After a mid-week, extra inning victory over Houston Baptist, the Texas State Bobcats remained at home to continue Southland Conference play for a pivotal series against the Southeastern Louisiana Lions. Southeastern came into town two games behind the Bobcats in the Southland Conference standings, and three spots behind in the Mid-Major Polls.
Before the first pitch on Friday, Carson Smith had not lost a start since his first on Feb. 23 (against Rice) and the Bobcats were 8-0 on Friday games in 2011. That all changed Friday night as the Bobcats were simply outplayed and overpowered 8-5, and in the process dropped, to 21-11 (11-5 SLC).
Runners left on base and the inability to hit with two outs was the Achilles heel for the most part for Texas State, as Lions starter Brandon Efferson got the win, only giving up one earned run through 6 1/3 innings, despite issuing six walks.
Both starters began on cruise control, as no runs were scored for either team through the first three innings. That abruptly changed in the fourth and fifth innings as the Lions got on the board with a run in the fourth and two in the fifth, sparked by an RBI double by clean up hitter Jonathon Pace, putting the Lions up 3-0. The Cats' finally got on the board in the sixth with an RBI single up the middle from sophomore catcher Andrew Stumph (with two outs), for a 3-1 game.
The game turned a bit sloppy in the top of the eighth, as the Lions first six batters reached on three singles, a throwing error, and two walks. They would put up a five spot, notching their lead to 8-1 and eventually putting the game out of reach. The Bobcats retaliated with a four-run frame of their own in the bottom of the inning, sparked by four straight singles, but Lion's closer Stefen Lopez came in with the bases loaded and retired two straight to end the threat for his eighth save of the season.
Carson Smith was credited with the loss, falling to (5-2) despite pitching well on Fridays this year. Smith went seven innings, with four strikeouts and three earned runs. Junior left fielder Jeff McVaney and Stumph each collected three hits and an RBI, but the Bobcats combined for eleven runners left on base, with more errors than the opposition for the fourth time in the last five games. The "E" column has been filling up lately, which is certainly uncharacteristic for Coach Harrington and his Bobcats.
Nonetheless, the Bobcats still find themselves atop the standings in the SLC (tied with SFA) and still a game up on SLU. Look for the Bobcats to come out with some extra incentive and a little fire in their eyes for the rest of the series, as Coach Harrington continues to climb toward his incredible milestone of 400 career wins. Game 2 is tomorrow at 2:00 p.m., as Mitchell Pitts and the Bobcats aim to give Lion starter Tyler Watkins (6-0) his first loss of the 2011 season.
Weston Warner, KTSW Sports
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