Lone Star Roundup: Week 6 Around Texas College Baseball

At this stage of the season, there really aren’t any uneventful weekends. However, with that being said, this weekend felt like a particularly weighty one in Texas college baseball. A couple of highly-ranked teams met stiff challenges, some teams that had been struggling got back on track, and there were some upsets as well.

Let’s take a spin around the week six action in the great state of Texas.

Photo courtesy Texas A&M Athletics

Photo courtesy Texas A&M Athletics

Texas A&M

We’ve been asking the question for several weeks now as the Aggies really began to pile up wins, and now we definitively have our answer. This Texas A&M team is for real and they showed that in capturing a series win over Alabama on the road. Yes, they did lose the finale of the series for their first loss of the season, but the positives from this series, their first road games of the season, far outweigh the negatives stemming from their first loss.

Friday night brought a 4-2 win for the Aggies, but beyond that, it brought a dominating performance from A&M starting pitcher Grayson Long. The big righty threw six innings, giving up three hits and one run with two walks and 14 strikeouts. At one point between the third and sixth innings, he struck out nine straight Crimson Tide hitters. After allowing an Alabama run in the third, he was on easy street the rest of the way. What made him so dominant in the game, his strikeouts, was also his undoing in the end, as his pitch count reached 115 after six, forcing his departure.

Bama’s Taylor Guilbeau was nearly Long’s equal. After walking four hitters in the first inning to force in a run, Guilbeau really settled in and cruised, allowing two hits and two runs with five walks and 11 strikeouts in 6.1 innings pitched. When he exited, the game was still tied at one, but the bullpen couldn’t hold it, as Ray Castillo surrendered three runs in the seventh. One came home on Blake Allemand sac fly and two others came home on a Ryne Birk double.

In game two, the first game of a doubleheader to finish off the series, it looked for all the world like the Aggies’ winning streak was going to be snapped. The Tide took a 5-3 lead into the top of the eighth inning, but the Aggies broke out in that frame. Blake Kopetsky and Hunter Melton began the inning with walks. After they were advanced on a sac bunt by G.R. Hinsley, Blake Allemand was hit by a pitch to load the bases. The next four hitters went as follows: Ryne Birk RBI single, Mitchell Nau RBI single, Nick Banks RBI walk, Logan Taylor RBI fielder’s choice. Before you knew it, A&M had taken a 7-5 lead. Not content with just a two-run lead, the Aggies plated three more in the ninth to push the lead to 10-5, which would also be the final score.

Neither starting pitcher had the best of days. Alabama’s Will Carter threw 5.2 innings, giving up eight hits and three runs, all the while walking three and striking out none. A&M’s Matt Kent wasn’t any better. He threw four innings, giving up six hits and four runs (three earned) with one walk and one strikeout. Kudos are due, however, for Aggie reliever Kyle Simonds, who gave up two hits and one unearned run with no walks and four strikeouts over five innings to save the rest of the bullpen. Nau had the biggest day on offense for the Aggies, going 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI.

In the second half of the doubleheader, the Aggies’ long winning streak ended at 24, as they dropped the game to the Tide 6-2.

Alabama came out on fire in this one against A&M freshman starting pitcher Turner Larkins. They plated four runs off of him in the first inning, forcing his removal after just two-thirds of an inning. The big hit in the inning came on a two-RBI triple off the bat of Bama first baseman Chance Vincent.

On the flip side, the Aggies never really could get much of anything going against Alabama starting pitcher Geoffrey Bramblett. He allowed single runs to A&M in the second and third, but he settled in nicely through the middle innings. All told, he threw seven innings, giving up seven hits and two runs (one earned) with three walks and three strikeouts. The big days from Vincent and Chandler Avant, who went 3-for-5, are huge positives for Bama, as both had come into the day hitting below .250 on the season.

After another road game, in the midweek against UTSA, the Aggies will return home next weekend to take on the suddenly piping-hot Missouri Tigers.

