GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – Offense was the theme of the game for the West Texas A&M baseball team as it opened the 2014 NCAA Division II South Central Regional with a 13-10 victory over Tarleton State Thursday afternoon at Suplizio Field. With the win, the Buffs improved to 36-19 on the year, while Tarleton State fell to 29-23.
In the first tournament game in school history, the Buff offense didn’t disappoint as the team scored 13 runs on 20 hits and scored in each of the first seven innings. WT senior Matt Redfearn was 3 for 5 with a home run and four RBI, while junior Dylan Dyson was a perfect 5 for 5 with two RBI and three runs scored. In all, six Buffs had two or more hits and four had three or more.
“It’s big to get our first tournament win,” head coach Matt Vanderburg said. “We didn’t play nervous and played relaxed and was a positive for us playing Tarleton State as it was like playing another conference game for us.”
On the mound, WT was strong for much of the game as senior Scott Cone (8-2) went six innings, allowing nine hits, seven runs – four earned, three walks and three strikeouts. Junior Sean Michel pitched 2.1 innings, while junior closer Paul Lujan earned his school-record ninth save of the season.
“I just tried to keep the ball down and give the team the best chance of winning,” Cone said. “We crushed the ball today and we came out on top.”
In their 10th meeting of the season, the Texans jumped out to the early 2-0 lead in the first as the first two batters of the game got hits. A single up the middle by Garrett Kilgore scored the first run and Noel Nevarez singled to center for the second run.
“I thought our guys played hard,” Vanderburg said. “It’s difficult seeing a team 10 times and they are a really good team and our guys came out and did a really good job. It’s really big to come up with the first win. Scott (Cone) did a really good job and offensively we did an outstanding job of going away. We bought in all week to changing our swings and using the entire field and it showed today.”
WT came right back in the bottom of the frame as senior Matt Redfearn began the gam e with a single through the right side and walk followed. A great sacrifice bunt from junior Aaron Blair put runners at second and third with nobody out. Senior Durango, Colo., native, Tyler McKnight singled up the middle plating two runs to even the score.
In the bottom of the second, the Buffs took the lead with a leadoff single by junior Dylan Dyson and he later scored on a junior Nick Chapman single to right for a 3-2 lead. Two errors to begin the top of the third put TSU’s Rustin Thomas at third with nobody out. Kilgore made the Buffs pay with a ground out to short, scoring the equalizer. Following a walk and a stolen base, a fly out and Luke Slentz, the No. 8-hitter, hit a single up the middle on a 0-2 count for a 4-3 Texan lead.
A two out double from junior Jacob Caples in the bottom of the third and a bloop-single to center from Dyson tied the game at four, plating Caples. In the bottom of the fourth, an error on the Texans and a single and advance to second on the throw by Redfearn put runners at second and third for the Buffs and nobody out. Chapman grounded out to short, plating the fifth run of the game and a 5-4 WT lead. To that point, the Buffs had scored a run in each inning. TSU made a call to the bullpen in favor of Troyal Yosko. Yosko walked one and got a fly out to end the threat.
A single to left from Dyson for his third hit of the game, followed by a double down the right field line put runners at second and third for the Buffs with one out. A line out followed and a three run home run from Redfearn for his third round tripper of the season and an 8-4 WT lead, chasing Yosko from the game.
An infield single and the third miscue on the Buffs put two on with nobody out in the top of the sixth for the Texans. Evan Robinson sacrificed the runners to second and third. WT senior starter Scott Cone got a big strikeout swinging of Alvaro Moreno for the second out and a walk loaded the bases. Kilgore, who was hitting .586 against WT this season in nine games and 1 for 3 today, walked for a RBI and an 8-5 score. It was his eight RBI against the Buffs this season as he has three today. The Buffs got out of the jam, leaving the bases loaded with a ground out to third.
Singles by Caples and Dyson put two on with one out in the bottom of the sixth. Junior Justin Hargrove loaded the bases with a single through the right side. Junior Max Brennen singled through the left side on a 3-2 count swelling the lead back to four runs and 9-5. The lead grew to 10-5 as Redfearn was plunked by a pitch for his fourth RBI of the game. Chapman walked in another run for an 11-5 lead as the Texans went to the bullpen for the fourth time in the game. Following the change, the Texans got out of the inning with a double play, the 53rd twin killing against the Buffs this season.
The Texans began the top of the seventh with a pair of singles. WT went to the bullpen in favor of junior Sean Michel to relieve senior starter Scott Cone. Slentz popped out to short for the first out and Kevin Meredith singled through the right side to load the bases. Robinson hit a sacrifice fly to center for an 11-6 score. Moreno hit a two run triple to right for an 11-8 score.
Following the big inning from the Texans, the Buffs had a single from McKnight, followed by a RBI triple from Caples for a 12-8 score. Dyson then then singled to right for his team-leading fifth hit of the game and a 13-8 score.
Garrett Kelly shut the Buffs down in the last of the seventh and the eighth for the first scoreless inning for WT in the game. In the ninth, a single and a double from Meredith scored the first run of the inning. WT brought in Lujan to replace Michel and Moreno hit a sacrifice fly for a 13-10 score and the second out. Lujan got Kilgore to look at strike three to end the game.
The Buffs now play No. 3-seed Texas A&M-Kingsville tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. in a winner’s bracket game. WT is 5-3 this season against TAMUK as it downed the Javelinas 4-3 in Kingsville, Texas, last weekend in the Lone Star Conference Baseball Championship.