Javelina baseball splits conference opener with Buffs

Javelina baseball splits conference opener with Buffs

Hayden James (40) struck out a career-high 11 batters in the game 2 loss. Photo by Rey Castillo

With Lone Star Conference play underway and West Texas A&M University making its way to Nolan Ryan Field, the baseball team of Texas A&M University Kingsville find themselves with a split after winning 6-3 in their first game with the Buffs and falling 3-1 in their second of the double-header.

It was starting pitcher Ryan Benitez getting the call for the Javelinas and he would respond once again with a performance that would give his team a chance to win. Benitez finished his night giving up just 1 run on 6 hits with 2 strikeouts.

“We got a well pitched game from Ryan and it gave us a chance to win,” said head coach Jason Gonzales. “We got some timely hits and were able to put the game away and that’s why we came out on top.”

The Javelinas were able to score a run in the first-inning for the third time in their last four games and it started with second baseman Ryan Fickel who was able to score a run on a Cline Andrews single. Fickel, Zach Smith and Andrews combined for 5 hits and 3 RBI in the win.

“The hitters responded and came through and they helped us put the game away,” Gonzales said.

With a 6-3 lead in the top of the ninth inning, Gonzales called on closer Ryan Scott to close out and the game and he did just that. With the save, Scott collected his third of the season and tied the Javelinas all time record for most saves in a season.

In the second matchup with the Buffs, the story was starting pitching.

Coming off a 5 inning shutout with 6 strikeouts, Hayden James would show why his teammates and coaching staff look to him to get outs. James would finish the night giving up just 3 hits and 2 runs with 11 strikeouts. The 11 strikeouts would be a new career-high for the 6’3 senior from Corpus Christi.

“I felt really good going into the game,” said James. “I just needed to focus on executing my pitches and I was able to hit my spots and my defense worked hard behind me.”

With the bats quiet, the Javelinas only managed to come up with just 2 hits in 28 at bats, while the Buffs came up with 6 hits, two of them coming from third baseman Matt Cole, who drove in the insurance run to give the Buffs a 3-1 lead, which would be the deciding score.

“We just need to have more energy in our next matchup with them,” said James. “We need to come out and outplay them.”

With the split, the Javelinas stand at 7-5 overall and 1-1 in LSC play.

“Our goal is still to get a series win and our game plan tomorrow will be the same as it was today,” said Gonzales. “We need to get good starting pitching again and a few timely hits.”