NCAA Regional - Fort WorthTCU

The Horned Frogs welcomed Oklahoma State into Lupton Stadium for a marquee Big 12 series. The Cowboys came into the series hot, having won six in a row after their stumble in a series loss to Illinois a few weeks back. And in the series opener on Friday night, OSU continued their winning ways by pulling off a 7-6 victory.

The late innings in this one were a roller coaster ride. Going into the top of the eighth, the teams were tied at five. In that frame, the Cowboys plated the go-ahead run on a Jacob Chappell single that scored Corey Hassel, who had advanced into scoring position on a passed ball. In order to maximize the drama, TCU waited until the bottom of the ninth to tie the game back up at six, when they did so on a Cody Jones triple that scored Jeremie Fagnan. The bats were quiet until the top of the 12th, when OSU’s Dustin Williams cranked a clutch home run to put his team up for good.

Oklahoma State starting pitcher Jon Perrin was very good, at times showing dominant stuff, but he didn’t get a ton of help from his defense. He threw 6.2 innings, giving up six hits and five runs (two earned) with three walks and nine strikeouts. The bullpen turned in good work as well, as Trey Cobb, Garrett Williams, and Koda Glover threw 5.1 innings of three-hit, one-run ball. For TCU, Cody Jones enjoyed a big game, going 2-for-5 with three RBI. Connor Wanhanen was 3-for-4 with two runs scored.

On Saturday, behind Preston Morrison, the Frogs bounced back and captured a 7-4 win over the Cowboys. The veteran wasn’t dominating by any stretch of the imagination, but he gave a gritty performance. He threw 7.2 innings, giving up six hits and four runs (three earned) with three walks and nine strikeouts on 115 pitches. The win took him to 5-0 on the season and gave him 30 wins for his TCU career.

The Frogs’ offense chased OSU starter Tyler Buffett after plating three runs off of him in two innings, and Morrison was able to keep the Cowboys at arm’s length from that point forward. Connor Wanhanen had a big day for TCU, going 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored. While the OSU offense never really got any extended rallies going, they did get a two-run homer from first baseman Dustin Williams, his fourth of the season and second in the series.

Not satisfied with just the single win in the series, the Cowboys came out on Sunday and took it to the Horned Frogs in a 7-2 win. The OSU offense scored six runs in the third inning, chasing TCU starter Alex Young from the game. That outburst was already more than enough, as Michael Freeman was nails in his complete game effort, giving up six hits and two runs (one earned) with one walk and nine strikeouts.

This is a strange series loss for TCU, as they had been humming along nicely prior to this series. With that being said, it shouldn’t cause for too much alarm, as it was a hotly-contested series, and Oklahoma State is a quality club that has been playing well of late. It’s a disappointing series loss for the Frogs, but it’s far from a bad loss.

Photo Rice Athletics

Photo Rice Athletics

Rice

After starting off Conference USA play 6-0 with sweeps of Charlotte and Louisiana Tech, the Owls hit a speed bump over the weekend, losing their series on the road to Old Dominion.

Friday’s 12-4 loss was incredibly out of character for Rice. Starting pitcher Kevin McCanna got dinged to the tune of eight hits and four runs in 2.1 innings and Ricardo Salinas, who relieved McCanna, got tagged with four hits and four runs (three earned) in three innings of work. The Owls also had no trouble making good contact. They pounded out 13 hits against ODU pitching, including eight against starter Greg Tomchick in 5.2 innings, but they were only able to convert all those hits into four runs.

For the Monarchs, leadoff hitter P.J. Higgins was a thorn in the side of Rice pitching. He went 3-for-6 with two RBI and two runs scored. Ninth-place hitter Nick Walker was also pesky. He was 1-for-2, but he also drew three walks. Every Owls starter had at least one hit, and DH Kirby Taylor went 3-for-4 on the day to lead the attack.

Saturday’s game brought another loss, this time by a 9-8 score. The Owls jumped out to a sizable lead in this one, as they were up 5-1 going to the bottom of the fourth. But in that fateful fourth inning, defense bit Rice as it has on several other occasions this season. Mike Perez got the scoring started in the inning with a two-run homer to pull ODU within two at 5-3, but, later in the inning, shortstop Leon Byrd, third baseman Tristan Gray, and second baseman Ford Stainback each committed errors, leading to four more ODU runs. The back-breaking blow came on a Taylor Ostrich three-run double. When the dust settled, the Monarchs had scored six runs to take a 7-5 lead.

