Baseball rallies in ninth inning to defeat Louisiana-Lafayette, 8-7

Sports Editor

The Texas State baseball team faced a similar situation to last year. Louisiana-Lafayette defeated Texas State twice in last year’s conference tournament, including a 4-3 victory in an elimination game.

This year, however, was different. Granger Studdard, sophomore left fielder, reached second base in the ninth inning after Evan Powell, Ragin’ Cajuns senior left fielder, misplayed a ball that would have ended the game. The error granted the Bobcats another chance.

Texas State, trailing by three runs heading into the ninth inning, used the mistake to their advantage. The next two batters reached base, setting up David Paiz, senior first baseman, with a chance to complete the comeback attempt. Paiz’s single down the right field line gave the Bobcats a 8-7 lead.

“I tried not to get lost in the moment,” Paiz said. “My swing has been feeling good the last couple of weeks. I was just glad to come through in the clutch for my team.”

Louisiana-Lafayette’s three-run lead was erased in half of an inning. By then, it was too late. Texas State had flipped the switch on the third-seeded Ragin' Cajuns, who entered the game with six wins in the past eight meetings over the Bobcats.

The Bobcats’ 8-7 victory sends Louisiana-Lafayette into an elimination game.

“We’ve been playing baseball for the last three games,” said Jeremy Fikac, assistant coach. “We were one of the last teams to get in on the last day. These kids have had their backs against the wall for the last weekend. We just carried the momentum into today.”

The Ragin’ Cajuns led for the entire game, until the bottom of the ninth inning. To make matters worse, all four of Texas State’s runs in the ninth inning were unearned. 

The duo of Blake Whitter, senior pitcher, and Cory Geisler, junior pitcher, closed the ninth inning, sending Louisiana-Lafayette into an elimination game. 

“Tip your hat to our guys,” Fikac said. “They fought and fought and fought. The mentality was great. The attitude was great.”

The Bobcats trailed by three runs on two separate occasions. Paiz was the team’s answer to both deficits.

With two runners on base, Paiz sent a pitch up in the strike zone from Gunner Leger, Ragin’ Cajuns freshman pitcher, past the left field wall for a three-run home run.

Paiz’s home run, his fourth of the season, tied the game at four in the fourth inning. In five at bats, Paiz tallied six runs batted in, three hits and one run.

“David was clutch for us all day long,” Fikac said.

Paiz’s hitting compensated for Lucas Humpal, junior pitcher, in Humpal's first start of the tournament. Humpal lasted 3.1 innings, allowing 10 hits and six unearned runs. Half of Humpal’s 10 hits allowed were for extra bases. 

“We didn’t play our best baseball,” Fikac said. “Humpal wasn’t Humpal today. (But) we had some kids step up.”

Once Humpal exited in the fourth inning, the bullpen settled in. Louisiana-Lafayette recorded one hit in 5.2 innings against the bullpen with one run scored.

Texas State’s offense, averaging 9.3 runs in its last seven games, responded when the team needed it most. 

“Our offense has been fantastic this last month,” Fikac said. “This team has a lot of confidence.”

Instead of facing an elimination game, Texas State’s season is guaranteed to last until Friday evening. The team will play the winner of Troy and UT-Arlington Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

“It’s definitely big,” Paiz said. “If you get in the losers bracket right away, it’s tough to come back from that. It’s nice to get a win to start off.”

Follow Quixem Ramirez on Twitter at @quixem.