UTSA extends Hallmark’s contract for four seasons

Coach Pat Hallmark, who led the UTSA baseball team to 38 victories and the Conference USA tournament title game last season, has been rewarded with a four-year extension on his contract.

UTSA on Monday announced a four-year contract extension for baseball coach Pat Hallmark. — File photo by Joe Alexander

The new deal is scheduled to keep the coach in San Antonio through 2026, according to a UTSA news release.

In his third year at the helm of the Roadrunners’ program, Hallmark pushed his team to a 38-20 record overall and to 19-11 in the C-USA. UTSA finished 11-4 against ranked opponents and 9-3 against top 25 teams.

After opening the C-USA tournament with three straight victories, including two over No. 1 seed and tournament host Southern Miss, the Roadrunners lost 9-8 to the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in the title game.

UTSA, denied the C-USA’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament with the loss, nevertheless returned home to San Antonio optimistic.

The Roadrunners felt they had done enough to warrant an at-large bid into the 64-team field. They even invited the media to the NCAA selection show. But in a crushing blow, they didn’t make it.

“Coach Hallmark has our baseball program moving in the right direction,” said Lisa Campos, UTSA Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics. “His leadership and ability to recruit academically and athletically talented students resulted in one of the best seasons in program history this past spring.

“We’re thrilled to be able to secure him for four more years and very excited about what’s in store for the future of UTSA baseball.”

Pat Hallmark’s UTSA record

x-2020 — 10-7
2021 — 22-26, 14-17
2022 — 38-20, 19-11

x-The 2020 season was cut short by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Corpus Christi’s John Gaddis gets the win in CWS clincher for the Ole Miss Rebels

Former Corpus Christi Calallen standout John Gaddis emerged as the winning pitcher in relief Sunday afternoon as the Ole Miss Rebels beat the Oklahoma Sooners 4-2 to win their first national title in baseball.

In the College World Series game played in Omaha, Neb., in front of a crowd announced at 25,972, Gaddis entered the game in the seventh and put a stop to a rally.

With the bases loaded and OU leading 2-1, Ole Miss replaced Mason Nichols with Gaddis to pitch to John Spikerman. Gaddis, a lefthander and a transfer from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, promptly struck out Spikerman to end the threat.

In the eighth, Gaddis issued a one-out walk but then got tough, retiring Tanner Tredaway on a fly ball and striking out Jimmy Crooks. In the bottom half, Ole Miss took the lead when the Rebels’ offense produced three runs.

With one out, TJ McCants singled up the middle. At that point, OU replaced starter Cade Horton with Trevin Michael.

Justin Bench greeted Michael by hitting a single to right field, moving McCants to third. From there, Jacob Gonzalez singled through the right side of the infield to score McCants, making it 2-2. Subsequently, the Rebels took the lead on a wild pitch, scoring Bench and moving Gonzalez to second.

Elko grounded out, advancing Gonzalez to third. But on yet another wild pitch, Gonzalez raced home for a 4-2 advantage.

In the ninth, Brandon Johnson closed the door on the Sooners. Johnson struck out three straight batters to start the Ole Miss celebration.

On Saturday, the Rebels got the jump on the Sooners in the CWS title round with a 10-3 victory. Their performance Sunday allowed the remarkable Rebels (42-23) to sweep the Sooners (45-24) in two straight games in the best-of-3 CWS title round.

Ole Miss entered the season ranked No. 5 nationally by D1Baseball. But by late April and early May, the Rebels were sputtering, at one point falling to 7-14 in the Southeastern Conference, which was tied for last.

Even after a surge to the end of the regular season, they barely made the 64-team NCAA tournament field. The Rebels were the last of the teams to receive an at-large bid. All that notwithstanding, Ole Miss went 10-1 in the tournament, including 6-1 in the CWS.

Records

Oklahoma 45-24
Ole Miss 42-23

Notable

In one season with Ole Miss, John Michael Gaddis finished with a 4-2 record and a save. He had a 4.20 earned run average. He struck out 49 and walked 19 in 49 and 1/3 innings. At the CWS, Gaddis pitched in two games. He gave up two home runs and took the loss in a 3-2 setback against Arkansas. Against OU in the title game, Gaddis worked 1 and 1/3 scoreless innings, walking one and striking out two.

