Kruse ties school record, but Jags fall
Chad Kruse didn't have to make many adjustments after transferring from Sam Houston State to the University of Houston-Victoria.
Kruse played for the Victoria Generals over the summer, and wasted no time picking up where he left off at Riverside Stadium.
Kruse tied a school record with five hits, but it wasn't enough as the Jaguars dropped a 4-3 decision to Texas A&M-Kingsville in 11 innings in their home opener on a cold Saturday.
"I played in Victoria this summer and I loved the area," Kruse said. "Coach (Terry) Puhl is a good coach and I decided to come down here."
Kruse had four singles and a double to tie the record set by Jon McDonald in 2008.
"It just kind of clicked tonight and I found some holes," Kruse said. "But it's only sweet if you win."
Kruse started at shortstop and raised his averaged to a team-leading .471.
"He swung the bat very well," Puhl said. "He's seeing the ball. He's just a great addition to our club. He comes with a great attitude and he understands the game so it's nice to have his experience."
UHV (3-4) outhit the Javelinas (3-1) 12-6, but left 11 runners on base, including six in scoring position.
The Jaguars took a 3-0 lead to the ninth inning behind the one-hit pitching of Creighton Hoke.
The senior had nine strikeouts and had not allowed a hit since Cameron Dullnig's two-out single in the first.
"That guy's got a great arm," said A&M-Kingsville coach Jason Gonzales. "He kept us off-balance. Our hats are off to him. He really threw a gem."
But A&M-Kingsville's Ben Villafuerta led off the ninth with a single and Puhl replaced Hoke with closer Nick Huff.
"I'm taking no chances," Puhl said of Hoke, who had thrown 108 pitches. "They get up around 100 pitches and we're taking it at-bat to at-bat."
Huff had two saves in the Jaguars' season-opening series with the University of Texas-Brownsville and was named the Association of Independent Institutions player of the week.
But the Javelinas (3-1) reached him for two hits in the ninth, including a two-run double by Jake Mendiola that tied the game.
Mendiola's two-out single in the 11th off Huff brought home Justin Aguilar, who had stolen second base, with the winning run.
"I'm proud of them because they fought," Gonzales said. "I'll take a group of guys that can overcome adversity as opposed to playing from the winning side of it. I'm happy they won, but I'm proud of the way they fought."
The Jaguars had a chance to win the game in the 10th, but Kruse was thrown out at the plate after trying to score from second on a groundout to second by Tyler Steiner.
"I've got to learn my coach's signals," Kruse said. "That was definitely on me. I saw him point and I thought he meant to go home, but in hindsight he meant the first baseman has it."
The Jaguars had runners on first and third with one out in the 11th, but were unable to score.
"It was a great ballgame," Puhl said. "Both sides played well. That's what collegiate baseball is all about, playing good baseball and we'll go on from here.
"It's early in the season and you had good pitching on both sides, and good defense. It is a tough loss but we'll bounce back."
TAMUK 000 000 003 01 - 4 6 1
UHV 002 000 010 00 - 3 12 2
Dallas Ponder, Adam Aspaas (4), Cameron Dullnig (10) and Jake Mendiola. Creighton Hoke, Nick Huff (9) and Josh Ledesma. W: Dullnig (1-0). L: Huff (0-1). 2B: (TAMU) Jake Mendiola; (UHV) Chad Kruse. Records: TAMUK 3-1; UHV 3-4.