Texas A&M-Kingsville bests Angelo State to garner program's fifth Lone Star title
CANYON, Texas -- Texas A&M-Kingsville regrouped from a 7-5 loss to Angelo State in the opening game of the Lone Star Conference Championship to win the second game 10-7 for the program’s fifth LSC title and first under head coach Jason Gonzales.
The Javelinas had 14 hits in the decisive game with eight different players notching a hit. Taylor Taska led the way with three hits and pitched four innings of relief to get his second win of the tournament and ninth of the season. He was named the tournament MVP.
With the win, the Javelinas clinched an automatic spot in the NCAA South Central Regional. Ranked No. 1 in the region entering the weekend, the Javelinas moved to 39-16 and set a school record for wins. ASU dropped to 36-19.
After losing a 5-1 lead in the first game, the Hoggies jumped out to an early in game two, scoring four runs in the top of the first inning off Michael Lange.
In the four-run first, the Javelinas had back-to-back singles by Ben Villafuerte and Taska to get things started. Chris Ballou hit a single through the right side to drive in Villafuerte. Taska came home as James Black reached on a fielder’s choice. After Travis Laird doubled to put runners at second and third, Clint Wallace lined a single to right-center field to bring in both Laird and Black. Christian Summers doubled in a run off Miles Holcomb, who went 3.1 innings in just his second start of the season, in the bottom of the first to make it a 4-1 game. Holcomb allowed just two runs on three hits.
The score remained 4-1 until the top of the third inning when Black led off the inning with a solo home run to left.
A sacrifice fly by Quaid McKinnon in the bottom of the third kept bumped Kingsville's advantage to 5-2.
ASU threatened in the bottom of the fifth. Tres Tyler, who relieved Holcomb in the bottom of the fourth, hit the first two batters he faced in the fifth. Taska then took over on the mound and forced Ryan Greer into a crucial double play. Taska ended the inning by getting Neumann to ground out to short.
The Javelinas continued to add to their lead with two runs in both the sixth and seventh innings.
In the sixth, Matt Perez doubled to start the inning and scored on a James Wallace single. J. Wallace moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and raced home on a single to left by Taska for a 7-2 lead.
The Hoggies took advantage of an error in the top of the seventh to push the lead to 9-2.
ASU plated five runs in the bottom of the seventh off Taska. McKinnon started the scoring with an RBI single to right to plate Hunter Choate. After Neumann walked, Summers struck again with a triple into the corner in right. Summers then scored the fifth run of the inning by stealing home.
In the top of the eighth, the Javelinas added a run off Bryce Zak. Zak hit Villafuerte to open the inning. After moving to third on a single by Taska, Villafuerte scored on a single by Ballou.
After Taska tossed a scoreless eighth, Jeremy Flores picked up his fourth save of the tournament with a scoreless ninth. It was his 13th save of the season.
In the first game of the day, Kingsville struck first in the bottom of the second on an RBI single by Laird.
ASU broke through in the fourth with a run on back-to-back doubles down the left field line. Neumann lined the first double and scored on a double by Summers.
Kingsville responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning as Laird delivered another two-out hit. C. Wallace drew a walk with one out from Mason Leavitt, while Perez reached on an infield error with two away. Laird tripled to clear the bases for a 4-1 lead.
The Javelinas added an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth for a 5-1 lead as Taska doubled off the wall in right-center field to drive in Joe Tallerine.
In the seventh, the Rams' offense loaded the bases with one away. After Kingsville was unable to successfully turn a double play to end the inning, ASU's Quaid McKinnon followed with a three-run home run to right field to deadlock game at five.
After recording the final out of the seventh, Dallas Ponder stayed on the mound in the eighth and allowed a two-run single to Hunter Choate.
Jake Feckley earned the win by tossing three innings of one-hit relief for the Rams.
• Conference Championship Central