Ole Miss routs OU, 10-3, moves to within one victory of a CWS title

The hard-hitting Ole Miss Rebels slugged four home runs Saturday night to rout the Oklahoma Sooners 10-3 in the first game of a best-of-3 for the College World Series baseball title. The Rebels also blasted out two doubles in a 16-hit attack.

In a pivotal top of the eighth inning, Oklahoma was in the field, and the Sooners had just benefited from an umpire’s decision that went to replay. Ole Miss’ Peyton Chatagnier attempted to take third base on the front end of a double steal. Initially, he was called safe. But after review, the call was reversed.

OU fans were delighted. With two out and an Ole Miss runner at second, the Sooners had a chance to escape trouble. But that’s when real trouble arrived in the form of three straight home runs by the Rebels. First, it was TJ McCants slugging a two-run blast to right. Next, it was Calvin Harris, with a solo shot. Finally, Justin Bench hit another solo homer.

All of a sudden, it was 8-2, and Ole Miss was on its way. The Rebels can wrap up the national title with a victory on Sunday. If necessary, a third and deciding game to determine the national champion in NCAA Division I baseball would be played on Monday.

Ole Miss got off to a fast start, scoring two runs in the first, one in the second and one in the third. A solo homer by Tim Elko lifted the Rebels into a 4-0 lead in the top of the third inning.

In retaliation, Oklahoma scored twice in the bottom of the sixth against Ole Miss starter Jake Dougherty.

Jackson Nicklaus led off with a single and Sebastian Orduno followed with a sharp single to right. Next man up, Kendall Pettis, dropped a bunt that was fielded by third baseman Garrett Wood, whose throw to first base was wild and late. Ole Miss had the play backed up but a throw home was late, and Nicklaus scored the first run for the Sooners.

When Dougherty walked John Spikerman, that was it for Dougherty. He was lifted for Mason Nichols, who put out the fire. The freshman struck out a pair of OU hitters and then walked one, forcing in a run to make it 4-2. From there, he got Jimmy Crooks on a come backer, and the Rebels escaped what could have been a very big inning for the Sooners.

Records

Ole Miss 41-23
Oklahoma 45-23

Notable

The CWS is being played at Omaha, Nebraska. Oklahoma won its bracket by beating Texas A&M, 13-8, before downing Notre Dame, 6-2. Advancing to the semifinals, the Sooners beat the Aggies again, 5-1, to make the finals. Ole Miss, in winning its bracket, beat Auburn, 5-1. Then it knocked off Arkansas, 13-5. In the semifinals, Arkansas edged Ole Miss, 3-2. But the Rebels rebounded to beat the Razorbacks, 2-0, to make the finals.

The coaches

Mike Bianco is the Ole Miss coach. Bianco has been at Ole Miss since 2000. This is his second trip to the CWS after making it in 2014. Skip Johnson is the coach at OU. Johnson’s first year in Norman was 2018. This is his first trip to the CWS as a head coach. Johnson was pitching coach under the late Augie Garrido at Texas for 10 seasons.

Ole Miss shuts out Arkansas, 2-0, advances to CWS title round

Tied for last place in the Southeastern Conference standings in early May, the Ole Miss Rebels hardly seemed worthy of the NCAA tournament, much less the championship round of the College World Series.

Ole Miss players and coaches weren’t listening to their critics then, and they certainly aren’t paying too much attention to them now.

The Rebels are headed for the CWS title round after a 2-0 victory Thursday against the Arkansas Razorbacks.

They’ll meet the Oklahoma Sooners in a best-of-three series for the national title starting Saturday in Omaha, Neb.

In a winner-take-all, CWS semifinal for a chance to play in title series, Dylan DeLucia pitched a nine-inning gem, blanking the Razorbacks on four hits.

DeLucia struck out seven and walked none.

Trailing by two runs, the Razorbacks had a chance to do some damage in the bottom of the seventh but couldn’t score.

Robert Moore reached base with a two-out, infield single. San Antonio’s Jalen Battles kept it going when he hit a ball toward the middle that was misplayed by Ole Miss shortstop Jacob Gonzalez.

At that point, Moore was at second base, and Battles was standing on first on a play that was scored as an error on Gonzalez.

Brady Slavens, who hit a long home run in Arkansas’ 3-2 victory over Ole Miss on Wednesday afternoon, stepped to the plate. But he grounded out to second base to end the inning and the threat.

Ole Miss took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on Kevin Graham’s RBI double. The Rebels made it 2-0 in the seventh on Calvin Harris’ run-scoring single.

