GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. -- Tarleton State's Noel Nevarez went 4-for-5 with three runs batted in, including the game-winning RBI, as the Texans came back to score four runs in the top of the 10th inning Friday to defeat New Mexico Highlands 13-9.
The win pushed Tarleton's record to 30-23 overall, giving the Texans a 30-win season for the fourth straight year, but more importantly it marked the first victory for a Texan team at the NCAA Championships.
Playing in just its fourth postseason game in school history, the Texans are now 1-3 in NCAA play and will move onto the next round to face the loser of West Texas A&M and Texas A&M-Kingsville. Game time for Saturday will be determined later.
The Texans were up by five runs and just nine outs away from a win, but a five-run seventh inning allowed the Cowboys (32-22) to come back into the fold. Tarleton led 8-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, but three home runs later the Cowboys would tie the game at 8, and then later scored a go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth inning.
With the Texans down a run, Garrett Kilgore led off the ninth inning with a single to left field and Christopher Patton came into the game to pinch run for the senior first baseman. Patton then stole second base when Andrew Jacobi struck out and then came around to score on Kevin Meredith's RBI single up the middle, which tied the game at 9.
After NMHU failed to get a run across in the bottom of the ninth, Alvaro Moreno led off the 10th with a single to center field. Jared Musgrove then moved him over to second base with a sacrifice bunt and Rustin Thomas followed with an infield single to put runners at the corners with just one out.
Nevarez drove in his third run of the game with a single to left field and Moreno came home to score and give the Texans a 10-9 lead. With Thomas on second and Nevarez on first, NMHU was forced to bring in a relief pitcher, but the new pitcher, Phil Trujillo, walked Jake Klauck to load the bases.
NHMU again made a pitching change as Daniel Clark came into the game and he managed to get Matt Olive to fly out, but Thomas would come home to score on the sacrifice fly and give Tarleton a two-run lead, up 11-9.
Nevarez advanced to third on the play and Klauck moved to second on a wild pitch before Luke Slentz doubled home both players to extend the Texan lead to 13-9.
Garrett Kelly (W, 5-1) worked the final 3 1/3 innings to pick up the win for the Texans. He came into the game in relief of Colton Burleson and starting pitcher, Robert Baker. Kelly yielded just one run on three hits and struck out one batter as well.
NMHU's Ben Ruff (L, 1-6) was charged with the loss, giving up four runs on five hits in just 1 1/3 inning of work.
Moreno, Kilgore and Meredith each had three hits and the Texans tallied 18 hits total as a team.