KINGSVILLE, Texas – Five runs in the top of the sixth spoiled a nice outing from West Texas A&M senior starter Dylan James in the first game of the 2014 Lone Star Conference Championship at Nolan Ryan Field Thursday afternoon No. 3-seed Tarleton State posted a 5-1 victory. With the loss, the Buffs fell to 33-18 on the year, while TSU improved to 27-22.
WT now will have to battle back from the loser’s bracket as it will face the loser of the Texas A&M-Kingsville vs. Angelo State game Thursday at 7 p.m. James fanned seven over five innings in the no decision as the Buff bullpen surrendered five runs and six hits in the sixth breaking a 1-1 game.
James, the LSC Pitcher of the Year, fanned two in the top of the first as the Texans were retired in order. WT senior Matt Redfearn began the bottom of the first with a single through the right side. Following two outs, senior Tyler McKnight singled through the ride side, plating Redfearn for a 1-0 lead.
Tarleton State used a one out single to center and a hit batsman to put two on in the top of the second. James came back with a strikeout, his third of the game. A wild pitch moved the runners to second and third before James fanned Kevin Meredith to get out of the jam on a 3-2 count and end the inning.
Back-to-back singles by Tarleton State put runners on first and second with nobody out in the top of the fourth. A double steal got one out for the Buffs as junior Jacob Caples gunned Noel Nevarez at second. A sacrifice fly by Garrett Kilgore tied the game at one. Dalton Weeks reached on a miscue by the Buffs and Luke Slentz struck out for James’ sixth strikeout of the game to end the frame.
A single and sacrifice bunt put a runner at second for TSU in the top of the fifth. A foul out to first followed for the second out A great pitch by James on a 3-2 count was called a ball for a walk and two on. James walked Rustin Thomas to load the bases. James rang up his seventh of the game, fanning Nevarez to end the inning and leave the bases full.
Kilgore began the top of the sixth with a home run to left for a 2-1 Tarleton State lead off WT senior reliever Sam Ouellet who replaced James. A pair of singles put runners at the corners with one out for the Texans. Evan Robinson beat out what was supposed to be a sacrifice bunt for a 3-1 TSU lead. A single by Alvaro Moreno through the left side, plated the third run of the frame and a 4-1 lead. Ouellet went just 1/3 inning as junior Kyle Olason came in to relieve him with one out in the sixth. A single to center loaded the bases for Thomas who was plunked by the pitch for a 5-1 score. A sacrifice fly from Nick Gilbert plated the fifth run of the inning and a 6-1 TSU lead. Olason got a fly out to right to end the frame. TSU scored five runs on six hits in the inning.
A walk and a single put two on for the Buffs with nobody out in the bottom of the sixth. A fly out to right followed and a walk to junior Aaron Blair loaded the bases for McKnight who struck out swinging for the second out. Senior David Hebert fanned looking as the Buffs left the bases loaded.
An infield single by junior Jacob Caples put the leadoff batter on for the Buffs in the bottom of the seventh. A lineout to short followed as did a strikeout for two away. A walk brought Redfearn back to the plate with two out and a meeting on the mound by the Texans. Redfearn walked to load the bases for the second straight inning as TSU pulled starter Robert Baker from the game in favor of reliever Garrett Kelly. Junior Nick Chapman singled home two runs on a 3-2 count for a 6-3 score. Blair reached on an error plating a run for a 6-4 score.
With two out in the top of the ninth, Tarleton State belted its second home run of the game with a two run shot to left by Dalton Weeks for an 8-4 Texan lead.
The Buffs had one last chance in the bottom of the ninth. A leadoff double from Hargrove got things started for WT as it turned the lineup over to Redfearn who flied out to right, followed by a strikeout and fly out to end the game.
Redfearn led the way for the Buffs going 3 for 4 with two runs scored, while Chapman was 1 for 5 with two RBI. Ouellet (2-2) took the loss, while Baker (7-6) earned the win going 6.2 innings. Kilgore led the way for Tarleton State going 3 for 4 with a run scored, a home run and two RBI.