The Texas State baseball team came into Thursday’s Sun Belt Conference tournament game with an opportunity to advance to the semifinals.
Only the UT-Arlington Mavericks were standing in the Bobcats’ path.
Texas State jumped out to an early lead by going up 5-0 in the third inning. The team did not look back in the 10-2 victory over the Mavericks.
“Our kids were fantastic tonight,” said Jeremy Fikac, assistant coach. “One through nine our offense was fantastic. We had a lot of loud outs tonight as well.”
Texas State will need one victory against the winner of the elimination matchup between UT-Arlington and Louisiana-Lafayette in order to advance to the Sun Belt Conference Championship game.
The Bobcats have already beaten both teams in the tournament, with three straight wins over UT-Arlington.
Texas State won against the Mavericks on Thursday in a team effort.
One of the players that produced for the team was David Paiz, senior first basemen. Paiz hit 2-for-3 in the game and drove in five runs. The first baseman gave Texas State their first runs of the game with an triple in the second inning.
Paiz then broke the game wide open with his at-bat in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The senior came up with one out and runners on first and second base. Paiz was down 1-2 in the count, but he hammered the next pitch over the left-center field wall for a home run.
The home run put the game out of reach for the Mavericks, and gave Paiz his fifth run batted in in the game.
Paiz recorded six runs batted in against Louisiana-Lafayette in the first round and now has 11 overall in the tournament. The record for runs batted in for a tournament is 13.
“My teammates in front of me are giving me a chance to drive them in,” Paiz said. “I’ve been staying with my approach to keep the ball in the middle of the field, and that’s when I’m at my best.”
The team received three hits from Ben McElroy, senior designated hitter, and a three-run home run from Cory Geisler, junior center fielder.
Texas State had another upper classman contribute to the win against the Mavericks.
Scott Grist, senior pitcher, was the starter for Texas State, and he knew this game could possibly be his final time playing in a Texas State uniform.
Grist pitched nine innings while giving up two runs and striking out three batters. Grist’s last game of the regular season happened to be a complete victory against UT-Arlington as well.
“I can’t say enough about Scott tonight,” Fikac said. “He’s put together back-to-back complete games, and I thought our defense had his back tonight as well.”
Grist’s complete game not only helped the team record the victory, but will keep the team’s bullpen fresh and ready to go for the rest of the tournament.
The team will receive an extra day of rest as they will be spectators on Friday. Paiz said the day off is much-needed.
The team will play on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. against the winner of the elimination game. If Texas State loses, they will have another opportunity to advance to the finals in 7:30 p.m. matchup on Saturday.
“We’re playing with a lot of momentum, and there’s a lot of confidence in our dugout right now,” Fikac said. “We’re looking forward to playing on Saturday, and we’re going to enjoy this win tonight.”
Follow Matt Gurevitz on Twitter at @Matt_Gurevitz.