Baseball

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Head coach Jason Gonzales argues a call in a game against the Steers.
Head coach Jason Gonzales argues a call in a game against the Steers.

The reigning Lone Star Conference Champion Javelina baseball team, is set to begin conference play this Friday at Nolan Ryan Field against West Texas A&M University who like the Javelinas, find themselves with only four losses through the first ten games of the season.

For head coach Jason Gonzales and company, a 1-3 start to begin the season is nothing these guys haven’t dealt with before. In 2014, The Javelinas found themselves in a similar position at this time when they started the season 2-4. But it’s 2015 now and since the slow start, TAMUK has won 5 of their last 6 games to stand at 6-4 before their four-game showdown with the Buffs.

Coming into the conference matchup, the similarities between the teams make the matchup interesting in many ways.  TAMUK has scored 69 runs, while WT has scored 75. As for hits, WT has the upper hand with 108, while the Javelinas are close by with 97. In the power category, TAMUK finds themselves with 4 home runs, while the Buffs have 5. In RBI, once again another close stat as WT has 71 while the Javelinas have 59.  And finally for pitching, the Buffs have the advantage with a team ERA of 3.68 while Javelina pitching sits at an ERA of 5.38.

In this weekend four game series, I look for the Javelina pitching to keep up where they left off against Texas College. Ryan Benitez showed why he could be the ace of the staff in his second and third starts of the season, where he shut the Steers and Jets down with a combined 13 strikeouts and 2 runs earned in 10 total innings pitched. As for the offense, I look for Cline Andrews to keep up the hot bat and carry his team-high .410 batting average to do damage to WT pitching. The senior third baseman already collected 16 hits with 5 doubles and 1 home run.

I also look for Wesley Aguliar to keep up where he left off against the Steers, where he collected 7 hits in the three game series to carry his team to victory. The Javelinas find themselves getting hot and it could not be a better time with conference play starting. The Javelinas are starting to show why they were picked to win the LSC at the start of the season. The key to victory this weekend will be the offense keeping up where they left of, where they scored 18 runs combined in the first-inning of each game with the Steers. The pitching will need to have solid outings from Benitez, Hayden James, Miles Holcomb and Matt Terones. If the offense can provide and the bullpen can hang on, I look for closer Ryan Scott to close the door on what is likely to be a competitive four game series.

Head Coach Jason Gonzales argues a call in the third-inning. Photo by Fares Sabawi

With dominating pitching and the offense scoring a combined 18 runs in the first inning in each game of their three game series, the Texas A&M University-Kingsville Javelina baseball team crushed Texas College 15-4, 12-5 and 9-2 to complete the three game sweep.
In game one with the offense clicking early, TAMUK was in control from the start behind short stop Wesley Aguilar leading the way.

“I felt good since the beginning of the game,” said Aguilar. “I just wanted to keep the ball to the right center gap and connect on line drives. It’s a long season but we just need to keep playing our Javelina baseball with pitching and defense.” Aguilar finished the night 3-for-4 with two runs scored.

For starting pitcher Ryan Benitez, it was a bounce back performance from a week ago as he finished the night with 6 strikeouts giving up only 6 hits.

“I just wanted to come out and throw strikes,” said Benitez. “We have a lot of new players but we are starting to come together as a team. We just need to continue what we did tonight and continue to hit the ball.”

Every Javelina touched base against the Steers with a season-high 15 hits in the blowout.

“It’s huge to come out and get runs early,” said head coach Jason Gonzales. “It allows our pitcher to charge and get hitters and throw strikes. When you have a lead like we did, you have to keep putting the weight on the other team and we are learning to do that. Hopefully that momentum can carry us into tomorrow’s game.”

For the Steers, their top of the lineup seemed to be the only offense for them as first baseman and number two hitter Anthony Lehman finished the night 2-4 with 2 RBI in the loss.

Second baseman Ryan Fickel for the Javelinas and Aguilar combined for 5 hits, while Hayden Vesely and Clint Wallace combined for 5 RBI.
“We just need to keep playing and keep hitting, so the bullpen can rest so we can be ready for conference,” said Aguilar.

“Our priority is to win the first game like we did and once we have done that our goal is to win the second game,” said Gonzales. “If we can do that, then we can go for the sweep having won the series. We will work hard to come out tomorrow to get the series win and hopefully have the opportunity to adjust our goals.”

The Javelinas would continue to soar in game 2 as they came out swinging early once again, this time led by Cline Andrews, who finished the night going 3-5 with 3 RBI.

