NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The Stephen F. Austin baseball team outhit defending league champion Texas State, but left 12 runners stranded and committed a pair of errors that led to two unearned runs as the Bobcats escaped with a 4-2 win on Thursday in the series opener at Jaycees Field.
SFA (16-8, 6-3 Southland) had a golden opportunity to tie or take the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning, trailing 4-2 when it loaded the bases off of Bobcat (16-8, 8-2 Southland) starter Carson Smith with nobody out. But the ‘Cats then turned to the pen as closer Garrett Carruth came on to retire the next three ‘Jacks he faced before pitching a perfect ninth to secure the win for Texas State.
The ‘Jacks managed a dozen hits off of Smith, who earned his third win of the year in throwing 132 pitches in 7.0 innings. He finished with just one walk and five strikeouts while surrendering both SFA runs. Carruth tossed the final two innings, fanning two to earn his fourth save of the year.
Tyler Herriage pitched well for SFA, but took his second loss of the season after allowing seven hits and four runs – two earned – in 6.1 innings with three walks and two strikeouts.
Garrett Smith and Bo Coffman each finished with three hits for the ‘Jacks, while Riley Huble and Jarid Scarafiotti had two apiece.
Jeff McVaney and Clint Vest each had two hits for Texas State, but it was the SFA defense that proved to be the biggest aide to the Texas State cause as errors in both the second and seventh innings led to the two unearned runs that proved to be the difference in the ballgame.
The ‘Cats took advantage of a first-inning walk to leadoff man Tyler Sibley to jump out to an early 1-0 lead when Jason Martinson delivered a two-out RBI single off of Herriage, but Garrett Smith's leadoff double in the bottom of the first turned into an SFA run when Darren Crabtree drove him home with a sacrifice fly.
However, the tie ballgame did not last for long as McVaney launched a solo home run – his second of the season – to start the second. Texas State then made it 3-1 with the help of the SFA defense has Bret Atwood led off with a sure single to right field, but Coffman let it go under his glove all the way to the fence which allowed Atwood to get to third. Kyle Livingstone then scored the unearned run with a weak grounder to third, and the run remained unearned after Herriage coaxed a pair of lazy flies to end the inning.
SFA cut the lead to 3-2 in the sixth when Huble delivered an RBI single that scored Scarafiotti from second, but Texas State immediately answered with a run of their own in the top of the seventh. Sibley led off with a walk and moved up on a sacrifice bunt before the ‘Jacks called on Cory Ochs out of the bullpen. Then, with two away, Sibley broke from second in a steal attempt of third and Ochs looked to have had him caught at third base, but an errant throw skipped away from Bobby Loveless and allowed Sibley to race in for a 4-2 Texas State lead.
But the ‘Jacks would threaten again loading the bases with nobody out on singles from Coffman and Jordan Lewis and an error by Kyle Kubitza in left field; however, that's when Carruth entered for the Bobcats and did his job. He coaxed a comebacker from Michael Haynes, followed by a foul out from Smith and a strikeout of Tanner Hines to keep the ‘Cats in front.
The teams will continue their series on Friday with the scheduled start time having been advanced from 2:00 p.m. to 12:00 p.m. to try and beat predicted inclement weather. Jared West is scheduled to go for SFA, opposite Michael Russo for Texas State.