While DeLucia (8-2) earned the victory, Arkansas ace Connor Noland (8-6) took the loss.

Noland worked eight innings. He yieded two runs, both earned, on seven hits. Noland was sharp with his control, walking none while fanning seven.

Coming up

CWS championship round (Oklahoma vs. Ole Miss, best of three)
Saturday — 6 p.m.
Sunday — 2 p.m.
Monday — 6 p.m. (if necessary)

Records

Oklahoma 45-22
Ole Miss 40-23

Notable

In early May, Ole Miss was 7-14 in the SEC and was in danger of missing the conference’s postseason tournament. From there, the team started to click and won eight of 11 games. It was good enough for a spot in the NCAA tournament as the last at-large team selected.

Once they made the NCAA postseason, the Rebels got hot. They clicked off wins against Arizona and Miami and then Arizona again to win the Coral Gables regional. On the road again in the Super Regionals, they won two straight — both by shutout — at Southern Miss, the Conference USA champion, in Hattiesburg.

In all, they had strung together five straight wins leading into the CWS.

Ole Miss continued to play well in Omaha. DeLucia got the victory in a 5-1 victory over Auburn. Freshman left-handed pitcher Hunter Elliott followed by leading the Rebels in an 13-5 victory over Arkansas. In the semifinals, the Rebels met the Razorbacks again. Arkansas won the first game, 3-2, but Ole Miss responded with DeLucia going the distance in the 2-0 shutout.

Ole Miss has two Texans on its roster. One is pitcher John Gaddis, from Corpus Christi’s Calallen High School. The other is infielder Peyton Chatagnier from Cy-Fair High School in the Houston area.

Arkansas holds off Ole Miss, 3-2, to stay in the CWS title hunt

Arkansas junior Zack Morris, pitching in relief in a harrowing ninth inning, shut down an Ole Miss rally Wednesday night as the Razorbacks held on to beat the Rebels 3-2 at the College World Series.

“Everyone in the dugout had faith in him,” Arkansas starting pitcher Hagen Smith said in a post-game interview with reporters on-site in Omaha, Neb. “Nerves were high. But we knew he was going to get out of it.”

By claiming the victory, the Razorbacks forced a deciding game Thursday against the Rebels, with the winner advancing to play the Oklahoma Sooners in the championship round.

The best-of-three championship round will start on Saturday night. Earlier Wednesday, Oklahoma earned the right to play for the title by beating the Texas A&M Aggies.

In the night game, the Razorbacks took a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth, only to see the Rebels open the frame by loading the bases with a single and two straight batters hit by pitch.

Morris entered the game in relief at that juncture and struck out Hayden Leatherwood.

The next batter, TJ McCants, flied out. One out away from a loss, the Rebels found life when Justin Bench’s RBI single drove in a run.

The ball was hit into the hole between third and short. Gliding toward his right, Arkansas shortstop Jalen Battles gloved it and kept it from going into the outfield, which likely prevented a second run — the tying run — from scoring.

At the same time, the San Antonio Madison High School alumnus had no other play to make after fielding the ball, and so the bases remained loaded.

Ole Miss’ Jacob Gonzalez was up next, with the game hanging in the balance. Arkansas was one out away from winning, but it also remained a possibility that a two-run single could end its season.

Gonzalez swung and struck the ball well. Slicing into left field, it was caught by Zack Gregory for the last out.

“Zack (Morris) has been clutch for us all year,” Arkansas designated hitter Brady Slavens said. “He’s done a great job. We all had faith in him. We all had belief in him. You know, he didn’t have the best start the other day. But he came out and proved himself tonight.”

With the teams tied in the early innings, Slavens’ 436-foot solo home run to center field in the top of the fifth staked Arkansas to a 2-1 lead.

“I guess I was just looking for a fastball over the plate,” Slavens said. “Luckily I got it. It might be the farthest home run I’ve ever hit. I don’t know. Not sure.”

In the deciding game, Ole Miss is expected to start ace Dylan DeLucia, who beat Auburn on the second day of the tournament last Saturday.

“We’re going to have to really fight,” Slavens said. “It’s going to take all of us to win.”

Oklahoma wins 5-1 to oust Texas A&M from the College World Series

The Oklahoma Sooners advanced to the championship round of the College World Series Wednesday afternoon with a 5-1 victory over the Texas A&M Aggies in Omaha, Neb.

