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Above, Texas State junior right-handed pitcher Zeke Wood gets ready to fire a pitch during the Bobcats’ season-opening series against Utah Valley on Feb. 18. Daily Record photo by Gerald Castillo

TXST takes down Ohio State in series opener

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Hitting hasn’t been a problem thus far for Texas State.

After defeating Wichita State 9-2 the night before, the maroon and gold took to their home field Friday evening for the start of a three-game series against Ohio State at Bobcat Ballpark. Between starting pitchers Zeke Wood and Isaiah Coupet, they threw 17 strikeouts in the first five innings of the game but a five-run fifth inning by the Bobcats rewarded them with a 9-1 win — their third straight.

Texas State (5-1) is averaging nine runs per game after the win on Friday and has already scored double-digit runs in two of its four games — all resulting in wins for the hosts.

“I think one thing is our confidence right now,” head coach Steven Trout said. “Our guys are feeling good about themselves. I was really proud of them because their lefty was really good. He had a really good breaking ball and we knew that going into it. We built his pitch count up, finally took advantage of an error and then we started landing on some baseballs. I was really proud of our guys, it was a tough night to score again and we scored nine so that’s a sign of a really good offense. And so you know usually when the winds blowing out we score a lot of runs.”

Coupet had been dealing strikes along with Wood and it looked like he was going to keep the Bobcats scoreless for another inning by throwing his seventh and eighth strikeouts of the game. Quickly, the tides turned as Texas State senior shortstop Dalton Shuffield hit the ball directly to the shortstop who got a bad handle on the ball and had to throw it to first. That ball rolled under the first baseman’s glove, allowing the first run of the day. From then on, it was all Texas State from behind the plate. Junior infielder Jose Gonzales singled but multiple throwing errors by the Buckeyes gave Texas State’s baserunners the chance to cross home and took Gonzales to third base.

Senior infielder Justin Thompson followed that act with an RBI double into the gap that brought in Gonzales from third. The Buckeyes subbed out Coupet for Ethan Hammerberg but that didn’t change anything as the very next batter for Texas State scored making it 5-0, advantage Bobcats. “I think we really just wanted to do something for Zeke,” Thompson said. “The guy was out there pitching his butt off but also we kept on saying we gotta get him one, we gotta get him a couple or something to back him up a little bit. We just found a way and it was huge and really turned the game around.”

Trout explained what it’s like under these conditions and what it takes to turn things around on offense quickly. 

“When you’re faced with a good arm on Friday night, sometimes it might be the fifth, it might be the seventh inning,” Trout said. “You just gotta wear that guy out and eventually they’re gonna make mistakes and when they do you got to get them and for us it was just being patient with it. You can see once our team gets going. It’s hard to get them out. They start having fun, they start getting energy and it’s a fun team that gets rolling once they start getting two out hits.”

Wesley Faison hit a lead-off home run deep to left field to extend Texas states lead to six at the bottom of the seventh.  

Wood received the win after a dominant outing on the mound. The junior recorded seven innings of work, finishing with 10 strikeouts, 16 straight retired, and only one walk given up. Following Friday’s win, Wood said it felt good to have all of his pitches working for him against Ohio State.

“The curveball, fastball, changeup. I didn’t have to use the changeup and curveball too much but being able to show it and then dominate with the fastball and execute pitches,” Wood said.

Texas State and Ohio State (3-2) continue their series at Bobcat Ballpark on Saturday, and Sunday. Trout fully expects Ohio State to respond during the last two games of the series but also said that’s what makes playing the same team in a series fun. 

“That’s the beauty of a series,” Trout said. “They come in and they’re gonna do everything they can to win tomorrow. I like our chances with Levi Wells on the mound and hopefully he has another great performance like he did last time. It’s gonna be a rainy cold day again. Today, we played the better defense. That’s all you want from the game. Tomorrow should be the same thing. We go out and play clean baseball we’ll have a chance to win.”

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