College Baseball: Texas State can't hold back UL Lafayette in 11-4 loss
From Staff Reports
MOBILE, Ala. — Texas State probably liked its chances for an upset when it chased UL Lafayette’s ace early.
The Bobcats, however, couldn’t stop the Ragin’ Cajuns, who burned lines on the base paths and fired on all cylinders offensively. UL Lafayette rolled to 11-4 victory in Thursday’s second round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament at Stanky Field in Mobile, Ala.
“They were very creative offensively,” Texas State head coach Ty Harrington said. “They ran on us. We got off to a good start and were feeling good about things. But, we weren’t able to control them offensively.”
Carson Baranik, the SBC’s pitcher of the year, didn’t make it out of the third inning. The Bobcats jumped on the board early with a first-inning run off Baranik. Garrett Mattlage made matters worse for UL Lafayette’s junior right-hander with a three-run towering shot, which gave the Bobcats a 4-3 lead in the third.
Just as the Ragin’ Cajuns did in the first inning, they answered back in the bottom of the third. In the frame, UL Lafayette wreaked havoc for starting pitcher Lucas Humpal and catcher Tyler Pearson.
The Ragin’ Cajuns used two RBI singles, a pair of stolen bases and a throwing error by Humpal — one of four errors in the game for Harrington’s team — to take a 5-4 lead in the third and never looked back.
Jace Conrad and Caleb Adams did most of the damage in Thursday’s game with two stolen bases each as UL Lafayette piled up eight steals. Conrad, the SBC’s player of the year, went 3 for 4 with a pair of RBI.
“That’s a big part of their offense,” Harrington said of the top seed’s stolen-base prowess. “We controlled them in Lafayette and knew it was going to be important today. But, we couldn’t contain them.”
For the first three innings of Thursday's tilt, Texas State went toe-to-toe with the No. 2 team in the country.
Unlike the rest of the SBC, the Bobcats have been a one-team wreaking crew for Baranik by scoring 10 runs on the right-hander in two games. Texas State pounced on Baranik in the first inning with singles from Cory Geisler, Mattlage and finally Austin O’Neal.
O’Neal’s base knock plated Geisler to give the Bobcats a 1-0 lead.
“We had good at-bats today,” Harrington said of his team’s 11-hit effort. “He (Baranik) elevated a few pitches and we were able to square them up and make things tough on him.”
Humpal wasn’t able to keep the momentum in Texas State’s favor, though. The sophomore quickly learned about the Ragin’ Cajuns base-stealing exploits as the No. 1 seed swiped four bags and plated three runs to seize a 3-1 advantage in the opening frame. Humpal surrendered a season-high seven runs.
“He was high in the zone today,” Harrington said of Humpal, who dropped to 4-6 on season. “The run game created some offense for them. I thought he grabbed some momentum early with a perfect second inning. They were just tough to beat today.”
Since Mattlage’s homer in the third, the Bobcats struggled to match UL Lafayette. The Ragin’ Cajun bullpen was to blame for that as four relievers, including eventual game-winning pitcher Matt Hicks, only allowed four hits and a walk during 6 2/3 scoreless innings.
Harrington’s team also stranded 11 and stuck out 13 times.
Now, Texas State (29-27) will face UL Monroe 3 p.m. Friday in an elimination game. Austen Williams, who picked up a win in the Bobcats’ 12-5 triumph over the Warhawks back on April 11, will take the mound.
• Joe Vozzelli