Baseball

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In spite of seven strong innings from five different pitchers, the Texas A&M University Kingsville baseball team (26-17, 20-9 in LSC play) lost their lead in the ninth inning and fell to the St. Edward’s Hilltoppers, 5-3, Tuesday night at Nolan Ryan Field.

Trailing 3-2 in the 7th inning, The Hipptoppers loaded the bases and would tie the game on an RBI single by pinch-hitter Steven Robertson who was just getting started. Robertson would go on to bat again in the ninth against Weston Silverberg and connect on an RBI double that would give his team the lead for good.

Dustin Luna got the nod to pitch with Ryan Benitez and Matt Terrones resting from starts against Eastern New Mexico two days prior. Luna pitched 2.0 innings of scoreless baseball with two strikeouts in his third start of the season.

“It’s a disappointing loss, especially when you have a lead in the ninth inning,” head coach Jason Gonzales said. “We played a lot of guys that haven’t played a lot this season but we cant make mistakes, especially this late in the season.”

The Javelinas got things going in the first-inning with an RBI single by Larren Artis who put TAMUK on the board first. The Hogs would hold that lead until the sixth, when SEU tied the game on a fielder’s choice. The Hilltoppers added another run in the seventh to take a 2-1 lead but the Javelinas would tie things up with an Wesley Aquliar Squeeze that scored David Massey.

“The defense played well and I felt like we scored enough runs to win,” Gonzales said. “When you have the lead in the ninth you feel good but tonight we just didn’t get it done.”

With the playoffs only a few weeks away, Gonzales knows his team needs to be ready to play their best ball.

“We just have to play better,” Gonzales said. “We just have to learn from the mistakes we made.”

The Javelinas will begin a three game road trip in San Angelo as they will take on the Angelo State Rams starting on Friday and with just seven games left, TAMUK will look to pad their two game lead in the Lone Star Conference standings.

“We have to go into that series in Angelo learning from the mistakes that we made tonight and make sure that we don’t repeat them,” Gonzales said.

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Starting pitching once again stole the show as the Texas A&M University Kingsville baseball team took 3 of 4 games against the Angelo State University Rams at Nolan Ryan Field to improve to 15-3 at home, giving head coach Jason Gonzales his 200th win of his career. Ryan Benitez once again got the nod to face off against the third-place Rams who sent right-hander Steve Naemark to the mound. The two righties would pitch well, but it was Benitez who came out on top allowing 0 runs for the second consecutive start. Blake Johnson and Zach Smith would both finish 2-3 with two doubles, with Smith providing the only run for TAMUK. “Ryan pitched well and he has been solid for us all season long,” Gonzales said. We were able to rely on him and even though we didn’t score a lot of runs, our team was still able to pull out the win.” The Javelinas would get a similar performance in their second game with the Rams but this time it was Hayden James getting in on the pitching action. James would allow just one run in four innings pitched as he set up his offense to score 8 runs behind third baseman Cline Andrews and center fielder Brayton Carlson who combined for 4 runs on 5 hits pulling the Javelinas away for at least a series tie. “I felt good going into the game and I just needed to focus on executing pitches and once again hit my spots,” said James. “My defense played well behind me and that’s why I was able to go out there and get it done.” With James and Benitez providing consistent pitching, left hander Matt Terrones would make a name for himself after coming off his first scoreless outing of the season sas he got the start in the third game of the series. Terrones would allow just 4 hits in 7 innings pitched in his second consecutive shutout of the season. “I can’t say enough about what those three pitchers have done,” Gonzales said. “Matt is probably one of the biggest competitor’s that I know and its almost a fist fight when I want to pull him out because he wants to win so bad and when a guy fights like that and competes like that, that’s all you can ask for from a starter.” Although the Hogs would go on to lose the final game of the series, the Javelinas set themselves up grab a first place lead in the Lone Star Conference standings before they hit the road for nine games before coming home for Cameron University on April 10th. “We always preach that a great ball club and staff feed off each other,” Gonzales said. “The season is long and come April and May it is going to get hot and that is when we will really be tested. Our starters will need to have a bullpen that is ready and rested with four game series and double headers coming up.”

