KINGSVILLE - Tarleton State baseball trailed 6-3 in the eighth inning but scored the final four runs-including two in the ninth-for the come-from-behind 7-6 win over West Texas A&M to return to the Lone Star Conference Tournament Championship game.
The Texans, who are the defending LSC Tournament Champions, will take on Angelo State on Saturday at noon. With a double-elimination format, Tarleton State will have to beat Angelo State twice to repeat as champs.
Tarleton built a 3-2 lead heading into the seventh inning when West Texas A&M broke through with four runs in the bottom half of the seventh for what looked like a commanding 6-3 lead once they handed the ball over to first-team All-LSC closer Paul Lujan.
With two outs and Peter McMahon on first after a walk, Jonathan Schmitz launched a two-run home run to left that cut West Texas A&M's lead to 6-5. It was the first home run that Lujan has allowed in 31 innings this season.
Hunter Houston escaped a scoring threat in the eighth when the Buffs had two men on. Houston threw the final 2 2/3 innings to record his first win of the season.
In the ninth, Landon Merka doubled with one out and later scored the tying run when Matt Olive tripled after working a full count. McMahon singled to shallow center field to score Olive for the game-winning run.
WT had a runner at first with one out in the ninth, but Houston got cleanup hitter Josh Day to line into a game-ending double play to Landon Merka at second base who tossed it over to Elijah Christenson at first that doubled-up Trace Hansen.
Matt Herrick started the game on the mound for Tarleton, going six innings and allowed three runs (two earned) in the no-decision. Herrick only gave up four hits and added six strikeouts.
The Texans got on the board in the third inning on an RBI double by Evan Robinson that plated Schmitz.
In the fourth inning, Landon Merka smashed a two-run homer to left-his first of the season-to break a 1-1 tie. Merka finished the game 2-for-5 with two runs scored.
Tarleton matched a season-high with 18 hits on the game. Seven players had at least two hits and Schmitz had a game-best three hits, going 3-for-5 with two runs, two RBIs and a walk.
10 different Texans had a hit as well: Evan Robinson, 2-for-5; Zach Fleet, 2-for-4; Kevin Meredith, 2-for-5; Dalton Weeks, 2-for-3 and Elijah Christenson, 2-for-5.
This is Tarleton State's fifth finals appearance and last year was the program's first LSC Tournament Championship. The Texans improved to 21-25 with the win and have won five of their last six LSC tournament games.