Jimmy Crooks helped the Sooners start fast by belting a three-run homer in the first inning. After that, right-handed pitcher David Sandlin dominated the Aggies, ousting them from the CWS with a powerful seven-inning performance.

Sandlin yielded only a run on five hits and struck out 12. The only run for A&M came in the sixth on a solo homer by former UTSA standout Dylan Rock.

It wasn’t nearly enough for the Aggies, as the Sooners moved on to the title round. Oklahoma will play either Ole Miss or Arkansas on Sunday to open a best-of-three set for the national title.

A&M will transition into the offseason coming off perhaps the best season in school history. In coach Jim Schlossnagle’s first year as coach, A&M finished 44-20.

The Aggies picked up momentum during Southeastern Conference play, claiming consecutive series victories over Kentucky, Georgia, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Mississippi State and Ole Miss.

Entering the NCAA tournament as the No. 5 overall seed, the Aggies won the College Station regional when they swept to three straight victories, knocking off Oral Roberts, Louisiana and TCU.

In the Super Regionals, also played in College Station, A&M claimed a pair of one-run victories over the Louisville Cardinals to take a five-game winning streak into the CWS.

The streak ended last Friday on opening day in Omaha, as the Sooners knocked out Aggies’ starter Nathan Dettmer early in a 13-8 victory.

Undeterred, A&M moved into the losers bracket and domintated Texas 10-2 before beating Notre Dame 5-1.

Against the Irish, Dettmer, from San Antonio’s Johnson High School, pitched seven shutout innings in the historic win, as it was the first time in school history that the Aggies had won two games in one CWS.

The win sent them to the semifinals, where they needed two straight victories over the Sooners to advance. Sandlin and the OU bullpen just didn’t let it happen. The Sooners limited the Aggies to only six hits.

A&M outfielder Jordan Thompson, a junior from Boerne Champion, enjoyed a standout CWS. In four games, he finished four for 10 at the plate with five RBIs. He also walked four times and stole two bases.

The Sooners didn’t let Thompson get going on Wednesday, though, as they held him hitless in three at bats.

Dettmer pitches Texas A&M into the semifinals at the College World Series

The Texas A&M Aggies will play another day in Omaha at the College World Series, thanks in large part to San Antonio’s Nathan Dettmer.

Dettmer started and pitched seven scoreless innings Tuesday as A&M eliminated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 5-1.

As a result, the Aggies will move into the semifinals of the CWS to meet the Oklahoma Sooners. The Sooners and Aggies will play at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

OU can advance to the championship round with a victory. The Aggies will need to win twice against the Sooners to play for the national title.

The Sooners (2-0 in the CWS) beat the Aggies (2-1) by a 13-8 score last Friday in the tournament opener.

Against OU, Dettmer started but didn’t make it through the second inning.

Even though he has struggled over the past five weeks, he settled down and pitched his best game of the season against the Irish.

The 6-foot-4, righthander, who played in high school at San Antonio Johnson, allowed only three hits, did not walk a batter and struck out six.

“I’m feeling great right now,” Dettmer told Michella Chester, a reporter for NCAA Digital. “It’s a great relief to have such success on … one of the greatest baseball stages in the world. It felt great.”

For Dettmer, it was quite a change of fortune. Over his last seven starts, he had pitched 20 innnings, yielding 33 hits and 28 earned runs.

Against OU, Dettmer was pulled after 1 and 2/3 innings. The Sooners had roughed him up badly. He was charged with giving up seven earned runs.

Chester asked Dettmer, “What turned it around?”

“I trusted myself,” he said. “All I had to do was believe in myself. My teammates believed in me. My coaches believed in me. I just had to believe in myself.

“It was all up here,” he added, pointing to his head.

“I just did it today. It was me and (catcher) Troy (Claunch) working the whole time. It felt great.”

What was working for him?

“Honestly, everything. I don’t want to seem cocky. But I felt like I could throw any pitch in any count. Just to have that confidence and to have my catcher working with me, it felt amazing.”

Dettmer said it felt good that coach Jim Schlossnagle would turn to him at such an important juncture in the season.

“To feel that confidence — I really felt it,” he said. “It showed up. It worked.”

Chester asked Dettmer about the days in the aftermath of his last start and what he was experiencing.

“It felt like forever,” he said. “That one game, when I got pulled, it felt like a 20-inning game. I felt so small. But (for the coach) to have that confidence (in me) it felt amazing.”