Rice scored single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to tie the game at seven, but defense did them in once again in the sixth, as ODU plated two unearned runs, in part thanks to a Ford Stainback error and a Matt Ditman wild pitch. The Owls pulled within one in the top of the ninth on a Kirby Taylor RBI single, but that’s all they could muster.

In the finale on Sunday, the Owls salvaged a game with a 5-4 win. The offense got to ODU starter Nick Hartman early and often, scoring four runs off of him in five innings. Leon Byrd had a two-run double in the third inning and Ryan Chandler added a two-run triple in the fourth to give the Owls a 4-0 lead. The Monarchs rallied to score two in the fourth and two in the sixth to tie the game, but Tristan Gray doubled home a run in the top of the eighth to put the Owls back ahead for good. Matt Ditman was outstanding over the last two innings for the save, allowing two hits and no runs with three strikeouts.

Rice will need to get back up on the horse quickly, as they have a busy week ahead. After a home and away two-game set with Sam Houston State in the midweek, they host Southern Miss in Conference USA play this coming weekend.

Eric Gutierrez Photo courtesy Texas Tech Athletics

Eric Gutierrez Photo courtesy Texas Tech Athletics

Texas Tech

The Red Raiders came into their series against Oklahoma looking to continue the momentum they built with a road series win against San Diego State two weekends ago. Instead, they will come away with a series loss in their first Big 12 action of the season.

In the series opener, Texas Tech starting pitcher Ryan Moseley threw a gem to lead his team to a 6-1 victory. All told, the righty from Lubbock threw seven innings, giving up three hits and one unearned run with two walks and six strikeouts. And with just 93 pitches, he was pretty efficient as well. In relief, Corey Taylor threw two perfect innings to close it out.

It took the Red Raider offense some time to figure out Oklahoma starter Jake Elliott, but they managed to plate three runs off of him in his six innings of work, which turned out to be more than enough with Moseley cruising like he was. Leadoff hitter Cory Raley led the way in more ways than one, as he went 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored.

On Saturday, the Sooners fought back with a 5-2 win to even the series. After Moseley’s sparkling start the day before, it was OU starter Alec Hansen’s turn to come up with a dominant performance. He threw a complete game, giving up three hits and two runs with three walks and 10 strikeouts. If there was one blip in Hansen’s performance, it was his fifth inning. In that frame, he gave up two of the three hits he allowed and both of the runs. Worse yet, both runs scored on wild pitches.

Undeterred, though, the Sooners rallied back for three runs in the bottom half of the fifth against Cameron Smith on Kolbey Carpenter’s fifth homer of the season, a three-run shot. All told, Carpenter had a banner day, going 4-for-4 with those three RBI and two runs scored.

In the finale, which turned out to be the tightest game of the set, the Sooners clinched the series victory with a 3-2 win. Tech starter Dominic Moreno wasn’t all that bad (5 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K), but single OU runs in the first, third, and fifth were enough to get the job done. Taylor Alspaugh did much of the damage for the Oklahoma attack, going 4-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.

On the mound for the Sooners, starter Adam Choplick lasted just four batters, giving up two hits and two walks, but Robert Tasin was outstanding in relief, throwing 5.1 innings, giving up two hits and no runs with two walks and six strikeouts to earn the win. It wasn’t a banner day for the Texas Tech offense, but much of the offense provided came from Stephen Smith, who was 2-for-3 with two walks.

Texas Baseball

Photo Texas Sports Info

Texas

Two weekends ago, the Longhorns survived a hard-fought series against West Virginia. It wasn’t always pretty, but they got the job done. It was the same story this past weekend when Texas hosted Kansas State. On paper, it should have been no contest, but the Wildcats came ready to play and gave UT a relatively tough test.

