Texas State baseball will open up conference play this weekend against the New Mexico State University Aggies, who are coming off sweep of Alabama A&M University in which they scored 79 runs in four games.
The Bobcats (7-13) are fresh off their second series win of the season against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The Bobcats battled back to win the last two games of the series after losing the first 23-7, mainly due to exhaustion from a five game road trip earlier in the week, according to Coach.
“It’s definitely positive momentum,” junior pitcher Kyle Finnegan said. “(We) are coming off probably the best back-to-back days we have had this year. So, we are going to use that, (plus) we hit the ball better and we pitched well. (We) are just going to use that confidence.”
The WAC did not schedule a midweek game for its members before the conference opens play this weekend, which has made time for Texas State to rest its once depleted bullpen. The team will need its bullpen at full strength to face an Aggie team that leads the league in runs scored (172).
“I think it’s good for all of the guys to work,” Finnegan said. “The guys in the bullpen may not be able to (pitch) every weekend so it was good to get them in there and keep them sharp for the upcoming weekend.”
New Mexico State (12-10) has two series sweeps on the season against Alabama A&M and LaSalle University. Eight of their 12 wins have come from those two series sweeps. The Aggies scored 20 runs in three games last weekend and 30 in the series finale.
The Aggies have played two ranked opponents, including North Carolina State University (10th), losing both of their contests 9-2 and 8-3. They played the 17th ranked Oklahoma University Sooners just last week, dropping both games 8-0 and 3-2.
New Mexico State is led offensively by junior infielder Tanner Rust, who is fourth in the conference in batting average (.375). He has added three home runs and 13 RBI to the Aggies lineup and also leads the WAC in runs scored with 26. Senior infielder Bobby Lecount is hitting .348 and leads the league with 28 RBI and four home runs.
The Aggies lead the conference in home runs with 21 on the season. Senior infielder Parker Hipp is among the league leaders in home runs with three on the season, adding 17 RBI. Junior outfielder Quinnton Mack is also an offensive weapon, leading the league in stolen bases with eight.
Finnegan will get his normal Friday night start this week after having to start on Sunday because of the number of games the Bobcats had to play last week. Finnegan (2-1) collected his first loss of the season against Oregon State University and is eager to build off his previous start against A&M-Corpus Christi, which resulted in a win.
“You have to have the same mind set every time you go out,” Finnegan said. “Granted, after a loss, you are definitely trying to win a little bit more. But, (you) keep the same even attitude and focus on making your pitches. The rest will take care of itself.”
The Bobcats sit near the bottom in hitting with a .247 average, but they have seen an increase since earlier in the season when it was below .200. Leading the way for the offense is sophomore outfielder Cody Lovejoy (.353). Junior second baseman Colby Targun was 5-9 in last weekend’s series and is now hitting .286 on the season.
“A lot of things have not been easy for different reasons,” Coach Ty Harrington said of his team’s adversity. “It speaks for the character of the team. If we can just get the fundamental part down, the character will start to come out.”
Texas State took a hit over the weekend when one of its leading hitters, senior Andrew Stumph (.302), went down with an ankle injury and will be out indefinitely. The team says it will work around the speed bump and battle through.
“(We are) looking past it,” freshman second baseman J.D. Stinnett said. “Knowing that we have (injuries), (we) are just trying to push past it. We know that we are struggling, and we just have to get over it. We have to do it together.”