Photo by Gerald Castillo
Hubbard's late hit fuels Bobcats' extra-inning win over Rice
Jaylen Hubbard told himself "never twice" when he walked up to the batter’s box in the 10th inning with Texas State and Rice tied at 6-6.
The senior third baseman had an opportunity to come up with a big hit in the eighth inning with the bases loaded but he struck out. Hubbard knew he wasn’t going to let another chance slip away with runners on second and third in the 10th. He slapped a ball into center field to bring home the game-winning run.
Hubbard rounded first and was met by his teammates ready to mob him in celebration.
Texas State defeated Rice 7-6 inside Bobcat Ballpark on Tuesday
“Bases were loaded in the eighth and I kind of let it slip away with a couple bad swings,” Hubbard said. “It turns out, like coach Ty (Harrington) says ‘The game does have a weird way of coming back to you.’”
Texas State (16-9, 4-2 Sun Belt) took a quick 1-0 lead over Rice (9-18, 1-5 Conference USA) in the first inning. Sophomore shortstop Dalton Shuffield began the inning with a leadoff single. An Owl error allowed Shuffield to move safely to second and junior second baseman Jaxon Williams to reach first. A groundout by redshirt junior designated hitter Will Hollis moved both runners into scoring position. Hubbard brought home the lone run of the frame with a sac-fly.
The Bobcats added to their lead with a four-run fourth inning. Texas State used a two-run RBI single from redshirt senior left fielder Travon Benton and a two-run home run by junior center fielder Chase Evans to secure a 5-0 advantage.
But Rice began a four-inning tear in the fifth inning. The Owls plated two runs in the fifth with an RBI double from junior right fielder Bradley Gneiting. Rice scored another run in the sixth to cut Texas State’s lead to 5-3.
But the Bobcats answered with a run of their own in the bottom frame when Benton hit a solo home run.
The Owls, however, tied the game at 6-6 by scoring a run in the seventh and two in the eighth. Neither team was able to break the tie in the ninth and the game went to extras.
Texas State kept Rice off the board in the top of the 10th. The Bobcats began the bottom of the inning with a walk from senior catcher Felipe Rodriguez. Shuffield moved Rodriguez to second with a sac-bunt. A single from Williams put runners on the corners. Williams stole second to put both Bobcats in scoring position. Hubbard ended the game with his walk-off single.
“Anytime you can win against a program like Rice, it’s a good thing and an important thing at home,” head coach Ty Harrington said. “We had a good first half of the game. Second half of the game, we couldn’t come up with a hit. We had some base runners. We landed on some balls. But we could not get the big hit that would bust it open and we didn’t pitch like we are capable of pitching. The last three frames of the game we walked six or seven and that’s not the way this staff is. This staff is going to have to be better and they can be better and they will be better than that.”
Junior pitcher Zachary Leigh earned the win on the mound. Leigh pitched two innings of relief and struck out three, while only giving up one hit. Sophomore pitcher Drake Greenwood received the loss for Rice.
Texas State travels to Boone, N.C. to take on Appalachian State (10-13. 3-3) in a three-game Sun Belt series, beginning on Friday at 4 p.m. inside Beaver Field.