After rain pushed the series opener back to Saturday, the Longhorns got things started with a 5-3 win. Heading to the bottom of the eighth, the Wildcats held a 3-2 lead. The Texas defense had been charitable, gifting KSU two of their three runs. In the bottom of the eighth, though, the offense made up for it, scoring three runs. Michael Cantu had an RBI double, the second run of the inning scored on a Kacy Clemens single and an error out in right field, and the final run of the frame came home on a Collin Shaw single.

As usual, Parker French turned in a solid start and gave his team a chance to win. He threw six innings, giving up seven hits and three runs (one earned) with two walks and four strikeouts.

The second game of the doubleheader, a 3-1 Texas win, was more routine, and if you blinked, you were liable to miss the game altogether. UT’s Chad Hollingsworth was outstanding (7.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K) and reliever Kirby Bellow threw 1.2 innings of perfect relief. The Texas offense wasn’t explosive, but they didn’t have to be with Hollingsworth on cruise control. They plated single runs in the first, third, and fifth against KSU starter Colton Kalmus. Brooks Marlow and Ben Johnson both had two-hit games.

Sunday’s finale, a 6-1 Texas win, was pretty similar to Saturday’s game two. With the game tied at one, the Longhorns put together a three-run fifth inning, highlighted by a Ben Johnson RBI double and a Collin Shaw two-run homer, to break the game open. The KSU offense just never was able to get anything going against Kacy Clemens (5 IP, 2 H, 1 R), Travis Duke (1.1, 0 H, 0 R), and Connor Mayes (2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R).

The degree of difficulty for the Longhorns is going to ramp up considerably in the next couple of weeks. Next weekend, they take on former Big 12 foe Nebraska on the road before returning to Big 12 play against Oklahoma State and Oklahoma in consecutive weekends.

Photo Courtesy University of Houston AthleticsHouston

It would appear that the Cougars have overcome whatever ailed them a couple of weeks ago, as they swept a road series against New Mexico over the weekend to extend their current winning streak to nine games.

It speaks to how good Andrew Lantrip has been on Friday nights for Houston that his performance against New Mexico (6.1 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 3 K) feels underwhelming. But he hung in there, battled hard, and stayed in the game long enough to earn the win after his team regained the lead from the Lobos and took home a 6-5 victory.

The big inning for the Cougars was the seventh, when they plated three runs, two charged to UNM starter Toller Boardman and one off of reliever Taylor Duree. After the first run in the inning scored on a Boardman throwing error, Ashford Fulmer dealt the big blow, a two-run triple to put his team up 5-3. In the eighth, UH scored another run, this time on a Chris Iriart homer. As it turns out, they would need that extra run, as the Lobos scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth before ultimately falling just short. The top of the lineup did a lot of the damage for Houston, as Kyle Survance, Josh Vidales, and Chris Iriart went a combined 7-for-15. Fulmer’s 2-for-4 day has to be a highlight for the Cougars as well, considering that he has been mired in a horrific slump all season long.

On Saturday, the Cougars clinched the series victory with another 6-5 win. Kyle Dowdy, starting in place of the injured Jake Lemoine, did an admirable job. He threw 6.2 innings, giving up five hits and three runs with two walks and three strikeouts. The Houston offensive attack didn’t have a big inning or do anything all that explosive, but they were persistent, scoring runs in four different frames, and against three of the four pitchers UNM put on the mound.

The top three in the UH lineup again led the way, accounted for four of the team’s seven hits and four of the team’s six RBI.

Sunday’s 8-7 win wasn’t all that pretty, but a win is a win. The Cougars were leading 5-1 after their turn at bat in the third, but the Lobos just continued to chip away, and eventually, the teams headed into the ninth inning locked in a 7-7 tie. In the ninth, Houston pushed across the eventual winning run on a Chris Iriart sacrifice fly. Iriart was 1-for-2 in the game with a home run and two walks. Freshman shortstop Connor Wong was 2-for-3 with a triple and a home run.

Things don’t get easier from here for Houston, as they will hit the road again this coming weekend to take on UCF in what is predicted to be the marquee American Athletic Conference series of the entire season.