On March 22, Jason Gonzales earned his 200th victory as head coach of the Texas A&M University Kingsville baseball team, making him the fastest skipper in Javelina baseball history to reach the 200 win mark. Entering his seventh season as head coach of the Javelinas, Gonzales has lived up to all expectations on and off the field. Gonzales has taken the Javelinas to three NCAA South Central Regional Tournaments since taking over as head coach. With back to back-to-back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances; the Javelinas are set to continue their winning ways in 2015 with a head coach that knows his 200 wins are not just by his efforts, but from those around him. “What 200 wins means is a couple of things,” Gonzales said. “If I have been good at anything it is because I have been surrounded by good people. We have been able to recruit quality student athletes who have bought into the program we have in place.”
Gonzales, a native of Cuero, began his baseball journey starting at shortstop at Cuero High School, where he later graduated in 1988 before becoming an All-state baseball player.  He then would be taken in the MLB draft by the Atlanta Braves in 1988, but signed with the University of Texas. He then suffered an injury while at UT and transferred to Blinn Junior College where he played from 1990-1991. He was again selected by the Braves in the 1991 draft, but went to the University of Louisiana Lafayette where he played two seasons for the Ragin’ Cajuns.  Gonzales then served as an assistant for two years at Arkansas State and one season at Wharton County Junior College.  He returned to UL Lafayette in 1998 where he served as an assistant through the 2002 season. During that time, the Cajuns hosted their first NCAA Regional Tournament, advanced to the NCAA College World Series and won a pair of regional championships before coming to the Javelinas. “The good Lord told me this is where you need to be,” Gonzales said. I saw that the coaching job was open and my wife and I felt Kingsville was a place that we could come and build something special and when you walk with the Lord all you have to do is follow him and overall we just felt this is where we needed to be.” In 2014, the Javelinas advanced to the championship game of the NCAA South Central Region for the second consecutive season and were one out away from advancing to the College World Series before falling to Colorado Mesa. But 2015 is here and Gonzales knows that there is no room for excuses and knows that his ball club must continue to handle every situation with class and playing for each other. “Playing with class is a big reason we have been successful,” Gonzales said. “I give a lot of credit to my assistant coaches and I am thankful to have been surrounded by good people. A team that I admire the most is the San Antonio Spurs because they have always handled every situation with class and play their game the right way and that’s what we strive to be like.” With new faces on the field and most of their power bats graduating, the mindset has and always will stay the same in Kingsville. Whether it is playing small ball or relying on starting pitching, Gonzales knows adjustments are part of the game. “We are scoring runs differently than we did last year,” Gonzales said. “This year we are stealing more bases and beating teams with our pitching. This has been a very fun team to coach because we only have on starter from last year, so we recruited and been fortunate to have guys step up. The environment has remain the same and we have guys that are God fearing men and these guys enjoy the brotherhood.” The reigning Lone Star Conference champions currently sit at 19-12 overall and 13-6 in the LSC with an LSC best 15-3 record at home as they prepare once again for another LSC title run. “If all people say about me is that I won championships and reached 200 wins, then I think I failed as a man,” said Gonzales. I want to be known as a coach that created an environment for these guys to grow a brotherhood and have fun, love each other and create life long friendships that last them a lifetime.”

It is safe to say the Javelina baseball team is starting to get into form and play like the Lone Star Conference champions that they are.

With solid hitting and consistent defense, the pitching has been the key for head coach Jason Gonzales and company. Matt Terrones , Hayden James and Ryan Benitez have been nothing less than solid in their past three outings.  With their recent matchup against Cameron University, Terrones followed up last week’s win over nationally ranked West Texas A&M University with a shutout. The lefty struck out four Aggies and allowed just three hits in TAMUK’s first shutout since April 26, 2014 versus Angelo State.