After putting up 6 runs in the first, Matt Terones did the rest as he picked up his first victory of the season after striking out 5 Steers in 5.0 innings pitched. “Our starting pitcher is getting better,” said Gonzales. “Anytime those guys and go out there and give us a comfortable lead, I expect us to keep getting hits and the plate and go in with a mindset where we can finish a game.”

In the final game, starting pitcher Hayden James allowed just three hits in 5.0 innings and another big first and fourth-inning gave the Javelinas breathing room as they scored big early once again. Andrews finished off his weekend going  3-for-4 with three runs scored and two RBI.

“I’m proud of these guys that were able to come and win three games this weekend,” Gonzales said. “We still have a lot of work to do and teams are only going to get better here on out.”

With the three game sweep, the Javelinas find themselves at 6-4 before they begin Lone Star Conference play against West Texas A&M University this Friday for a four game series with the Buffs at Nolan Ryan Field.

“We will need to continue to work hard and get ready for those guys,” said Gonzales. They are a good team and we will need to be ready because from here on out it only gets harder but I know our guys are ready for the challenge.”

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.”

Ryan Benitez finished with 6 strikeouts in 5 innings pitched. Photo by Rey Castillo

After scoring 9 runs in the first inning, the Texas A&M University-Kingsville Javelina baseball team crushed Texas College 15-4 with their most runs scored since March 15th against Eastern New Mexico.

With the offense clicking early, TAMUK was in control from the start behind short stop Wesley Aguilar  leading the way.

“I felt good since the beginning of the game,” said Aguilar. “I just wanted to keep the ball to the right center gap and connect on line drives. It’s a long season but we just need to keep playing our Javelina baseball with pitching and defense.” Aguilar finished the night 3-for-4 with two runs scored.

For starting pitcher Ryan Benitez, it was a bounce back performance from a week ago as he finished the night with 6 strikeouts giving up only 6 hits.

“I just wanted to come out and throw strikes,” said Benitez. “We have a lot of new players but we are starting to come together as a team. We just need to continue what we did tonight and continue to hit the ball.”

Every Javelina touched base against the Steers with a season-high 15 hits in the blowout.

“It’s huge to come out and get runs early,” said head coach Jason Gonzales. “It allows our pitcher to charge and get hitters and throw strikes. When you have a lead like we did, you have to keep putting the weight on the other team and we are learning to do that. Hopefully that momentum can carry us into tomorrow’s game.”

For the Steers, their top of the lineup seemed to be the only offense for them as first baseman and number two hitter Anthony Lehman finished the night 2-4 with 2 RBI in the loss.

Second baseman Ryan Fickel for the Javelinas and Aguilar combined for 5 hits, while Hayden Vesely and Clint Wallace combined for 5 RBI.

“We just need to keep playing and keep hitting so the bullpen can rest so we can be ready for conference,” said Aguilar.

With the win, the Javelinas are now 4-3 and over .500 for the first time all season. With two more matchups with Texas College, Coach Gonzales knows his team will need to be ready.

“Our priority is to win the first game like we did and once we have done that our goal is to win the second game,” said Gonzales. “If we can do that, then we can go for the sweep having won the series. We will work hard to come out tomorrow to get the series win and hopefully have the opportunity to adjust our goals.”

Javelinas bring it in after splitting their first two home games against the Jets. Photo by Rey Castillo

The reigning Lone Star Conference Champion Texas A&M University-Kingsville baseball team took action at home for the first time in 2015 with a double header against the Newman University Jets. Although the Jets took game one of the opener 7-5, TAMUK would bounce back to take the second matchup 9-8 at Nolan Ryan Field in Kingsville.

With the split, the Javelinas now stand 2-3 on the season with just two weeks until conference play.

For the Javelinas it was all about adjustments to their new starting rotation and with Ryan Benitez getting the call to pitch in the first game, he would settle in nicely despite giving up three runs. Benitez had a season-high seven strikeouts in the loss.

“I felt good out there and our team came up short but we have to be ready for the next game,” said Benitez. “It felt great to pitch a career high but we just have to scratch this one and come out strong in the next one.”

Cline Andrews, Larren Artis and pinch hitter Blake Johnson combined for four hits and 4-of-5 runs for the Javelinas with one of them being a home run to left field off the bat of Artis.

“It’s opening day at Nolan Ryan Field and we were just ready to come out and play,” said Artis. “I was looking for a pitch to hit and in the 6th inning I found a pitch to hit. I just want to be able to come out and help the team and I found a pitch I could drive and did what I was supposed to do and luckily it went out.”
For the Jets, a three-run fifth inning proved to be the difference with right fielder Andrew Standish leading the way. Standish finished game one going 3-5 with 3 RBI.

