Texas State baseball’s conference-worst .183 batting average continued to be a glaring weakness in the weekend series against the University of Houston.
The team’s offense came through with 10 hits Friday night for a 6-1 victory against the Cougars. However, the Bobcats only managed eight hits for the rest of the weekend and fell back into their offensive slump with 1-0 and 4-2 losses on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
“We have a lot of guys hurt,” Coachsaid. “Injuries are not supposed to be an excuse but the reality is we have some guys out right now. It’s made our lineup a little bit softer. We have to get those guys healthy, and the guys who are healthy have to play better. The bottom line is we are not offensive right now. We are pitching fine and the defense is good enough, but we are not scoring runs.”
The Bobcats used five runs in the first two innings to coast to a 6-1 victory in the first game. Sophomore designated hitter Cody Lovejoy was 3-4 with an RBI, a run and a walk. Lovejoy currently is the team’s second leading hitter, batting .294.
Sophomore shortstop Garrett Mattlage, who is the team’s leading hitter (.296), had an RBI in the second inning, knocking in senior outfielder Morgan Mickan.
Junior catcher Tyler Pearson added to Lovejoy’s efforts with a run and a fifth inning RBI while hitting 2-3 from the dish.
Junior pitcher Kyle Finnegan earned his first win after a no decision last week. He gave up one earned run on three hits in five innings of work. Finnegan struck out nine while walking four.
Freshman pitcher Lucas Humpal came in relief and pitched three innings while walking one and giving up one hit. Sophomore pitcher Austen Williams made his appearance in the ninth inning to protect and ultimately seal the game for the Bobcats.
“I always have confidence in (the bullpen),” said junior pitcher Scott Grist. “When Donnie Hart came in, I had no doubt in my mind that he was going to get that guy out. It doesn’t happen every time, but I always have confidence in those guys no matter what.”
The Bobcats were able to get to Houston’s ace starter Matt Hernandez (1-1), who pitched an inning and a third after giving up five earned runs on five hits. He did not record a strikeout and walked two batters.
The following two games for the Bobcats produced almost polar opposite results. The second game of the series was a pitcher’s duel with only three total hits from both clubs. Texas State’s lone hit came from Lovejoy.
Houston got its first hit and run in the second inning, when third baseman Jonathan Davis doubled to right center, batting in first baseman Justin Montemayor. The Cougars won 1-0, their second victory in their last 10 matchups with the Bobcats.
Sophomore pitcher Taylor Black was a bright spot in the box score for Texas State in his seven and one thirds inning of work. Black gave up one run on one hit and three walks and six strikeouts. The bullpen consisted of seniors Michael Pitts and Covey Morrow and junior Donnie Hart. All combined had one hit, no runs and three strikeouts.
The deciding match went in Houston’s favor after Texas State gave up two runs in the 10th inning. Texas State has now been in as many extra-inning games this season (3) as last season but has lost them all. The Bobcats took the lead in the sixth inning when Lovejoy scored on a passed ball.
Grist battled back from his loss last weekend with seven and one third innings and gave up two runs on seven hits. Grist struck out seven while walking one. Junior pitcher Hunter Lemke earned his second loss of the season, giving up two runs on four hits, all in the final two innings.
Lovejoy and Mattlage enjoyed their best weekends of the young season. Combined, the two had nine hits in 23 at-bats (.391), half of the hits for Texas State through the weekend. They also contributed to two of the team’s eight runs in the series.
“More confident? Yes. For sure? No,” answered Lovejoy when asked how he stands in the lineup after a solid weekend at the plate. “(Harrington) says you have to earn stuff around here. Whoever is playing the best should play. That is just how it should be.”
There have been a lot of changes to the lineup since the team’s loss to Baylor University last week. One of last weekend’s starters, senior catcher Andrew Stumph, saw little action the entire series. He was called upon to pinch hit in Sunday’s loss to Houston where he lined out to center field.
“No, nowhere near close,” said Harrington on how near he is to a set lineup. “Nobody’s job on this team right now is insured. There’s nothing set on this team right now.”