Shortly after, James had another pitching performance to remember as the right-hander finished with an 11-strikeout performance against seven strikeouts in 7.0 innings.

The Aggies were only able to get one hit off the senior as James earned his first shutout as a Javelina.

So with the pitching in form and the offense clicking, Gonzales has to be pleased with the young players that are stepping up. Although the season is still young, these guys are on the right track to mirror what they did a season ago.

The Hogs will be looking to prepare for Eastern New Mexico this weekend in a four game set at Nolan Ryan Field. This will be their first matchup of the season with the Greyhounds.

  Looking at the numbers, the Greyhounds find themselves at the bottom of the LSC in fifth place above Cameron, but you won’t find any of the Javelinas taking them lightly. Look for TAMUK to take advantage of their LSC worst 7.20 ERA with 106 runs allowed.

The Javelinas find themselves at 11-7 and in second place in the LSC with their 5-2 conference record. TAMUK will look to use their .281 team batting average against Greyhound pitching. As for offense, the Greyhounds are hitting an impressive .296 against their opponents but you can bet TAMUK’S big 3 will be up for the challenge.

I look for the Javelinas to win the series 4-0 with the pitching picking up where it left off and the bats doing the same. I look for senior third baseman Cline Andrews to continue to swing the bat with this team leading with a .354 batting average to set the tone for his offense, while Javelina pitching finishes the job.

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Forward Duan Wright (13) scored 15 of his 21-points in the second half.

Although they outscored the No.2 seed Angelo State University 40-34 in the second half, the Texas A&M University-Kingsville Javelina basketball team fell to the Rams 83-73 in the first round of the Lone Star Conference tournament at the Allen Event center in Allen, Texas.

After being down as many as 20-points, the Javelinas capped off a strong second half led by forward Duan Wright and guard Don Thomas who scored 12 points, while Wright finished with 21-points with 15 of them coming in the final 12 minutes.

“Our goal coming into this game was to compete at a high level,” said Wright. “We wanted to win in this situation because it’s win or go home in the playoffs. Coach told us before the game we could win but we knew they wouldn’t just hand the game over to us.”

 Scoring in the paint came easy for both clubs as ASU finished with 36 points under the basket, but it was the Rams who took advantage in the first half led by senior guard Chris Jones. Jones scored a combined 39-points in the first two meetings against TAMUK and finished the night with 23 points to lead his team in the playoff clash with the Hogs.

“They made a lot of big shots in crucial moment,” said Wright. “They used it to build momentum and they all fed off each others energy.”

All season long the Javelinas battled for 40 minutes each game and in spite of their 8-19 season record, first-year coach Johnny Estelle could not have been more proud of how his young ball club battled.

“I am proud of our guys for fighting back, but there are no moral victories in basketball,” said Estelle. “This was a win-or-go-home game and unfortunately, we ended up with a sour taste in our mouths. I am excited to bring Javelina Nation back to the promised land as we look to continue improving on our foundation. We did not look to make an easy fix. We want a family like culture here and we look forward to what’s to come from our team.”

 With senior Jordan Jahr and Troy Jones playing their final game, Wright knows that other players will need to be step up next season and he could not be more sure that his teammates will step up to the challenge. Jahr and Jones combined for 15 points in their last game as Javelinas.

“I can say that I am proud to be around a great group of guys who are willing to put in the work to bring back pride in Javelina basketball,” said Wright. “The future looks bright and I know we are just a step away from making it to the top.”

The Javelinas will enter the 2016 season looking to bounce back with a young ball club that not only has chemistry, but a year’s experience together. With a season full of close games and losses the Javelinas had in their grasp. Wright will look to lead his team to a using 2015 as motivation.

“I will remember every game that we had in our grasp and make sure we do not make the same mistakes over that coach Estelle told us about,” said Wright. “After the game coach told us that if we didn’t want to feel bad about losing, that we would need to work harder so that next season things will be different and we won’t be in the same boat.”

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Photo Courtesy of Javelina Athletics
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

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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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