There was one goal in mind for the Texas State baseball team coming into Saturday’s game — secure a spot in the Sun Belt Conference tournament.
Texas State defeated the UT-Arlington Mavericks, 22-8, on senior day at Bobcat Ballpark.
The win secured a spot in the Sun Belt Conference tournament, but the team clinched a berth following Louisiana-Monroe’s loss to Louisiana-Lafayette.
Texas State, the six seed in the tournament, will face either Louisiana-Lafayette, Georgia Southern or Troy in the first round of the tournament. The conference tournament begins next Wednesday in Troy, Alabama.
“This game gives us momentum,” said Jeremy Fikac, assistant coach. “I thought our kids were relentless and carried the offensive momentum we gained yesterday into today.”
This was the first time Texas State recorded 20 or more runs since they scored 20 against Penn State on March 12, 2010. Texas State’s offensive output on Saturday sets season-highs in runs scored (22), hits (20) and home runs (4). The Bobcat offense only hit in six innings because the game was called in the seventh inning on a run rule.
“We stayed competitive and didn’t give up any at-bats,” Fikac said. “You can get to 10 or 12 runs, but immature teams give away at-bats and I thought our team showed maturity today. We took walks and continued to battle.”
The Bobcat offense scored three runs in the first inning after the Mavericks took a 2-0 lead. UT-Arlington took the lead in the top of the second inning, but Texas State took over the game after that.
Texas State loaded the bases in the bottom of the second inning and Tanner Hill, junior catcher, came up to bat with two outs. Hill worked the count to 2-1, and the junior catcher hit a high fly ball over the center field wall to score four runs for the Bobcats.
Hill’s grand slam was the first grand slam for the team this season. Hill recorded two runs batted in in the first inning with a bases loaded double.
Hill finished the game with nine runs batted, tying the school record for an individual game. John Tompkins recorded nine runs batted for Texas State on March 28, 1999.
“It feels great to set a record,” Hill said. “I felt like every time I came up the bases were loaded or two runners were in scoring position. I can’t take all the credit, the guys in front of me was doing their job getting on base.”
Hill finished the season with a.320 batting average, which is a team-high.
“In the last 15 games he has been fantastic,” Fikac said. “We slid him into the four-hole when there wasn’t a lot of offensive production, and he’s been really steady.”
The rest of Texas State’s offense put up three or more runs in the all of the first five innings. Four of the runs came from the second grand slam of the game from Cedric Vallieres, senior second baseman. Vallieres’ grand slam made the score 12-5.
“This win was huge for us,” Hill said. “If we can hit like this, and our guys on the mound can do what they’re capable of doing, then we can make a long run in the tournament.”