Texas State head coach Ty Harrington worried about his team’s focus as it went into Wednesday night’s game with Prairie View A&M.
Even though the Bobcats were 37-1 all-time against the Panthers and rarely had trouble with them, Harrington knew his team traditionally never played well immediately after finals ended. Harrington’s bunch couldn’t afford a momentum-killing loss this late in the season anyway, especially since it travels to Arlington this weekend for a huge series with former Southland Conference foe UT Arlington.
Given how Texas State performed in seven of the nine innings it played last night in a 13-7 win, Harrington shouldn’t have been too concerned. That being said, the Bobcats still left a lot to be desired — as the score indicates.
“There were times where we played well tonight,” Harrington said. “There were moments where it looked like we played like we’d been in finals.
“Our defensive efforts weren’t great tonight, but overall I’m pleased. We had some decent at-bats and hit some other balls hard. They did a great job of battling back.”
Texas State made it look easy through six innings as its offense beat up on Prairie View A&M’s weak pitchers (5.07 team ERA), while its own hurlers stymied the Panthers’ light-hitting offense (.263 team average).
By the start of the seventh, the Bobcats owned a 9-0 lead and Prairie View A&M only had one hit. Texas State jumped on the Panthers for three runs in the first on a pair of extra-base hits and senior outfielder Morgan Mickan launched his third home run of the season — and his second in three games — to cap a five-run fifth.
Less than two innings later, Prairie View A&M took advantage of several errors by the Bobcats and jumped all over junior pitchers Kyle Finnegan and Donnie Hart. Finnegan and Hart allowed a composite seven runs on five hits and walked three in two innings of work.
“Our defensive focus wasn’t as good as I would want, typically, late in the game,” Harrington said. “We had chances to get out of those innings and get Finny (Finnegan) and Donnie some confidence, but we also need them to get better too.”
Texas State bounced back, like it has done in recent games, with a crooked spot in the bottom of the eighth. Sophomore first baseman Ben McElroy delivered a two-run single and senior third baseman Nick Smelser followed with a two-run double.
Smelser found a recent groove, as he is 13 for 39 with a home run and nine RBI in his last 10 games. He went 3 for 5 with three RBI and two runs scored in Wednesday’s win.
“I found something that finally worked for me,” Smelser said. “I kind of got back to just playing the game — see ball, hit ball.”
With the win, the Bobcats’ record is now 24-24. Texas State is .500 for the first time since Feb. 16 when it was 1-1 after two games.