Texas State baseball (11-14 overall, 2-4 Sun Belt) won its first series of the season 2-1 against the University of Louisiana at Monroe Warhawks (10-10 overall, 3-3 Sun Belt) from March 26-28.
The Maroon and Gold came into the matchup looking to right the ship as they went 5-8 throughout March.
Their first game was a nail-biter. The contest had everything from high-powered bats to questionable umpire calls, which led to Head Coach Steven Trout's ejection.
The duel on the mound for the game was between Bobcats' senior pitcher Zachary Leigh and redshirt freshman pitcher Cam Barlow.
The Bobcats found themselves behind the eight-ball early, as Leigh gave up two runs in the first inning. ULM’s offense attack was led by junior outfielder Trace Henry and junior outfielder Mason Holt as both scored in the first, putting the Warhawks up 2-0.
An unforeseen fielding error by the Bobcats cost them another two runs, which ultimately put them behind 4-0 at the end of the first inning.
The home plate umpire called Texas State’s graduate catcher Tucker Redden for obstruction for blocking the plate. Trout, furious, immediately protested the error, which led to his ejection in the first inning.
The Bobcats never seemed to bounce back from their initial 4-0 deficit. After an RBI-single in the third inning from junior infielder Justin Thompson, the Bobcats tried to make a comeback effort with every plate appearance.
ULM had their foot on the gas offensively, as, in the fifth and sixth innings, they put two more runs on the board.
The Bobcats tried to rally in the eighth inning after grad student catcher Bryce Bonner drilled a home-run to left field. Senior infielder Jaxon Williams cracked a double to left field, followed by senior infielder Cole Coffey hitting a sacrifice fly to bring Williams home.
The Bobcats scored three runs from the sixth to eighth innings, but in the end, it wasn’t enough. After a quick three up, three down in the ninth inning, they dropped the first game of the series 6-5.
Despite the slow start in the contest, Assistant Coach Chad Massengale was confident the team would win the matchup's final two games.
“We ran up against some tough luck in the first inning.” Massengale says, “But we’re still in good position to win this series. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
The loss was Leigh's fourth of the year, while Barlow picked up his third win of the season.
The second contest was a barnburner, as senior outfielder Will Hollis headlined the game with a walk-off RBI-double in the 10th inning.
Redshirt freshman pitcher Cameron Bush started the game for the Bobcats, as for ULM it was sophomore pitcher Tylor Jans. Neither picked up a win or a loss on the night.
Texas State put up one run after Hollis scored on a balk. The Warhawks then added three runs in the second, after ULM’s freshman infielder Michael Cervantes hit a three-run home run in the third inning. That put the Warhawks up 3-1 at the top of the second.
Texas State attacked the ball much differently in the innings that followed. Coffey hit a moon shot to right field, a solo home run that brought the Bobcats to within one run after the second inning.
After Bush pitched a clean inning at the top of the third, Bonner came up big once again with an RBI-single tied the game at three apiece after the third inning.
Both sides cleaned up their pitching after the third inning. Neither team scored a run for four straight innings, with Texas State and ULM splitting the hits battle by one hit or less until the eighth inning.
Then, senior outfielder Ryan Humeniuk hit a two RBI-single to put ULM up 5-3 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning.
After a quiet eighth inning, the Bobcats roared back in the ninth. As sophomore outfielder Jose Gonzalez got on base, sophomore utility Peyton Lewis hit a rocket into right field that tied the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the ninth.
With a fresh breath of life, the Bobcats turned to junior pitcher Tristan Stivors in the 10th inning. He pitched a clean inning, giving up zero runs, and the Bobcats entered the bottom of the inning with a chance to bring home the win.
Junior infielder Cameron Gibbons came into the game to pinch-hit for Texas State as he got on base with a single to bring-up Hollis to bat. With a 1-2 count, Hollis hit a walk-off RBI double that gave Texas State a 6-5 victory.
Hollis points out the magnitude of the victory and says he was ready to deliver the victory as he looked to stay calm at the plate.
“The win was huge," Hollis says. "For us to come out here and battle today and come back with a win is huge. I tried not to do too much, I was trying to stick to my approach and stay simple.”
The win split the series at one each, heading into the final battle. Stivors picked up his first win of the season, while ULM’s senior pitcher Cole Martin grabbed his first loss.
The final contest of the weekend was headlined by graduate pitcher Garrett Herrmann. His seven innings at the mound proved to be treacherous for the ULM bats.
ULM’s senior outfielder Andrew Beesley scored the only run of the evening for the Warhawks. His RBI-groundout was the first run of the evening, but the only one for the team all afternoon.
Texas State quickly answered after Coffey reached base on a fielder's choice, leading Bonner to score. The run tied the game up at 1-1 after the second inning.
Seven strikeouts later for Herrmann, the score was tied at 1-1 until the seventh inning. Then, junior infielder Dalton Sheffield hit a solo homer to left-center, breaking the tie.
In the bottom of the eighth, Thompson hit a two-run home run into left-field that broke open the score 4-1.
At the top of the ninth, Stivors secured his third save of the season. He struck out the side, sealing the victory for the Bobcats.
The Bobcats will face the Bears at 6:30 p.m. on Mar. 30 at Baylor Ballpark in Waco, Texas. This game will be streamed on ESPN+.