TXST Routes UTA, 10-2

The Bobcats used a complete game pitching performance and hot bats to easily route UTA on Thursday evening, 10-2. The win moves the Bobcats one step closer to playing for an SBC Tournament chamiponship.

(Courtesy of Texas State Athleitcs)

Troy, Ala. – Senior first baseman David Paiz kept knocking RBI, and senior pitcher Scott Grist kept pitching innings to lead the Bobcats to an impressive 10-2 victory over No. 7 seed UT Arlington Thursday night. With the win, Texas State becomes one of just two undefeated teams in the Sun Belt Conference Championship Tournament in Troy, Ala. The Bobcats will get Friday off and return to action at 12:30 p.m. Saturday to face the winner between UT Arlington and No. 3 UL Lafayette, two teams the Bobcats have already beat this tournament, for the right to play in the SBC Tournament Championship game.

Texas State was first to score in the game and went up, 5-0, in the third inning. The Mavericks, though, fought back to within three runs with a run in both the fourth and fifth innings to try to steal the momentum back. The resilient Bobcats wouldn’t let that happen, though, scoring five runs in the final three innings to secure the win and a spot in the tournament’s final four.

Grist pitched his second consecutive complete game against UT Arlington after holding the Mavericks to just five hits and one run last Friday. He struck out three, two of which came in big two-out situations for Texas State to close out innings. Most importantly, Grist was able to keep the Bobcats from using their bullpen, saving arms for the tournament.

The senior pitcher benefitted from strong defense behind him and another outstanding offensive performance from the Bobcat bats. Paiz finished with five RBI on a 2-for-3 night with a walk, two runs scored and his second home run of the tournament. He easily leads all Sun Belt players in RBI at the tournament with 11 RBI in two games, just two shy of the SBC Tournament record set in 2010.

He wasn’t the only Bobcat to swing the bat well Thursday night. Ben McElroy started the game 3-for-3 and earned an intentional walk, scoring twice in the game. One of his two doubles went off the top of the 30-foot wall in right field, robbing him of his third home run in four games. Cory Geisler, Cedric Vallieres and Luke Sherley each added two hits apiece with Geisler adding another Bobcat homer for two RBI.

Paiz’s hot bat struck first in the second inning. McElroy knocked the first hit of the game for Texas State and Paiz followed with a deep shot to left centerfield to drive in McElroy and put the Bobcats up, 1-0. His second triple of the season led to his seventh RBI of the Sun Belt Conference Championship Tournament.

Geisler, the leadoff batter, kept the momentum for Texas State in the top of the third inning. Sherley led off the inning with a base hit to right field. After that, Geisler sent out a no-doubter to left field for his sixth home run of the season to push Texas State’s lead to 3-0.

The Bobcats kept the pressure on throughout the inning. Vallieres followed Geisler’s homer with a double to left centerfield and went to third on a groundout. Tanner Hill brought him in with a single to right field for his team-high 44th RBI of the season.

After that, McElroy knocked a double off the highest part of the wall to put two runners in scoring position for Paiz, the team’s and conference’s leading RBI-hitter in the tournament. He came through yet again with a sacrifice fly to plate Hill and give the Bobcats a commanding 5-0 lead.

In the bottom of the fourth, UT Arlington answered with the team’s first run of the game. The Mavericks were able to load the bases on three hits and a fielder’s choice, then plated a run on a sacrifice fly to make it 5-1 in favor of Texas State.

The Mavericks fought off a Texas State threat in the top of the fifth and came back to score in the bottom of the inning. Former Texas State great Tyler Sibley’s little brother, Travis, hit a solo home run to left field to pull UTA within three runs, 5-2. That would be as close as the Mavericks would get.

After showing off the team’s impressive bats, the Bobcats displayed some great defensive work in the bottom of the sixth to keep it a three-run game. Freshman Mickey Scott charged a slow roller to make an impressive play for the first out of the inning. Paiz picked up his third unassisted putout of the game on the next grounder, then Sherley followed with a diving stop on the next grounder for the third out of the inning.

Paiz kept his outstanding tournament rolling with a three-run homer in the top of the seventh for his ninth, 10th and 11th RBI of the tournament, pushing his game total to five RBI. Granger Studdard led off the inning by reaching on an error, and UT Arlington intentionally walked McElroy. With both runners on, Paiz took advantage of the opportunity to rack up a few more RBI for the senior.

Geisler and Vallieres added another run in the eighth inning of Thursday night’s offensive showcase. Geisler hit a one-out double to right centerfield, and Vallieres brought him in with a first-pitch swing. He knocked a double to left field to put the Bobcats up, 9-2.

In the ninth, Paiz earned a walk and went to second base on a hit by pitch for Scott. Sherley picked up his first RBI of the tournament with a base knock to right field to bring in Paiz for his second run of the game and a 10-2 lead.

The Bobcats plan to rest, recuperate and enjoy Friday off while No. 3 UL Lafayette and No. 7 UT Arlington play for the right to face Texas State on Saturday. The Bobcats will face the winner of that game at 12:30 p.m. Saturday for the right to go to the SBC Tournament Championship.

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