Photo by Gerald Castillo
Bobcats power past Utah in season opener
Ryan Newman felt like Texas State got the monkey off its back in the season opener.
The Bobcats began the 2019 season with an 8-3 win over Utah at the Texas State Classic in front of 2,107 maroon and gold clad fans inside Bobcat Ballpark on Friday.
“You know, you’re out here, the first game and you’ve already got the win, we’re just trying to keep the momentum into the rest of the weekend,” said Newman, who made the start at first base.
Sophomore shortstop Dalton Shuffield hit a leadoff double to kick things off for Texas State (1-0). A sac-fly from redshirt senior right fielder Skyler Valentine brought home Shuffield. Back-to-back singles from sophomore right fielder John Wuthrich and Newman followed by an error allowed the Bobcats to bring home their second run of the inning
But Utah (0-1) evened the score in the top of the second. The Utes took a 3-2 lead in the third inning.
Newman tied the game with a deep shot over the right field wall in the fourth inning.
“(Hitting the home run) felt really good,” Newman said. “I was just excited to help my team and tie the game up.”
Texas State’s offense continued its strong outing in the fifth inning. Redshirt senior third baseman Jaylen Hubbard began the frame with a leadoff single. Junior Cole Coffey gave Texas State a 4-3 lead with a two-out, pinch-hit RBI single. Junior second baseman Jaxon Williams extended the Bobcat lead with an RBI single.
Texas State added three more runs to secure the 8-3 win.
Junior right-handed pitcher Nick Fraze earned the win for the Bobcats after 6.1 innings pitched with two strikeouts. He only allowed four hits and two earned runs in his first outing of the season. Texas State received a strong relief performance from senior lefty Brandon Lewis, who earned a 2.2-inning save.
“I was pleased with Nick (Fraze) once he reintroduced himself to his fastball command again and got his competitiveness back with his fastball,” head coach Ty Harrington said. “You could see the field shift with the ground ball part of it. He showed the composure of why the guy’s been a starter for three years and I thought he was good. I thought Brandon Lewis was really, really good again. So, anytime you pitch like that, you’re going to give yourself a chance."
Harrington was pleased with his offense, which scored its eight runs off 12 hits. Newman brought home two RBIs, while Wuthrich went 2 for 3 at the plate with three runs scored.
"We didn’t have many give-away at bats tonight,” Harrington said. “I thought we did a great job of hanging in with good at bats. We had a handful of two-strike at bats that were good then I think we had two two-out at bats that were really, really good with (Cole) Coffey and Jaxon Williams.”
Defensively, Texas State performed well despite an error. Harrington was impressed with Hubbard, Williams and Shuffield, who made his first start at shortstop on Friday.
“I thought we did a great job of handling the baseball,” Harrington said. “I thought Jaxon had a nice play in the ninth with a ball on the run. (Hubbard) had a good night over at third base with some really confident plays over there today. Shuffield was good tonight too. It was the first time he’s really been the guy in the middle of the field. So, it was good to see him get in and do well. I thought our defensive effort was tremendous tonight.”
Texas State continues play in its host tournament against Nevada (1-0) on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Bobcat Ballpark.