Notable

The Aggies have won multiple games at a College World Series for the first time in seven trips, according to the school’s website. Their two victories (over Texas and Notre Dame) matches their total from the program’s previous six trips to Omaha.

A&M capitalized on Notre Dame mistakes, including a balk and a throwing error, to take a 3-0 lead in the third inning. In the fifth inning, a Trevor Werner leadoff homer highlighted a two-run rally as the Aggies opened a 5-0 lead.

Jordan Thompson, a Texas A&M junior from Boerne Champion, reached base twice on a walk and a hit against the Irish, increasing his on-base total in three CWS games to nine.

Against Notre Dame, he went 1 for 3 and scored a run. He was 2 for 2 and scored twice and drove in two runs in a 10-2 victory over Texas on Sunday. Thompson was 1 for 2 and clubbed a three-run homer in the Aggies’ 13-8 loss to OU last Friday.

Coming up

Wednesday — (CWS semifinals) Texas A&M (2-1) vs. Oklahoma (2-0). Also, Arkansas (2-1) vs. Ole Miss (2-0). To advance to the title round, both Oklahoma and Ole Miss can advance with a single victory, while both A&M and Arkansas need to win twice.

Former Champion standout sparks A&M’s offense at the College World Series

A former standout at Boerne Champion High School leads the Texas A&M Aggies in runs batted in through two games at the College World Series. In his first trip to Omaha, Jordan Thompson has rung up five RBIs, and that only tells part of the story.

Jordan Thompson playing for the Flying Chanclas de San Antonio during the 2020 Texas Collegiate League season. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jordan Thompson played locally for Boerne Champion High School and for the 2020 Flying Chanclas de San Antonio. — Photo by Joe Alexander

Pitchers facing the A&M sparkplug near the bottom of the batting order simply can’t get him out. Combining his performances in an opening loss to Oklahoma and a victory over Texas, the 6-foot, 175-pound firebrand has been on base seven times.

As the Aggies prepare to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Tuesday in Omaha, with both teams 1-1 and facing elimination, the season for Thompson and his teammates could hinge, at least in part, on whether they can stay committed to the team’s approach on offense.

In other words, don’t try to be a hero and inadvertantly swing at pitches out of the strike zone. Try to work the opponent into a hitter’s count. Thompson described the team’s approach after A&M’s 10-2 victory over Texas on Sunday.

“Me and my teammates have had the same approach all season,” he said in a video posted on A&M’s website. “We just keep going, one pitch at a time. If we get a hit, great. If we don’t, (try to) put a lot of pitches on the pitcher. Make him make pitches, and just pass the bat along to the guy behind you and have trust in them.”

Thompson’s showing in the CWS thus far epitomizes his own commitment to the team concept.

Not only has he stroked three hits in two games, including a three-run home run in a 13-8 loss to Oklahoma last Friday, he has been hit by a pitch once and has walked three times. Against Texas, Thompson reached base at a 100-percent clip — four for four.

In the second inning, he stroked an RBI single and later scored. In the decisive four-run fourth, he opened it with a double and, once again, ended up scoring. Coming up again in the fifth, Thompson walked and was erased on a force play. Later, in the seventh, he walked again.

With two out, he took first base, putting runners at the corners against UT reliever Zane Morehouse. The Aggies promptly turned it into a double steal and a run, with Thompson taking second and Ryan Targac coming home to make it 9-2.

For the fans, it wasn’t like the electicity-inducing, three-run homer Thompson delivered early against Oklahoma. But it was just the type of thing a teams needs if it wants to stay alive in the NCAA tournament at this point in the season.

Boerne state of mind: A&M’s Thompson, UT’s Hodo to play in the College World Series

The San Antonio area and the state of Texas will be represented in both games on opening day of the College World Series. Oklahoma will take on the Texas A&M Aggies on Friday at 1 p.m., followed in the night game by the Texas Longhorns against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at 6.

Expected starters in the center field for both the Aggies and the Longhorns are names familiar to fans in Boerne, a baseball hotbed north of San Antonio.

Jordan Thompson, a former standout with the Boerne Champion High School Chargers, plays center for the Aggies. Douglas Hodo III, formerly of the Boerne High Greyhounds, patrols center and bats leadoff for the Longhorns.