In the second game of the double header, the Javelina bullpens showed their depth and were tested for the first time this season. Starting pitcher Matt Terrones got into early trouble and was pulled after 2.1 innings pitched and was replaced by Dustin Luna who settled down the Jets with four strikeouts.

“Having guys that can come in and contribute will help our growth in the coming weeks. Our bullpen did a great job of coming in early and pitching through some tough positions,” said head coach Jason Gonzales.

With the Javelinas down 7-2 heading to the bottom of the third inning, the Javelinas showed why they won the LSC a year ago. TAMUK would score three runs in the inning led by Zach Smith and Clint Wallace both getting key hits and driving in a pair each setting up another three-run inning in the fourth to take an 8-7 lead.

“It may not always look pretty but these guys are going to fight until the last out is made,” said Gonzales. “It’s the game of baseball and you are not always going to play well but I was very proud of the way they responded and fought back.”

With the Javelinas holding onto a 9-8 lead in the top of the 9th inning, closer Ryan Scott took the mound for just the second time this season. Scott, who saved 14 games for the Javelinas a season ago, shut the door on the Jets tying up the series 1-1 to set up their rubber match on Sunday.

“It’s good to bounce back,” said Scott. “I love nights like this and I love when my team gives me an opportunity to come and close the game.”

The series may have not gone the Javelinas’ way, but they will look to win “the hard way” with the rubber match taking place tomorrow.

“Our mindset is to win the series,” said Gonzales. “It’s difficult when you lose the first game of the series because you have to win two in a row the hard way, but if you come out and win series after series, come the end of the season you will be where you need to be.”

 

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Photo courtesy of Duan Wright1. How long have you played the game of basketball?

I’ve been playing since the age of the 2, but competitively since I was 8.

2. What inspired you to play?

Other than watching it on television, I just had fun playing the game and having so much fun playing and growing a unique type of love for the game.

3. Who was someone you looked up to growing up?

Growing up, I looked up to my grandpa and my uncles who constantly played everyday.

4. Other than the game of basketball what are some of your other hobbies?

I like to read books, and watch Netflix, oh yeah! And I’m the 2k King!

5. What do you like the most about being a Javelina and playing basketball at TAMUK?

I like the fact that we are the only Javelinas in the nation, haha I think it’s unique, and I love traveling and being around my teammates. They make being away from home a lot easier.

6. After you finish a dunk and hear the crowd get loud, how does it feel?

I like to embrace the moment and work harder to keep the fans into the game and behind us, I love when the crowd is into the game!

7. If you weren’t playing basketball, what would you be doing?

Hmmm, that’s tough… I never really thought about that, but if I had to do anything else with my time I’d probably play baseball… or be a rapper.

8. Do you ever think about playing in the NBA?

I think about that everyday, I still have dreams of playing in the NBA at nights….

9. Who is your favorite NBA team?

San Antonio Spurs Baby!!!

10. What is it like playing for Coach Estelle?

It’s great! He’s an amazing coach to run through a wall for. This is my second year playing for him, and I wouldn’t play for any other college coach.

11. When you hang up your jersey, how do you want others to remember you?

Ahh man, when I hang the shoes up, I just want everybody to remember how hard I played and how much passion I had for the game… oh, and of course some exciting dunks!

12. What was your favorite moment here at TAMUK?

My favorite moment was seeing fans and students support us, it’s cool knowing that we have people behind us and it makes it so much easier for us to play harder knowing we have people to play for.

13. Name one thing most people may not know about Duan Wright.

Hmm, one thing people may not know about me is that I love planting flowers.

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Matt Perez (c) greets his after a victory during the 2014 baseball season.
Matt Perez (c) greets his after a victory during the 2014 baseball season.

After coming off of a second consecutive Lone Star Conference victory, the Texas A&M University-Kingsville Javelinas are now projected to finish in the number one spot according to pre-season polls.

“We’re smart enough to understand that those rankings and preseason polls are based on what we did last year and until they start giving out trophies in January, we’re not going to worry about the polls,” said head coach Jason Gonzales.

The hogs have had three consecutive NCAA South Central Regional Tournament Appearances starting in 2012, but with 15 graduates this past season many are uneasy about this upcoming 2015 season.

“We understand that it’s a new team,”Gonzales said. “It’s a new team that’s going to be searching for a new identity.”

Most of their pitching staff, with the exception of closing right hander Ryan Scott, has graduated. Scott put up some pretty interesting numbers last year, tying a single season school record with 14 saves.

“We have a bunch of guys that have worked extremely hard and they can’t wait to get going,” Gonzales said. “We used to work to be a very good team, but now we’re working to a very good program.”

