UTRGV downs No. 16 Oklahoma State behind stellar pitching trio

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EDINBURG — Vaqueros starting pitcher Trevelle Hill set the tone for a strong pitching day and two innings of cohesive offense were enough for UTRGV to down No. 16 Oklahoma State on Saturday afternoon.

The Vaqueros (1-1) held on to a slim lead for nine innings for a 5-2 victory and leveled the series with the Big 12’s Cowboys (1-1).

UTRGV’s win is the first over OSU since the 2014 season as the Broncs.

After Coleman Grubbs and Anthony Gomez both drove in runs in the first inning to give the Vaqueros an early 2-0 lead, UTRGV was threatening again in the second inning.

Former Edinburg Vela standout Aaron Galvan drew a walk in his first collegiate at-bat before Oregon State transfer Andy Atwood hit a line drive over the left-field wall for a two-run home run.

“We knew we had to make an adjustment, it mainly had to come on pitching, catching and hitting the ball with two strikes,” UTRGV shortstop Atwood said. “I was just happy for the opportunity, happy to get the pitch I was looking for and did something with it. It happened to make a difference in the game and I’m happy we were able to capitalize on the opportunity.”

After UTRGV took the 4-0 lead, the pitching performance continued to stifle and frustrate Cowboys hitters. The Vaqueros collected16 strikeouts, Hill had seven.

“My mental approach was just to try to keep them off balance the best that I can, locate my fastball to the best of my ability, just make it tough on them and make the defense work,” Hill said. “My bullpen, I’m not worried about them. I know they got my back and I got theirs. Gabe (Constantine is) a great guy, new to the team and (Ryan) Jackson we all know what he can do.”

Hill’s last inning was the fifth when he pitched out of a bases-loaded jam while only allowing a single run.

Constantine, a lefty from McKinney, gave OSU something new to think about. He struck out three of the five batters he faced.

“When you got a start like that from a senior, that’s got a lot of experience; it gives you a great opportunity,” UTRGV coach Derek Matlock said.

Galvan reached base safely in all four of his at-bats. He walked twice, reached on a fielder’s choice and was hit by a pitch in the helmet during the seventh inning to drive in RGV’s seventh run. The count was full in both of his walks.

“Every since I got here in the fall, coach has always talked to us about QAB, quality at-bats,” Galvan said surrounded by former Vela teammates postgame. “Really get inside the ball, produce some base runners and try to get on base as much as you can. It made an impact to me as a baseball player and it helped the team out today.”

Former McAllen Rowe pitcher Ryan Jackson brought the heat in his first outing as a senior. The once-starter-turned reliever pitched 2.1 innings and struck out six of eight hitters he faced.

“It was exciting to watch him he’s electric,” Matlock said. “Up to 93 miles per hour with an 84 slider that’s going to play in the backend of this conference, we’re excited about it.”

Matlock said the pitching was a big factor in slowing down some of the bats that went wild in Friday’s 10-3 loss.

“We punched out 16 and we walked three and you start thinking about how big of monsters (OSU has) yesterday when they’re hitting the ball all over the ballpark. When you put good guys on the mound that are commanding their fastball and throwing really good secondary pitches, you kind of equalize.”

UTRGV wraps up the series against Oklahoma State at noon today.

nmata@themonitor.com