EDINBURG – Tarleton rode timely hitting and a lockdown effort from its bullpen to split a Saturday twin bill with the Vaqueros at the UTRGV Baseball Complex.
The Texans fell 9-7 to UTRGV in game one but tallied 12 hits and had three players record multi-hit games.
Tarleton responded with a 7-6 victory in the nightcap to earn its first win over the Vaqueros in a four-game weekend series. Dean Frew and Cody Vannoy drove in three runs in the seventh inning to break a 4-4 tie and closer AJ Wood fired 4.2 innings of relief to earn the win.
Game 1: UTRGV 9, Tarleton 7 (7 innings)
A seventh-inning rally fell just short for the Texans in a two-run loss to the Vaqueros in game one.
Trailing 9-5, Tarleton pushed across two runs with one down in the frame to bring the tying run to the plate.
Kemuel Thomas-Rivera ignited the Texans’ comeback bid with an infield single down the third base line. A double to left center field by Kade Turnage then advanced Thomas-Rivera to third and set up London Green, who poked a 2-RBI single up the middle to trim the deficit to two.
Vaqueros’ reliever Ricky Gerik Jr. retired Colby Seltzer on the ensuing at-bat but another infield single – this time courtesy of Frew – put runners at the corners. UTRGV then turned to its closer Chase Bridges, who induced a flyout to right field off the bat of Corey Young to end the game.
The Texans jumped out to a 3-0 advantage after two innings and led 5-3 entering the bottom-half of the third. An ensuing UTRGV six-spot proved decisive, however.
The Vaqueros rattled off four consecutive hits to begin the frame to chase Tarleton starter Luke Baley. A pair of singles and a double cut Tarleton’s lead down to 5-4. UTRGV then took the lead for good on a three-run home run to make the score 7-5. The Vaqueros then plated two more runs via sacrifice flies to center field off Zach Poe.
Tarleton hunted fastballs and used patient approaches at the plate to build its early advantages. All five of the Texans’ runs came with two out.
Green poked an RBI single through the right side of the infield to score left fielder Wade Raburn from third and give Tarleton a 1-0 lead in the top of the first.
The 5-9 junior went a combined 4-8 at the plate and finished with a team-high five RBI on Saturday. Green has hit .467 (35-75) with 17 RBI since Apr. 6.
The Texans brought home two more runs via back-to-back doubles by Raburn and Tyler Fowler in the top of the second off Vaqueros starter Kevin Palm.
The Vaqueros evened the score with a trio of second inning runs off Bailey.
Frew then cracked a two-run home run to left field to put Tarleton back in front one final time. A single from Seltzer set up Frew’s blast. The dinger was Frew’s second of the season.
Frew reached base five times on Saturday, hit 4-7 and had three RBI.
Thomas-Rivera joined Green and Frew in posting a multi-hit game.
Right-handers Poe and Jon Law relieved Baley and combined to limit UTRGV to one run over the game’s final three innings. Law fired a scoreless sixth inning in just his third appearance of the season. Poe (3-0, 3.03 ERA) has allowed just one run in his last 10.2 innings of work.
The loss dropped Baley’s overall record to 5-4. Tarleton had previously won three straight ballgames with the junior on the mound.
Game 2: Tarleton 7, UTRGV 6
Head coach Aaron Meade made the move for his closer with one out in the fifth inning after UTRGV evened the score and put runners at first and second.
The strategy paid off in a big way.
Wood induced a weak pop-out to second pase and fanned the ensuing batter with a heater to erase the Vaqueros’ scoring threat. The 6-4 righty then posted a 1-2-3 sixth inning to set up Tarleton’s winning rally.
Green and catcher Ian Groves smacked consecutive one-out singles to the outfield and Seltzer reached first on a throwing error by the shortstop to load the bases in the seventh. Frew golfed an RBI single into right field on the ensuing at-bat to make it 5-4 in favor of Tarleton. Vannoy followed up with a 2-RBI single into left field to up Tarleton’s lead to three runs and prompt a UTRGV pitching change.
Wood scattered a pair of singles in the seventh and eighth innings. UTRGV refused to bow out quietly in the ninth, though.
Vaqueros’ second baseman Andy Atwood lifted a two-run dinger to left field – his second home run of the game – with two out to cut Tarleton’s lead down to 7-6. Meade then paid Wood a visit on the mound with relievers stirring in the bullpen. Wood responded with strikeout on a bender to slam the door.
The outing was the longest of the 2021 campaign for Wood (3-1, 2.57 ERA, 9 saves). He fired 77 pitches, struck out five and walked just two.
Junior Justin Waltmon allowed three runs over 3.1 innings of work in his second start of the spring. Waltmon punched out six of the first 11 batters he faced. He gave way to fellow right-handers Landon Cody and Hunter Thomas, who bridged the gap to Wood in the fifth.
Vannoy finished 2-4 out of the designated hitter spot in game two. Playing against his former team, Vannoy helped Tarleton assume a 3-0 lead through two innings.
The third-year sophomore singled in the top of the second with no outs after Frew reached first base on a wild pitch. Raburn then sliced a single to left field to score Frew. Fowler worked a walk before Thomas-Rivera brought home Vannoy on a sacrifice fly.
Thomas-Rivera and Green teamed up to manufacture a run in the top of the fifth. Playing shortstop, Thomas-Rivera reached base in the frame on a low throw from the third baseman, stole second, and later reached home on an RBI single to right field by Green.
Tarleton finished with 11 strikeouts on the mound and had 10 hits in the victory. The Texans are now 20-30 with a 13-18 mark in Western Athletic Conference play. UTRGV (24-21, 15-12 WAC) maintained possession of fourth place in the conference standings with Saturday’s split.
The series finale is set for a noon first pitch on Sunday. Freshman right-hander Ryan Jacobs is penciled in as the Texans’ probable starting pitcher.