CANYON – If anyone were to ask the top two seeds of the NCAA South Central Regional Tournament, they would both say the Tarleton wasn’t a typical No. 6 seed.
The Texans stood toe-to-toe with the top two teams in the tournament before having their season end in an 11-inning, 3-2 heartbreaker against second-seeded No. 7 Colorado Mesa Friday afternoon.
“It was a great game and we have a lot of respect for Colorado Mesa,” said head coach Bryan Conger. “It was an opportunity for us to test ourselves and see what we’re made of against one of the top teams in this region. We’re proud of the way these guys battled and scrapped, but we just fell a little short today.
“I will take this team forever,” he continued. “I’ll go to battle with this group of seniors anytime.”
The loss brings a close on the fourth season in program history that a Tarleton team has qualified for the NCAA playoffs and the second to do so as the Lone Star Conference Tournament Champions. The Texans finished 35-17 on the season.
Senior Nathan Hickey got the starting nod against the Mavericks and was spectacular.
The Lone Star Conference Pitcher of the Year tossed eight innings in his final start for the purple and white and allowed two runs – one earned – on seven hits while striking out seven. He allowed only a leadoff home run in the first inning and an unearned run in the eighth before turning to Eddie Avila out of the bullpen.
Hickey’s seven strikeouts gave him 96 on the season, making him the new single-season strikeout leader in Tarleton history.
Avila, who finished his career as the all-time saves leader, pitched the final three innings and allowed only one unearned run in the 11th inning while striking out five.
The offense was led by a two-hit game from Blake Adams while Elvin Alamo, Jared McCarver, Jake Hasbrouck, Dylan Lemons, and Hunter Hudson had one hit each. Alamo’s two-run single in the seventh inning was all the offense could push across as Hudson and Adams scored for a 2-1 lead after seven.
Tarleton will say farewell to one of the largest senior classes in program history – Adams, Avila, Conner Fletcher, Colby Fowler, Hasbrouck, Stacy Heinatz, Hickey, Lemons, McCarver, Evan Pontley, Luis Rivas, Francisco and Ruben Rodriguez, and Jake Shelby.