Texas State baseball (47-13) took its first loss in the NCAA Tournament at the helm of the Stanford Cardinal (44-15), 8-4, Sunday, at Klein Field at Sunken Diamond in Palo Alto, California. The ‘Cats will get another shot at the host, Monday, at 7 p.m. PT (9 p.m. CT).
The Cardinal out-hit the Bobcats in the contest, 13-4, including three home runs off Bobcat pitchers. The difference-maker in the game was two yard-balls, totaling five runs batted in, from sophomore designated hitter Carter Graham who was injured in the first game between the Bobcats and the Cardinal while running into the fence to catch a pop-up in foul territory.
“Big shot in the arm to have Carter (Graham) come to play game two [obviously],” Cardinal head coach David Esquer said. “Those two home runs just set the tone for us.”
In the top of the first, Bobcat junior left-fielder Jose Gonzalez did what Jose Gonzalez does and hit a solo shot to deep center-field. The home run by Gonzalez was his third in two games against the Cardinal, opening up scoring in the game.
In the bottom half of the inning, Graham took the one-run lead from the Bobcats on the first pitch he saw from starting right-handed pitcher Tony Robie with a two-run shot after his Cardinal teammate, junior center-fielder Brock Jones, led off with a double.
After a scoreless second inning by both squads, Justin Thompson was able to bat in Shuffield from second to tie the game with an RBI double.
Going into the bottom of the fourth, tied at two, Graham came to the plate with runners on first and second with two outs. Once again, the first pitch the designated hitter saw of his third at-bat against Robie, Graham blasted a three-run home run – ultimately being the difference-maker in the game.
“I think we’ve got to give some credit to Stanford tonight,” Bobcat head coach Steven Trout said. “They made some really big swings in some really big moments.”
Robie suffered his first loss of the year, giving up five runs on eight hits in 4.1 innings of play while striking out four batters for the ‘Cats.
Freshman starting pitcher for the Cardinal, Ty Uber, picked up his fourth win of the year while only giving up three runs on three hits in five innings pitched while striking out two Bobcat batters.
The matchup Monday will be a winner-take-all game to punch their ticket to the NCAA Super Regionals. The Bobcat coaching staff has the task at hand to figure out who they want to start on the mound, especially knowing that starting off positively will be the key to winning.
“There’s a lot of different options we can go,” coach Trout said. “We’ve got to sit down and look at it and try and figure out how we’re going to get off to our best start. To me, it’s important to get off to a good start because if you start getting behind then [obviously] you’re playing with a different momentum.”
The Cardinal have a different approach, with an extra game under their belt in the Regional, getting through the game without allowing too much damage.
“I don’t know who the heck is going to pitch,” coach Esquer said. “We’re gonna figure out how to get nine innings in there tomorrow … we’ve got some names, we’ve just got to piece together nine innings.”
The first pitch in the winner-take-all Regional final between the Cardinal and the Bobcats is set for 7 p.m. PT (9 p.m. CT), Monday, at Klein Field at Sunken Diamond in Palo Alto, California.
Continue to follow along on Twitter during the Stanford Regional as Sports Reporter Kyle Owen will be reporting live from Palo Alto, California.