The program has many goals, one of which: to win the conference.

“It may take us the first month of the season before we kind of figure out exactly who we are and what kind of team we’re going to be, but the expectations are always going to be high here,” Gonzales said.

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STEPHENVILLE- After wrapping up their four game home stand the Texas A&M University Men’s basketball team hit the road for the Tarleton State University Thanksgiving Classic, where the Hoggies took care of Northwest Nazarene University 84-70 before falling to Pittsburgh State University 95-83.

The Javelinas were able to score 25 points off NNU turnovers which helped lead coach Johnny Estelle’s group to victory.

Duran Wright led the Javelinas with 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting, while DJ Weathers added 14 and Jordan Jahr and Jamar Goodwin combined for 21 points. The Javelinas made their mark at the free throw line by making an impressive 18-of-21 at the stripe.

“We fought hard as a team and stayed fighting hard and when you do that, good things will happen,” said Jr. Guard DJ Weathers. “These road games bring a lot of chemistry and it will only allow us to continue to get better.”

As the Javelinas took on PSU, the Hoggies ended the month of November with a loss, which now brings them into December with hopes of getting back to their winning ways.
   In the loss against PSU, the Gorillas shot 66 percent from the field and opened the second half on a 17-6 run, which led to a 15-point lead, which was their largest of the night.

“We have to get better and keep working,” Estelle said. “There are upsets everywhere and sometimes guys have to understand every night is going to be different and they will have to adjust to the different matchups.”
Despite going 15-of-24 in the opening frame, PSU entered halftime with a slim 37-33 advantage. Jones provided much of the scoring for the Javelinas in the first, finishing the half with 11 points and five rebounds.

Troy Jones led all Javelinas with 17 points, while shooting 7-7 from the free throw line, while grabbing eight rebounds, two steals and one block as well. Jamar Goodwin and DJ Weathers combined for 26 points in the loss, while senior Jordan Jahr ended the night with three steals.
With the loss, the Javelinas are now 3-3 on the season as they look to get back above .500 with matchups against St. Mary’s University and Texas A&M University International in the upcoming week.
“We didn’t adjust well tonight those guys beat us and we will just have to go back to the drawing board,” Estelle said.

The Javelinas have a five game road trip before returning back to Hampton Inn Court on Jan. 3 against Schreiner University.

The Javelina baseball team may just get the rings they were hoping for after all.

TAMUK president, Dr. Steven Tallant, said he was hoping to resolve the issue of buying rings for the baseball team, despite the fact that they were not LSC champions.

“I’m extraordinarily proud of our baseball. They’re the best team in history,” he said. “The first thing I said when I came into work the next day was ‘Do we want to get rings?’ and I was disappointed to find out the news too.”

Tallant said he will meet with Scott Gines, Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics and Campus

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Recreation, to discuss purchasing the rings for the baseball team.

“I’m meeting with Gines on Wednesday to decide if we can do it and how we will fund it,” he said. “The way it stands, they cannot get rings that say conference champions. Can they get rings that say something else? I believe so.”

Though the winner of the postseason tournament used to be conference champions, the LSC rules changed in recent years to give that title to the team with the best conference record in the regular season.

“That rule changed because this university led the change,” Tallant said. “It was done by Kent Oliver, our athletic director at the time.”

Whether the team gets their rings or not will be resolved on Wednesday, June 5.

The 2012-2013 Javelina baseball team had the the best record in program history, but it looks like technicalities
will keep them from getting rings to commemorate the season.

Standard practice for the university has been to purchase rings for conference championship teams. However, recent rule changes in the Lone Star Conference Handbook mean that the record-breaking Javelinas technically are not LSC champions.

“The Lone Star Conference has changed their definition on what a champion is,” said Scott Gines, Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics and Campus Recreation.

In years past, the winner of the LSC’s postseason tournament determined the overall champion. However, The LSC’s recent policy change gave the league championship to the team with the best conference record, while the postseason tournament only determines who would get an automatic bid to the regional tournament.

With that policy change, Tarleton State was the LSC champions with a conference record of 21-7. Though the Javelinas had a better overall record of 42-18 as opposed to Tarleton State’s 34-16-1, they came in second in the LSC with a conference record of 18-10.

In the LSC’S last weekly release of the season, they officially declared Tarleton State as conference champions. This was confirmed by Melanie Robotham, assistant commissioner of the LSC.

“The LSC champion is Tarleton State,” she said. “Texas A&M-Kingsville is the LSC Tournament champion.”

“As an institution, you can choose to give rings or not to give rings,” Gines said. “The policy changes do affect the university’s decision to give out postseason awards, though.”