Tonight’s game in Austin featured more than the usual Battle of Interstate 35, as Texas State and Texas were both in need of a big win. Texas State, last year’s Southland Conference Champions, entered the game with a 5-5 record, while the No. 6 Longhorns were looking to add a win to their resume for hosting a regional.
The Bobcats ran 6’5” RHP Carson Smith (0-2) to the mound, a hard-throwing right hander from Grayson County College, while the Longhorns countered with a right handed sophomore of their own, Austin Dicharry (0-1).
The game started out as a battle of arms, as neither team scored a run in the first three frames. Texas State kicked off the scoring in the fourth. CF Bret Atwood led off the inning with a single before stealing second as 3B Kyle Kubitza struck out. 1B Kyle Livingstone followed with a single past Texas 3B Kevin Lusson, scoring Atwood and putting Texas State up 1-0. Livingstone stole second before SS Jason Martinson doubled to left center, increasing the Bobcat lead to 2-0.
Smith kept the Longhorns scoreless for 7.1 innings, allowing only three hits and walking one against seven strikeouts.
Kevin Keyes got things started for the Longhorns in the seventh off Smith, beating out his second infield hit of the night. Kyle Lusson, in Longhorn fashion, sacrificed Keyes to third before his younger brother laced a Smith pitch into the gap in left field, scoring Keyes and putting Texas on the board. Pinch hitter Paul Montalbano advanced the younger Lusson to third on an infield single before Jordan Etier’s squeeze attempt caused Texas State to tag Lusson out at home. Smith got out of the inning on the next batter, catching Tant Shepherd looking for his eighth strikeout of the game.
With a 2-1 lead going into the eighth, Bobcat DH Daniel Nuemann lead off the inning with a double over RF Keyes’ head, ending Dicharry’s night in favor of RHP Stayton Thomas. After a pair of groundouts, the last moving Nuemann to third, Texas brought in LHP Andrew McKirahan to get out of the inning. Unfortunately, Nuemann scored after C Cameron Rupp failed to hold onto McKirahan’s pitch, increasing the Texas State lead to 3-1.
Smith’s night ended after the eighth in favor of RHP Mitchell Pitts. Smith pitched seven innings, allowing five hits and a run. He walked one batter while striking out eight Longhorns en route to a no-decision
Pitts faced three Longhorns in the eighth, allowing a pair of singles past his right hip before forcing out pinch runner Tim Maitland at third on a sacrifice attempt by DH Russell Moldenhauer. Texas State head coach Ty Harrington made a call to the bullpen, bringing in RHP Garret Carruth to face Keyes. After a five-pitch walk to load the bases, the elder Lusson, Kyle, stepped to the plate. Lusson beat out a would-be double play, scoring Cameron Rupp from third to cut the lead to one. After Lusson the Younger walked to re-load the bases, Montalbano singled to center field, scoring pinch runner Jonathan Walsh and Lusson the Elder, giving the Longhorns their first lead of the night, 4-3.
With the lead, Texas went to their bullpen to bring in closer Chance Ruffin. The son of the legendary Bruce Ruffin retired Kubitza on a pop up to shallow left before walking Livingstone. SS Martinson struck out while LF Shaun Garcia grounded out to Ruffin to end the game.
McKirahan (1-0) picked up his first win on the season in relief, while Carruth (1-1) was saddled with his first loss. Ruffin picked up his fourth save in eight appearances.
Keyes and Montalbano paced the Longhorn offense with two hits each, Montalbano leading the way with a pair of RBI, the first of his career. Texas State split their five hits amongst a quintet of hitters. Livingstone was the only Bobcat with a run and an RBI.
Dicharry pitched seven innings, allowing five hits, three runs (two earned), with four strikeouts. Thomas and McKirahan combined for one inning of perfect baseball. Ruffin walked a batter and struck out another in finishing the ninth.
Pitts lasted 1/3 of an inning, allowing a pair of runs on two hits. Carruth didn’t last any longer, giving up a run on a hit and walking two. Jeff McVaney finished out the final out of the eighth inning, forcing Shepherd to ground out.
Texas moves to 9-3 on the year, while Texas State falls to 5-6 after starting the season with a three-game sweep of the Houston Cougars.