Photo by Gerald Castillo
Texas State extends win streak to five, take first series over Red Wolves
Texas State head coach Ty Harrington stuck with Nick Fraze.
The junior right-handed pitcher kept Arkansas State hitless through the first three innings of the Bobcats’ game against the Red Wolves inside Bobcat Ballpark on Friday. Fraze also picked up his second strikeout of the night against the visitors’ leadoff hitter in the top of the fourth inning.
But after Arkansas State senior first baseman Kyle MacDonald reached on an error, Fraze made his first mistake of the night. Junior designated hitter Sky-Lar Culver blasted a ball over the right centerfield fence for a two-run homer. Fraze slipped up again two at-bats later, as redshirt senior third baseman Alex Howard drilled a solo home run to left field to give the Red Wolves a 3-0 lead.
Harrington could have pulled Fraze for a fresher arm. He didn’t. He wanted to see what the junior would do next.
“In baseball, when you’re the guy out there on the mound and you give up homers like that and you give up a three spot, there’s two ways you go at that point: you become passive or you become better,” Harrington said. “I thought (Fraze) got even more competitive.”
Fraze got the next out, then delivered another 3.2 scoreless innings for the team. Texas State’s bats came alive in the final few frames and the Bobcats came from behind to capture the 5-3 win.
“I thought that was a huge part of us being able to win the game because (Fraze) got us to the eighth inning,” Harrington said. “And so, I was excited and pleased with his confidence after something negative like that. I thought it was really good.”
By the bottom of the sixth inning, the hosts had left three runners on base with no scores to show for it. That changed when redshirt junior designated hitter Will Hollis singled up the middle to move junior second baseman Jaxon Williams into scoring position with one out.
A sacrifice fly from sophomore right fielder John Wuthrich allowed Williams to tag up to third. Redshirt senior left fielder Travon Benton followed with a deep line drive to right field. Williams and Hollis both crossed home plate to cut into the deficit. The inning ended when Benton failed to beat the ball to third base while attempting to go for the triple.
The team continued swinging at its opponent. And thanks to Fraze’s pitching, the hits landed hard.
Runs from sophomore shortstop Dalton Shuffield and redshirt senior centerfielder Skyler Valentine pushed Texas State in front in the next inning. Wuthrich added one more for good measure in the eighth to give the Bobcats a two-run advantage.
Fraze was swapped for senior lefty Anthony Pagano with one out left in the bottom of the eighth. The reliever closed out the game striking out Arkansas State’s last three batters in the final frame to earn a save in the 5-3 victory.
“We had to earn it, they had to earn it,” Harrington said. “Our hitters really had to earn it and they really had to grind at-bat.”
Fraze (6-3) ended the evening with one earned run allowed on three hits and two walks while striking out three during his 7.2 innings. His ERA now sits at 4.26. Benton led the team with two RBIs, batting 1-3. Wuthrich went 2-4 with a single and a double.
Texas State (26-13, 11-6 Sun Belt) took its first series over the Red Wolves in school history with its win on Friday. The Bobcas will look to make it a sweep on Saturday, when the two square off again at 1 p.m. inside Bobcat Ballpark.
Harrington noted that while it’s nice to pick up a program milestone, his players’ objective should remain the same.
“What’s crazy about this game is it’s a short-lived turnaround until the next moment,” Harrington said. “Tonight’s a win because we haven’t beaten or won a series from them in a while and that always means something. But the big picture is, too, you want another Sun Belt win.”