Photo Baylor Athletics

Photo Baylor Athletics

Baylor

The Bears came into their series against West Virginia in desperate need of a series victory and they got one, scoring a 5-4 win on Friday and a 10-4 win on Saturday before dropping the finale 8-2.

In the opener, the Bears jumped on WVU starter Conner Dotson for four runs in his first two innings of work. With the way the Baylor offense has struggled in recent weeks, that early lead had to be a boost for the team. Starting pitcher Daniel Castano took that lead and ran with it, allowing just one run in his first five innings, as the Bears stretched the lead to 4-1. In the sixth, though, he hit a little trouble when four Mountaineer hits and an error on Justin Arrington led to three runs, tying the game. The tie was short-lived, however, as the West Virginia defense gave the run (the eventual winning run, mind you) right back thanks to a Jackson Cramer error.

Saturday’s win over the Mountaineers was the first time all season that the Bears have scored double-digit runs in a game. Eight of those runs came in the first three innings of the game, all off of West Virginia starter Ross Vance. Early in the game, those runs were needed, as Baylor starter Austin Stone didn’t have the best start, either. He was chased after just two-thirds of an inning, having given up two runs, largely thanks to four walks. The relief trio of Kody Hessemer (4.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 K), Troy Montemayor (2.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 K), and Brad Kuntz (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K) settled things down, though, and helped the team to a relatively stress-free victory.

Offensively, there are plenty of accolades to go around. Mitch Price went 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored. Jonathan Ducoff was 2-for-4 with an RBI and three run scored. Joe Sabatini was 2-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored, and Kameron Esthay was 3-for-3 with two RBI.

On Sunday, the Mountaineers got to Baylor starter Drew Tolson, tagging him for seven hits and six runs (five earned) in his 5.1 innings of work. Kyle Davis and Ray Guerrini had particularly good days, driving in three runs apiece. Meanwhile, the Baylor offense really struggled to get anything going off of WVU starter Chad Donato, who threw eight innings, giving up just five hits and two runs.

Coming off this series win, the Bears will try to keep momentum going in their midweek game against UT-Arlington and then in their upcoming Big 12 set with Oklahoma next weekend.

Dallas Baptist

The Patriots just keep rolling, as they won their Missouri Valley Conference-opening series on the road at Evansville.

Friday’s game, a 10-6 DBU win, was one of the stranger games you’ll ever see. Going into the seventh inning, we had a nice pitcher’s duel going, as DBU’s Joseph Shaw and Evansville’s Connor Strain had allowed one and two runs, respectively. But that’s precisely when things got weird. In the top of the seventh, the Patriots plated three more runs thanks to a Drew Turbin three-run homer off of Strain, chasing the Aces’ starter from the game. In the eighth, they scored four more runs thanks to five hits and a walk off of Evansville reliever James Ward.

When they plated a single run in the top of the ninth to go up 10-1, it looked like the rout was officially on. But suddenly, the Evansville bats woke up. The Aces scored five runs in the frame, all officially going on DBU reliever Dalton Higgins’ ledger, forcing the Patriots to use three pitchers in that inning, including closer Brandon Koch.

The second game, a 10-2 DBU win, was kind of the inverse of the first game. The Patriots scored seven runs in the first two innings off the Evansville duo of Patrick Schnieders and Matthew Rodgers. The Aces’ pitching staff largely settled things down after that point, only allowing single runs in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings, but the damage had been done. Justin Wall was the offensive star for DBU, going 4-for-4 with a home run, a walk, four RBI, and two runs scored. Both Drew Turbin and Camden Duzenack, the top two hitters in the order, scored three runs.

The Patriots weren’t able to pull off the sweep, however, as Evansville claimed a 3-1 win on Sunday. Evansville’s Brodie Harkness was magnificent in this one, throwing eight innings, giving up four hits and one unearned run with one walk and five strikeouts. The Aces only had five hits themselves, with two of those coming from Kevin Kaczmarski, who also had a walk and two RBI.

UT- Arlington

The Mavericks had a successful weekend out on the west coast that included a marquee win on Friday night over UC-Santa Barbara and their ace, Dillon Tate. In that 7-5 win, they scored four runs on five hits against Tate in his 6.2 innings of work.

