College Baseball: Bobcats can't slide past Rice
Texas State sophomore outfielder Cody Lovejoy ripped a ball in the hole between second base and third base late in Tuesday’s 5-4 loss to Rice.
Lovejoy put the ball just far enough out of Owl shortstop Ford Stainback’s reach to where Rice third baseman Shane Hoelscher would have to make a tremendous play to keep every bit of energy in his team’s dugout — and the Bobcats from tying the game, since J.D. Stinnett stood 90 feet from home. Hoelscher extended to nab the grounder, stood up, set his feet and fired a laser to nab Lovejoy and end the fifth inning.
That was just one of many plays Hoelscher made Tuesday night at Bobcat Ballpark that kept Texas State (25-27) at bay. Unlike Hoelscher, the Bobcats failed to keep the ball in front of them as they committed six errors.
“Defense is the momentum,” Texas State head coach Ty Harrington said. “If you play great defense, you don’t have letdowns where everybody says, ‘Oh, they should have been out.’ Defense is where the momentum is — and we haven’t done that recently. We played one of the worst games in the history of his program on Sunday (defensively) and did a poor job again tonight.”
Tuesday’s loss was the Bobcats’ third consecutive setback and shoddy defense has been the culprit in each game. Texas State flubbed 14 plays in the last three games, including five in Sunday’s 10-2 loss to UT Arlington and three errors by senior outfielder Kevin Sah last Saturday.
“We’re just not getting it done,” Bobcat third baseman Nick Smelser said. “We’re not making the plays we should make and that about covers it.”
Even though Texas State kicked the ball around against the 20th-ranked Owls (34-17), Harrington’s bunch kept it close thanks to some clutch hitting.
Rice took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning, then the Bobcats tied it up with three in the fourth behind a pair of two-out singles by freshman outfielder Cody Geisler and Smelser, who knocked in two after Geisler plated Andrew Stumph.
“Our crowd definitely helped it,” said Geisler, who went 2 for 4. “When Smelly got the hit to score me and Mattlage, that’s when we got a lot of momentum and felt like we could put it away, but things didn’t go our way.”
Two more errors spelled doom for Texas State in the top of the eighth, the second of which allowed the Owls to score their fifth run and gave them just enough breathing room to withstand the Bobcats’ small ninth-inning rally.
“I’m frustrated for them,” Harrington said. “I’m the guy that’s in charge of the defense and apparently I haven’t been able to get through to them yet, but we’re going back to work.”