Texas State's hitters took a simplistic approach into Friday night’s game against Houston.
"Our hitting coach (Mike Silva) talked to us in the bullpen before the game and told us that we weren't going to change any mechanisms or anything," Bobcat sophomore designated hitter Cody Lovejoy said. "He wanted us to stand in there and take what he called, 'aggressive, plus swings.' He told us that until we had two strikes, we were going to see how hard we could hit the ball."
Lovejoy and his teammates responded favorably to Silva's request, providing junior pitcher Kyle Finnegan and two other hurlers more than enough breathing room. Texas State scored five runs in the first two innings en route to a 6-1 victory at Bobcat Ballpark.
"We went up there with a little bit better desire to hit than what we've done the last couple times," Texas State head coach Ty Harrington said. "It was good to see us get out early and be aggressive."
Given how the Bobcats (2-3) performed in Tuesday night's loss to Baylor, they had to change their method at the plate. Texas State left 14 men on base in a 6-3 defeat.
"We just had to pay more attention to detail on what we are trying to accomplish as an offense," Harrington said. "They understood that and came out ready to work."
Through the first two innings, the Bobcats looked as if they wanted to teach Cougar starting pitcher Matt Hernandez a lesson. Texas State tattooed nearly every strike Hernandez threw, chasing him after 1.1 innings.
Lovejoy, who increased his batting average to .429, led the Bobcats' charge. He knocked in the first run of the game with an RBI double and later stole home as part of a delayed double steal.
"Your odds go way up the harder you hit the ball," Lovejoy said. "You can hit ground balls all day to the right side, but unless you start hitting line drives, you won't get those doubles and score runs."
By the time Finnegan took the mound in the top of the third, Texas State spotted him a 5-1 lead.
Even though Finnegan battled control issues for the second consecutive game, Houston only got to him for one run. Finnegan walked four and threw two wild pitches, but struck out nine (five looking) and stranded six runners.
"Finnie pitched good enough," Harrington said. "Obviously his command wasn't what it could be or should be, but he made pitches when it mattered and that was impressive."
Once Finnegan left after throwing 107 pitches in five innings, Harrington turned to freshman Luke Humpal and sophomore Austen Williams. Humpal and Williams were up to the challenge, tossing four innings of one-hit ball.
The Bobcats and Cougars resume their three-game series Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.