Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Article Image Alt Text

Photo courtesy of Kate Connors, Texas State Athletics

Bobcats heat up to stifle UC Santa Barbara, 7-3

Texas State Baseball
Saturday, June 4, 2022

PALO ALTO, Calif. — Texas State slowly, but surely, got its offense in gear, staving off UC Santa Barbara 7-3 in the NCAA Stanford Regional on Friday night. The Bobcats (46-12, 26-4 Sun Belt) take aim at No. 2 overall seed Stanford (42-14, 21-9 Pac-12) Saturday at 9 p.m. CT with the winner holding the hammer on Sunday.

“It will be fun,” Texas State coach Steven Trout said. “I told the guys, we came a long ways, not for just one win. We respect Stanford so much and what they do, the history of the program. They have an unbelievable ball club. We will be there to battle. We’ll see how good this Bobcats team can be.”

Gauchos sophomore starting pitcher Cory Lewis (9-1) fanned five batters in the first two frames of Friday’s game, striking out the side in the first. Lewis finished with 8 strikeouts in 5.0 innings.

“Their guy (Lewis) was really good early,” Trout said. “He didn’t make a lot of mistakes. He threw it up in the zone, getting on us a little. We just grinded him out. It’s what this team does.”

Down 2-0, junior catcher Peyton Lewis provided a major blow for the Bobcats, driving a 3-run jack over the right field wall in the bottom of the fourth. That followed an RBI double by freshman first baseman Daylan Pena as the Bobcats put a four-spot on the board.

“Even though it was our first regional in 11 years, our guys were confident, loose,” Trout said. “I don’t think our guys were nervous. It was more how their guy was throwing. Our guys did a good job slowing it down, taking it pitch-by-pitch. When they got ‘em, they made him pay for it.”

Pena had three hits in four trips, with a run scored.

“Pena let everybody catch their breath,” Trout said. “He’s a freshman, but he doesn’t play like a freshman. We have a lot of confidence in that guy.”

Ben McClain extended the advantage to 6-3 with a no-doubt, two-run round-tripper in the bottom of the sixth. A walk by Peyton Lewis with the bases juiced in the seventh netted the final run of the game.

The Gauchos jumped out first when sophomore centerfielder Nick Vogt doubled to left-center, scoring sophomore designated hitter Blake Klassen, who led the game off with a single. The Bobcats turned a nifty 4-6-3 double play in the inning, limiting the damage.

“The 4-6-3 double-play was huge,” Trout said. “We gave up the hit after that but, fortunately, we had turned the double-play.”

Redshirt junior right fielder Broc Mortenson skied a home run to straightaway centerfield, leading off the top of the second to make it 2-0 Gauchos.

The teams exchanged great defensive plays in the third. Peyton Lewis threw behind UCSB junior left fielder Chrisian Kirtley, who was straying off of first base. Pena implemented a hard, backhand tag to Kirtley’s head for the out. Peyton Lewis showed off his strong arm once more in the fourth, gunning down Gauchos sophomore shortstop Jordan Sprinkle trying to swipe second base.

“We got our pants pulled down on the bases,” UCSB coach Andrew Checketts said. “We were aware of those plays. Those weren’t surprises.”

In the bottom half of the third, senior shortstop Dalton Shuffield hit a screaming liner to left centerfield. Vogt sprinted into the gap to make the catch to rob the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, crashing into the wall.

Junior starting pitcher Zeke Wood (7-1) got the win for the Bobcats, working 6.0 innings, striking out seven batters with three walks.

After junior right-handed reliever Triston Dixon went a third of an inning in the bottom of the seventh, redshirt junior lefty Austin Smith threw the final 2.2 innings, whiffing 4 batters to record the save, his first of the season. The Bobcats’ star closer, Tristan Stivors (nation-best 17 saves) will be rested for Stanford, if needed.

“Stivors is the guy that always closes for us,” Smith said. “I wanted it. I told myself, ‘Don’t let Stivors come out here.’ That was my goal (tonight).”

“Stivors was ready to go,” Trout said. “Sometimes, coaches have to have a feel. Smith was feeling it. Smitty had it going. When he has it going, he’s tough to hit. He’s a competitive guy.”

Vogt had a nice evening at the plate, stroking an RBI double in the first, adding a solo shot in the sixth.

“Texas State played a good game and we played poorly,” Checketts said. “We didn’t throw enough strikes.”

The Bobcats worked eight walks as a team, three of them by senior designated hitter Wesley Faison.

Tourney notes: Stanford set a postseason record for runs in a 20-7 rout of Binghamton (N.Y.) in the opener. The Bearcats face the Gauchos in an elimination game at 3 p.m. on Saturday … Gauchos third baseman Bryce Willits sacrificed his body to grab a foul ball pop-up off the bat of Jose Gonzalez. Willits went head-over-teakettle over a concrete wall, making the catch in the bottom of the eighth.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666