On Saturday, former San Antonio Madison High School multi-sport standout Jalen Battles is expected to start at shortstop for the Arkansas Razorbacks. Stanford will meet Arkansas in the first game at 1 p.m. In the 6 p.m. slot, Ole Miss will take on Auburn.

Both Thompson and Battles were teammates in 2020 for the Flying Chanclas de San Antonio. The Chanclas played that summer in the Texas Collegiate League. They were a team made up largely of players from the San Antonio area looking to stay sharp in the first summer of the Covid-19 pandemic.

For Hodo, it is his second straight trip to the CWS. Last year, he played right field for the Longhorns, who finished with a 3-2 record and in a tie for third place in the tournament. This season, Hodo hit for a .319 average, with 25 doubles and 10 home runs. Both Thompson (.245) and Battles (.293) are making their CWS debuts.

Besides Thompson, Texas A&M will have another San Antonio connection in left fielder Dylan Rock, who played four seasons for the UTSA Roadrunners through 2021 before transferring to play as a grad student this year under first-year A&M coach Jim Schlossnagle. Rock has been a mainstay in the middle of the Aggies’ lineup, hitting .332 with 18 home runs.

College World Series
Friday through June 26, at Charles Schwab Stadium, in Omaha, Nebraska.

Friday’s schedule

Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M, 1 p.m.
Texas vs. Notre Dame, 6 p.m.

Saturday’s schedule

Stanford vs. Arkansas, 1 p.m.
Ole Miss vs. Auburn, 6 p.m.

San Antonio ties

Players from the San Antonio area on rosters of teams that have clinched berths in the College World Series:

Texas A&M

Rody Barker, OF-C, graduate transfer from Kerrville Tivy, New Mexico Junior College. Barker played eight games and batted .200.

Nathan Dettmer, pitcher, sophomore from Johnson. Dettmer has appeared in 17 games, all starts. He has fashioned a 5-2 record, with a 4.75 ERA.

Alex Magers, pitcher, sophomore from D’Hanis. Magers has appeared in eight games, all out of the bullpen. He has a 5.59 ERA.

Austin Stracener, INF, freshman from New Braunfels Canyon. Stracener played in six games. He hit .250.

Jordan Thompson, OF, junior from Boerne Champion, Incarnate Word, Grayson College. Thompson hit .245 in 43 games. He delivered five home runs and 26 RBIs. With a starter’s role in the playoffs, Thompson has belted two home runs.

Texas

Douglas Hodo III, center field, a redshirt sophomore from Boerne. Hodo played 67 games and hit .319. A power threat, he also contributed 10 home runs and 25 doubles.

Travis Sthele, pitcher, redshirt freshman from Reagan. Sthele made 21 appearances and started three games. In fashioning a 3-1 record and a 6.03 ERA, he struck out 32 and walked 19 in 34 and 1/3 innings.

Sam Walbridge, pitcher, redshirt sophomore from Saint Mary’s Hall. Walbridge has made three appearances, pitching 1 and 1/3 innings with a 0.00 ERA.

Arkansas

Jalen Battles, shortstop, a senior from Madison High School, McLennan Community College. Battles has started for two straight years, narrowly missing out on the CWS last year when his No. 1-ranked teammates lost in the super regionls. He is a .293 hitter with 10 homers and 44 RBI.

Stanford rallies in the ninth inning to end Texas State’s season

Texas State relief pitcher Tristan Stivors, a senior from Medina Valley High School, pitching against UTSA at Roadrunner Field on Tuesday, April 26, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

Tristan Stivors, Texas State’s All-American closer, started and pitched seven innings against Stanford. He gave up one run in a masterful performance, only to see his team let a late lead slip away. Here, he is shown pitching on April 26 at UTSA. – Photo by Joe Alexander

A record-breaking baseball season for the Texas State Bobcats came to a heartbreaking end Monday night in California. Leading by two runs going into the bottom of the ninth inning, the Bobcats couldn’t hold on.

The home-team Stanford Cardinal scored three runs in their last at-bat and escaped with a 4-3 victory to claim the championship of the NCAA tournament’s Stanford regional.

Stanford coach David Esquer called it a “miracle” finish. Texas State coach Steven Trout said he thought it was “an unreal” game.

“Last game of regionals, we pushed it to the brink,” Trout told reporters at the game site in Palo Alto, Calif. “Obviously thought we had it, going up 3-1. I mean, you got to tip your hat. They took some great swings in some big moments … That’s why they’re the No. 2 team in the country.

