By Steve Habel, Senior Editor
SAN MARCOS, Texas — The Texas baseball team has had its share of heartbreaking losses this season, but it would be hard to imagine any of them being more difficult to swallow than what happened Tuesday against Texas State.
Texas State’s Luke Sherley blooped a two-out single to shallow right field in the bottom of the 10th inning to drive home Ryan Newman from second base with the winning run in a 11-10 victory over the Longhorns at Bobcat Ballpark before a crowd of 3,017 — a new attendance record for the stadium.
In a game the Texas baseball team needed to win after losing three straight games at home to Texas Tech over the weekend, several of its key cogs misfired in the clutch.
The Longhorns led, 10-7, going into the bottom of the ninth and had closer Kyle Johnston on the mound to try to finish off Texas State. But the Bobcats would not quit, coming back to tie the game for the fourth time.
Johnston promptly loaded the bases with no outs before Sherley’s bouncer into the hole between first and second bounced off Kacy Clemens’ glove to send home two runs and cut the Longhorns’ lead to 10-9. Johnston then walked Travon Benton on four pitches to re-load the bases and was lifted in favor of Parker Joe Robinson.
A ground ball to third base provided a force out at home, and sacrifice fly to short center field by Jacob Almendarez brought home Sherley with a belly-flop slide and the tying run.
Sherley, the Bobcats’ junior heart and soul, fisted an inside pitch from Robinson in the 10th to win the game, setting off a wild celebration for the home crowd that rarely needs a reason to party.
The Longhorns (13-10) got a tie-breaking home run from Kody Clemens in the seventh inning and two insurance runs with round-tripper by Travis Jones in the eighth that, for a while, appeared to be enough to finally put away Texas State.
“It a frustrating loss for us because we were offensive today in a park and in a game that we needed to be,” Texas coach David Pierce said. “We got a lot of good things tonight from a lot of our guys, but didn’t get the job done. But we are just 23 games into the season and we have another game tomorrow night so we won’t give up.”
The Longhorns have lost four straight and fell by a single run for the seventh time this season. The 11 runs allowed by Texas were a season high.
The Bobcats' win was their first over Texas in five games all-time in San Marcos.
Tate Shaw had four hits and four runs batted in to lead Texas as the Longhorns pounded out 15 hits off six Texas State pitchers. Jones added three hits and two runs batted in and Michael McCann and David Hamilton had two hits apiece.
Blake Walden (5-0) earned the win for Texas State (13-8) with 2-2/3 innings of three-hit, one-run pitching. All five of Walden’s victories have come in relief. It was the Bobcats’ fourth walk-off win of the season.
“Our guys battle — they identify themselves with their competiveness,” Texas State coach Ty Harrington — a former Texas infielder — said. “We never quit tonight against a Texas team that played well and will be fine as the season goes on.
“I’ve known Coach Pearce for a long time, and he will get those guys going. They had an offensive mindset against us tonight and made some great plays in the field. But we just kept finding ways to get it done.”
Texas got on the board in its first at-bat as Jones scored from third on a one-out ground ball by Kacy Clemens that was misplayed by Texas State first baseman Ryan Newman. The Longhorns added another when Kody Clemens’ sacrifice fly to left field plated his older brother from third base.
The Bobcats responded in their half of the first inning as Derek Scheible led off the frame with a long home run over the leftfield fence. Then with two outs Jaylen Hubbard’s single to right brought in Jonathan Ortega from third base to tie the game after Ortega singled and stole second and third base.
Texas retook the lead in the fourth inning when Jones doubled with two out and trotted home on a single by Shaw.
Texas State answered in the bottom of the fifth as Jacob Almendarez singled and came all the way around from first base when Kennedy’s attempted pickoff throw was lost in the glare of the setting sun by Kacy Clemens and was kicked around in the right field corner long enough to Almendarez to score.
The tie didn’t even last an inning as Texas and Texas State both score twice in the sixth. The Longhorns’ runs came via Shaw’s a two-run, two-run double that brought home Jones and David Hamilton. The Bobcats evened it up when Texas reliever Chase Shugart hit the first batter he faced — Sherly — and then got a run-scoring double-play grounder by pinch hitter Travon Benton.
Kody Clemens put Texas back on top in the seventh with a high homer over the right field fence. The Longhorns created three-run cushion in the eighth when Todd scored on three-base throwing error on Hamilton’s attempted sacrifice bunt and Hamilton jogged home in front of Jones on the latter’s long home run over the left field fence.
Texas State again made a run at the Longhorns, using four hits to score twice in the eighth and cut the Texas lead to 9-7. Enter Beau Ridgeway, who coaxed Scheible into a groundout and Ortega into a flyout to center field that stranded the tying runs on second and third base.
It all came apart for the Longhorns in the ninth and, ultimately, the 10th inning.