Hollis picked up an RBI double in the fifth inning, scoring Rodriguez to take a 1-0 lead. But the visitors came from behind in the final two innings to take the 3-1 win. The Bobcats struck out seven times and left eight on base.
“We haven’t had many games where we’ve gone out and given up at-bats,” Harrington said. “We swung at balls that bounced, we swung at balls over our head, we swung at balls early that were down, that were non-barrel-type swings, ahead-of-the-count swings.”
The players ended on a strong note, though. Hubbard led off Sunday’s game with a walk and Williams followed with a double to center field. Hollis brought them both home with a single up the middle. Hollis scored later in the inning when redshirt senior left fielder smashed a two-RBI homer to right center field.
Texas State continued to build on its big first inning. The team racked up 14 hits, with each player chipping in at least one. Hubbard added a home run and Wuthrich added two. The Bobcats only struck out six times and left six on base. The game ended in eight innings after Shuffield doubled to score Wuthrich, defeating Georgia State by run rule, 12-2.
“When we won 10 in a row, everyone was just really locked in, playing for the team, not themselves,” Wuthrich said. “And then we dropped the Tuesday game and then dropped one in the doubleheader. And we were just able to respond and get back to what we do. Played as a team and it worked out for us today.”
Harrington enjoyed seeing the rough patch at the plate come to an end. The team will need the bats to stay hot on Tuesday as it travels to UFCU Disch-Falk Field for a rematch with Texas (25-25, 6-14 Big 12) at 6:30 p.m. Texas State beat the Longhorns in their first meeting, 7-6, on April 23 inside Bobcat Ballpark.
“(It’s a) big game,” Wuthrich said. “I expect a lot of energy from us, from them, the crowd. And I expect us to just come in there and do what we do. And as long as we take care of our side of the baseball, locked in offensively, playing really good defense, throwing strikes, we have a really good shot to win.”