EDINBURG — The Oklahoma State Cowboys and UTRGV Vaqueros tangled Friday night to kick off the NCAA baseball season for both squads.
Fans didn’t have to wait long for runs, but the large home crowd saw more OSU runs cross the plate as the No. 16 Cowboys defeated UTRGV 10-3 in the first game of the 2019 season.
The Vaqueros used a deep flyout caught by left fielder Elijah Alexander on the warning track and a scrappy inning at the plate to take a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
Three UTRGV hitters: Andy Atwood, Coleman Grubbs and Anthony Gomez all singled to give the Vaqueros their first run and first lead of the new year.
Gomez hit the RBI-single up the middle past Cowboys’ starting pitcher Elliot Jensen. The senior from Florida was the only Vaqueros player to put down multiple hits. UTRGV had six hits, three in the opening frame.
“We’re going to put in a lot of hard work,” UTRGV second basemen Gomez said. “Granted, even though they’re ranked, we got to come out and we have to compete. Coach has been on it and on it about competing and winning. Even though the score wasn’t what we wanted, I thought we competed well.”
UTRGV starting pitcher Chase Adams was a strong presence against the Cowboys. He allowed five runs on five hits but he also struck out five batters.
“Being the opening night guy was definitely one of my goals coming into the year and it was awesome pitching in front of all those people against a really good school,” Adams said.
The opening night crowd was boosted with alumni/homecoming weekend; 2,179 were on hand for the showdown against a Big 12 powerhouse.
A shutdown inning after scoring was something the Vaqueros couldn’t complete. After scoring first and getting two outs on the Cowboys in the top of the second, a wild pitch on strike three allow a run to score. The ball that got past Mercedes alumni Oliver Closer IV was one of multiple miscues that UTRGV battled.
“You just have to pat him on the back and tell him ‘Hey, it will be okay, going to be good. Just take a deep breath and focus on the next pitch,’” Adams said of the play that extended the second inning. “It’s an unfortunate thing that happens but it’s part of baseball.”
OSU designated hitter Bryce Carter led the game offensively with three hits and three RBIs. Cowboys first baseman Christian Funk hit the game’s lone home run, a solo shot, to put the advantage at 3-1 in the third inning.
OSU made four errors on the night to UTRGV’s two.
The Cowboys exploded for four runs in the fifth inning. UTRGV called for relief twice in the inning before getting out of the frame.
In the Vaqueros’ half of the fifth inning, they had a chance to close the 7-2 gap with the bases loaded and no outs. Last season’s batting average leader, Coleman Grubbs hit into a run-scoring double play but the damage done was less than enough.
“I think it was exciting. I could tell the electricity in the ballpark, especially early in the game when it was kind of a game and then we played so bad middle and late and it took the fans out of it,” UTRGV coach Derek Matlock said. “It’s exciting for the kids to play great programs.”
As the weekend series continues Matlock, a former pitcher, said that his team needs to practice patience against a team with a deep rotation and bullpen.
“They did an unbelievable job throwing secondary (pitches) for strikes,” Matlock said. “They’re a great secondary pitching staff. Anytime they threw a fastball, we hit it so we need to do a good job staying behind the ball and not getting in front of the offspeed.”
UTRGV will start Trevelle Hill in game two of the series, first pitch is set for 2 p.m. today with Sunday’s finale set for noon.