The big inning was the UTA seventh. The Mavericks scored five runs in the inning, going from 3-2 down to 7-3 up. The big hit in that frame was a Travis Sibley three-RBI double. UTA starter Chad Nack didn’t have his best day, but he was good enough to keep his team in the game (5.1 IP, 8 H, 3 R). Jackson Morris had a huge game for the Mavs, going 4-for-4 with four RBI.

On Saturday, the Gauchos bounced back with a hard-fought 2-1 win in 11 innings. UCSB starter Justin Jacome was outstanding, throwing eight innings, giving up eight hits and one run with one walk and seven strikeouts. Robby Nesovic did a little bit of everything for UCSB. On the mound, he threw three nearly-perfect innings of relief, earning the win, and at the plate, he drove in both of his team’s runs, including the winning run in the 11th on a single.

On Sunday, they just squeaked by Dartmouth 3-2. Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh, the Mavericks plated two runs, one on a Travis Sibley single and the other on a double by Levi Scott. Sibley had a big day overall once again, going 3-for-4. The winning pitcher for UTA was Daniel James, who was masterful in relief, throwing three innings, giving up just three hits and no runs in three innings of work.

Sam Houston State

The Bearkats are still really struggling to find consistency on a week-in, week-out basis, but they took a step in the right direction over the weekend in winning their Southland Conference series against Nicholls State.

Because of impending weather later in the weekend, the series began with a doubleheader on Friday afternoon. In game one of the double dip, SHSU came away with a 2-1 win. Both starters, Nicholls State’s Grant Borne (8.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 6 BB, 7 K) and SHSU’s Andrew Godail (7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 5 K), were outstanding, with the former doing an admirable job of wiggling out of the trouble that those six walks put him in throughout the game. In the bottom of the ninth, NSU was done in by their defense, as a Miles Manning single scored Wyatt Powell, who had gone first to third on a prior single thanks to an error by Justin Holt in center field.

In game two, the Bearkats scored six total runs across the first two innings, and that’s all that they would need in a 6-1 win. Logan Boyd bested Godail’s performance from earlier in the day, throwing eight innings, giving up six hits and one unearned run with two walks and five strikeouts.

SHSU wasn’t able to sweep, though, as Nicholls State battled back on Sunday to win the finale 4-3. Ultimately, the four runs the Colonels scored off of SHSU starting pitcher Ryan Brinley in just two-thirds of an inning was all they would need. Hayden Nixon was untouchable in relief of Brinley (8.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K), but the Bearkat offense wasn’t able to do anything more than score the three runs they scored in the third off of NSU starter Justin Sinibaldi.

Other Results

UTSA dropped the first two games of their Conference USA series against Western Kentucky 5-4 and 8-2, before salvaging the finale 12-0.

Texas State lost the first two legs of their Sun Belt series with South Alabama by scores of 7-1 and 2-1, before winning game three 8-7.

Abilene Christian won their Southland Conference series with McNeese State, taking game one 5-0 and then game three 3-0 after dropping the second game 5-4.

Stephen F. Austin split two games with conference foe Northwestern State, a 5-3 win and a 6-3 loss, before the final game was cancelled due to poor field conditions.

Texas Southern swept their road SWAC series with Southern by scores of 7-3, 4-1, and 8-4.

Texas A&M- Corpus Christi were swept by Southeastern Louisiana by scores of 6-4, 7-4, and 8-3.

Lamar swept their conference series with New Orleans thanks to 8-1, 5-4, and 17-2 wins.

Houston Baptist swept Central Arkansas with 10-1, 9-2, and 2-1 wins.

Incarnate Word swept their rain-shortened series against Prairie View A&M by scores of 2-0 and 11-0.

 

About the Author

Joseph Healy
Growing up in Houston, Joe Healy was introduced to college baseball at a young age, and it was love at first sight. Like most good love stories, that love has only grown throughout the years. When he's not at the ballpark, he enjoys tacos, college football during the fall, and the spectacle that is American politics. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from Sam Houston State University and a Master's in Public Administration from Southern Illinois University- Edwardsville.