When Texas State head coach Ty Harrington put the ball in sophomore Taylor Black’s hand two weeks ago against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, with it came the expectations laid upon a series-opening starting pitcher.
“You set the tone for what’s going to happen throughout the weekend,” Black said after Thursday night’s 4-2 win over Western Athletic Conference foe Seattle University. “The past two starts, I’ve been struggling; but Scott Grist stepped up to do what he needed to do to set the tone for the next game.”
What happened to Black in the game with the Islanders and last week against New Mexico State can’t be classified as “struggling.” Medieval torture is a better word.
Black, who bounced junior Kyle Finnegan from that role, took a merciless beating in his last two starts.
Back on March 15, A&M-CC pounded Black for 13 runs (seven earned) on 10 hits. Then the Aggies chased Black after he allowed five runs (four earned) in 3 1/3 innings of work.
“It was a big slap in the face,” Black said. “It hasn’t happened in a long time and made me want to go out there, work harder in bullpens to get my ball down and let it do what it does.”
Black’s dedication to his practice session Tuesday afternoon before the team left for Austin paid off two days later.
Outside of a shaky start in which he allowed a leadoff double, Black settled in soon after. That runner got to third, but no further and Black held Seattle U
scoreless until the fifth inning.
“It can get away from you emotionally at that point, but I thought Taylor did a great job of settling back in,” Texas State head coach Ty Harrington said. “Through the stretch innings, he was really good.”
A major difference between Black’s previous starts and this one was the fact that the Bobcats’ offense held up its end of the bargain. Texas State (10-15, 3-1 WAC) was outscored 35-13 by the Islanders and NM State.
After falling behind Thursday by a score of 1-0, the Bobcats answered with three runs in the fifth on three hits. Sophomore shortstop Garrett Mattlage knocked in the first run with an RBI triple, then sophomore first baseman Ben McElroy hammered a fly ball to the wall in right field that Redhawk outfielder Ryan Somers couldn’t handle.
Seattle U (10-14, 2-2 WAC) tallied a run in the sixth, but Texas State got enough breathing room on a solo home run by sophomore designated hitter Colby Targun.
“He was throwing fastballs and change-ups, so I was just trying to stay with my approach and hit something hard,” Targun said. “I got a high fastball and was able to hit it out.”
This was only the Bobcats’ second series-opening win of the season. Texas State can clinch its second consecutive series with a victory this afternoon.