April 3, 2010
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The bottom third of SFA's lineup combined for nine hits and six RBI and Jason West pitched a clutch final two innings for his fifth save of the year as the `Jacks held on for an 8-7 win over Texas State in the series finale on Saturday at Jaycees Field.
Texas State (17-9, 9-3, Southland) finished with 17 hits on the day, getting at least one hit in every frame, but the `Jacks (17-9, 7-4 Southland) offense finally came alive when it mattered and cashed in on its 13 hits, three of which were for extra bases.
Justin Braddock scattered 11 hits over 5.2 innings, allowing just four runs to earn his fourth win of the season. Cory Ochs and Jason West then carried the rest of the load, including West working out of a pair of jams in both the eighth and ninth innings for his fifth save, four of which have been multi-inning saves.
Lee Colon struggled with his command throughout the afternoon for Texas State and took his second loss of the season after allowing seven hits, five runs and five walks in just four innings.
But for SFA it was the unlikely trio of Justin McAninch, Riley Huble and Michael Haynes - the bottom third of the SFA lineup - that came up big for the `Jacks offense. Each had at least two hits and an RBI, including Huble's career day that included four hits, four RBI, a home run and throwing out three runners on steal attempts from behind the plate.
Tanner Hines picked up hits in his first two at-bats to extend his hit streak to a team-best 16 games, and Garrett Smith and Bobby Loveless each delivered hits as well to aide the SFA cause.
Texas State took advantage of three hits and a walk in the first inning to jump out to a 3-0 lead, including an RBI double from Kyle Kubitza that was the first of his four two-baggers on the day.
The `Jacks then answered in their half of the second inning as a Patrick Gratzke leadoff walk was followed two batters later by a bloop single from McAninch that set up Huble's early heroics as the junior catcher blasted the first pitch he saw from Colon over the left field fence for a three run homer.
But the lead did not last long as Kubitza struck again in the third, scorching a double into the gap that scored Jason Martinson all the way from first to give the `Cats the lead once again at 4-3.
One inning later Huble and Braddock teamed up to kill a Bobcat rally on a strikeout-throwout double play before SFA knotted it up again with a run in its half of the fourth. A single by Huble and a double from Haynes put runners in scoring position for Garrett Smith who delivered a single to right to get Haynes home to tie things at 4-4.
After Braddock and Huble repeated their double-play feat in the fifth, the `Jacks offense went to work once again off, driving Colon from the hill after another leadoff walk to Gratzke. A wild pitch put Gratzke in scoring position for McAninch, who delivered an RBI single and two batters later came home to score himself as Huble brought him in for his fourth RBI of the day.
In the top of the sixth it was Gratzke that took the early spotlight with the defensive highlight of the season for the `Jacks, robbing Jeff McVaney of his third leadoff home run of the series with a spectacular catch over the left-field fence that proved to be a critical save for the `Jacks.
SFA added a two-out run in the seventh as consecutive two-out hits from McAninch and Huble again set up Haynes, who shot a single up the middle for an RBI that pushed the lead to three runs at 7-4.
However, Texas State was not done and again it was Kubitza that started a rally with his third double of the game into the right field corner to lead off the eighth. Two batters later Andrew Stumph blooped a single into right field to drive him in and forced SFA to go back to West for the fourth consecutive day. The sophomore quickly went to work, striking out Shaun Garcia for the first out of the inning and nearly kept the `Cats scoreless when Clint Vest nearly hit into a double play; however, Vest beat the throw at first, allowing a run to come in that narrowed the gap to 7-6.
SFA then added what proved to be a huge insurance run in its half of the eighth as Loveless pinch hit to lead off the eighth and shot a double to right field. Two deep fly balls later, pinch runner Rene' Moreda slid across home to give the `Jacks a much more manageable two-run lead.
But the ninth was far from easy with Kyle Livingstone starting it off with a swinging bunt that ended in an infield hit that was followed two batters later by Kubitza's fourth double of the day that scored him all the way from first to tie it. West then got a big strikeout of McVaney before getting Jordan Kopycinski to ground to third and leave the tying run on base.
The `Jacks are next in action on Wednseday when they host UTPA in a doubleheader at Jaycees Field beginning at 1:00 p.m.