“Just couldn’t be more proud of my guys.”

With the victory, Stanford (45-15) advanced to the Super Regionals. The Cardinal, the No. 2 seed in the 64-team NCAA field, will host the Connecticut Huskies this weekend in a best-of-three series.

The Bobcats (47-14) likely will lament the lost opportunity for some time.

Texas State, frustrated with an inability to hit with runners on base for most of the evening, finally put it together in the top of the ninth.

They broke a tie and took a 3-1 lead when Wesley Faison ripped a two-run single off Stanford reliever Braden Montgomery.

Moving to the bottom of the ninth, they were three outs away from their first regional title and their first Super Regional, which would have been held on their home field in San Marcos.

But just as their vocal fans in attendance started to think about winning on the home field of one of the nation’s most storied programs, the lead slipped away. Stanford sophomore Drew Bowser opened the inning with a solo homer to left field.

Duly inspired, sophomore Tommy Troy followed with another solo blast, this one to deep center. Centerfielder Isaiah Ortega-Jones leaped for the ball, but couldn’t reach it. Just like that, the Cardinal had tied the game, 3-3.

At that point, Texas State pulled reliever Zeke Wood, who gave up both homers. Levi Wells entered to try and put out the fire, only to have Eddie Park greet him with a single — his fourth hit of the night.

Park moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt, which prompted Texas State to walk Brock Jones intentionally. With runners at first and second, a double play could have ended the inning. But it wasn’t to be.

As freshman Trevor Haskins entered the game as a pinch-hitter, Wells threw a wild pitch, allowing runners to move up to second and third. Wells appeared to hang a slider, and Haskins stroked it to left for a single, which scored Park with the winning run.

“A lot of respect for Texas State,” Stanford coach David Esquer said. “What a quality team. Obviously it went right down to the very end. They were unbelievably good and tough on us. We had to dig down deep for a miracle there at the end.”

Records

Texas State 47-14
Stanford 45-15

Notable

Texas State finished with a school-record 47 victories and won the regular-season title in the Sun Belt Conference.

The Bobcats entered the NCAA tournament ranked second in the Stanford regional and opened Friday with a 7-3 victory over UC Santa Barbara. They followed Saturday night by matching up against the home team and claiming a 5-2 victory, which snapped a 17-game winning streak by the Cardinal.

Not only was it the first 2-0 start for the Bobcats in a regional, it put them in position to close out with the regional title on Sunday night.

Stanford didn’t let that happen. The Cardinal won an elimination game against UC Santa Barbara, 8-4, on Sunday afternoon. A few hours later, they took on Texas State for the second straight night and won — again by an 8-4 score.

In the winner-take-all game Monday, Trout flipped the script with his pitching. He elected to start All-American closer Tristan Stivors, who responded with a dazzling performance.

Stivors, a senior from San Antonio-area Medina Valley High School, toiled for seven innings and held the powerful Cardinal in check. In a 101-pitch drama, he gave up one run on eight hits. Stivors struck out nine and walked one.

Trout said he was looking for two or three innings from Stivors, who led the nation with 18 saves this year.

“For us, it was mainly, just get off to a good start, whatever that looked like,” Trout said. “You know, just kind of watch his stuff and how they reacted to it. He just kept pounding it in there. When we finally got out (to see him) in the seventh, he was losing a little bit (of his stuff), and I was going to pull him for the lefty, and he looked at me and said, ‘Don’t take me out.’ That’s just who he is.

“I hope the kid pitches in the big leagues, because he has the stuff, he has the guts to do it.”

While Stivors was making big pitches, a cadre of Cardinal pitchers were doing the same. Texas State finished the game with 10 hits but left 11 runners stranded. With runners on base, the Bobcats were 4 for 20. With runners in scoring position, they were 2 for 13.

Stanford used six pitchers on the night.

Joey Dixon started, followed by Max Meier, Drew Dowd, Ryan Bruno, Braden Montgomery and Brandt Pancer.

“I’m so proud of that pitching staff,” Esquer said. “Drew Dowd, who went as long as anybody, 2 and 1/3 (innings). From Dixon to Meier to Bruno, who pitched for the third day in a row. Montgomery, we pull (him) out of right field. What a lot to ask of him, to go two innings for the first time in a long time.

“No blame on what he did for us. And then Brandt Pancer obviously coming in, and getting that last out in the ninth. Just proud of this team.”