SAN MARCOS, Texas - The No. 3 seeded Texas State Bobcats pounced on No. 6 Stephen F. Austin for seven runs in the first two innings and Southland Conference Pitcher of Year Travis Ballew fanned five hitters in seven innings of work as the `Cats cruised to an 11-1, run-rule win in the first round of the Southland Conference Tournament Wednesday at Bobcat Ballpark.
With the loss the `Jacks (23-32) will face the loser of the final game of the first day between No. 2 Southeastern Louisiana and No. 7 Central Arkansas at 12:00 p.m. on Thursday. The loser will be eliminated from the tournament, while the winner will advance to the event's semifinals.
Hunter Dozier and Rene' Moreda each had a pair of hits for SFA, with Moreda collecting the game's lone RBI. Starter Chase Greening was tagged with the loss, falling to 5-7 on the year after allowing six runs - five earned - in just over an inning of work.
Meanwhile, Ballew had to work out of jams in the first three innings before settling in for his seven innings, running his record to a sturdy 11-4 mark. Morgan Mickan and Jeff McVaney led the Texas State offense with Mickan finishing 3-for-5 with four runs scored - including the game-winning run in the seventh - and McVaney reaching on four of his five at-bats and finishing with a pair of runs scored and an RBI.
It did not take long for the Bobcats (32-22) to stake themselves to a 3-0 lead, getting all their runs with two outs and beginning with a two-run homer from Casey Kalenkosky after a walk to Jeff McVaney. Another walk was followed by an RBI single from Brooks Orton.
The `Jacks got one back in the top of the second on a bases-loaded single from Rene' Moreda, but saw the rally quickly come to an end on the same play when Ricardo Sanchez was thrown out at home trying to score from second by McVaney. But Texas State immediately answered, loading the on two singles and a walk before Greening let in a run on a wild pitch, prompting the `Jacks to go get Fabian Arcizo from the bullpen.
Texas State added another run on a double play in the inning and then held onto their 7-1 lead through the third when Ballew worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out situation by getting Chris Hernandez to ground into a double play on the first pitch. Arcizo then proceeded to get the first out of the bottom half of the inning before allowing consecutive doubles to Morgan Mickan and McVaney to push the lead to 8-1.
The Bobcats then added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth after SFA could not muster any scores off a pair of hits in the top of the inning. Colby Targun provided the big hit of the inning, chopping a bases-loaded single over the first-base bag to score a pair of runs. Two innings later Texas State closed out the game with Mickan scoring from third on a passed ball after reaching third on a triple with one out in the inning.