Magic number in sight: UTSA needs seven more wins to reach 40 for the season

Leyton Barry and the UTSA Roadrunners have won 33 games through the end of April. A school-record, 40-win season seems entirely possible. — File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The UTSA Roadrunners have talked openly recently about a few of their goals for the baseball season.

Namely, that they want to win a Conference USA title. That they also want to secure an NCAA tournament bid, and that they would like to make some noise when they get there, as well.

But after winning two out of three games against the UAB Blazers last weekend, another compelling possibility is also looming.

Could the Roadrunners actually reach the 40-victory plateau in a season for the first time?

Well, it certainly seems possible now. They notched victory No. 33 on Sunday with a 9-4 win over the UAB Blazers in Birmingham.

On a windy day, Leyton Barry’s two-run double highlighted a four-run fifth inning as the 25th-ranked Roadrunners beat the Blazers for the second day in a row.

With the win and a 2-1 series victory in the books, the Roadrunners (33-11) can now turn their attention to Tuesday night when they host the Sam Houston State Bearkats in non conference, and then Friday night when they host the Rice Owls in the opener of a three-game C-USA series.

Altogether, the Roadrunners have 11 games remaining in the regular season, and that’s all before they will take the field for the conference tournament, which is set for May 24-28 at Houston.

All of which means, the school record of 39 wins in a season established in both 1994 and 2008 is now in serious jeopardy, and a 40-win season is well within reach.

In addition, it’s worth mentioning that the Roadrunners already have established a certain level of excellence that will serve them well in coming years.

Last year, they challenged for the C-USA regular-season crown, won 38 games and reached the title game in the conference tournament. This year, they’ve backed it up with another strong season.

By winning two of three at Birmingham, the Roadrunners have now claimed winning records in 10 of 11 weekend series this season, with the only outlier being a rain-shortened weekend that ended in a 1-1 split of two games at Charlotte.

Their weekend in Birmingham started with a bummer.

On Friday, Blazers pitcher Brooks Walton went the nine-inning distance and scattered four hits in a 4-2 victory over the Roadrunners. On Saturday, a team scuffling near the bottom of the C-USA standings had the upper hand again for most of the day before the Roadrunners exploded for four runs in the ninth inning to win, 6-5.

On Sunday, UTSA had a much easier time of it, with UTSA generating four runs in the fifth to open up a 7-3 lead. Even though the Blazers got one run back and threatened seriously to close the gap even more, relief pitching ace Simon Miller silenced a rally in the seventh and went on to record a three-inning scoreless save.

Just about the time that Miller started to shut down the Blazers, the Rice Owls took a 3-1 lead on the first-place Dallas Baptist Patriots. It appeared that the Roadrunners, if they could hold on, could make up some ground in the regular-season title race on one of the hottest teams in the nation.

Well, the Roadrunners closed the deal. But the Patriots didn’t cooperate. They rumbled to life in the ninth inning and roared past the Owls, 4-3. In completing the three-game series sweep, the Patriots improved to 34-10 and 18-3 in the conference, a game and a half ahead of 16-4 UTSA.

How will the race go down the stretch?

Frankly, the Patriots might be tough to catch, the way they’re playing. They’ve won 14 conference games in a row, and in the coming weeks, they’ll play three-game series against Middle Tennessee State, UTSA and Western Kentucky.

The Patriots will get Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky at home, sandwiched around a trip to San Antonio May 12-14 for a date with UTSA at Roadrunner Field.

By comparison, UTSA will host Rice in a three-game stretch later this week and then Dallas Baptist the following week, before it finishes on the road at Louisiana Tech, always a difficult place to play.

Single games in non conference remain for UTSA starting Tuesday, when they host Sam Houston State, and on May 16, in a road test at Abilene Christian. After Abilene, the Roadrunners go to LA Tech, for a C-USA series scheduled May 18-20.

So, 40 wins is definitely possible. But, is it possible even before UTSA gets to Houston for the conference tournament?

It is, if you consider that the Roadrunners seem entirely capable of going 7-4 down the stretch. But what about the team’s chances on Memorial Day weekend at Houston? What about reaching the NCAA tournament?

Right now, it’s just too hard to project anything definitive about either one of those situations. In another three weeks, at the end of the regular season, the dust will clear and UTSA’s big picture forecast should be much easier for everyone to see.

For the time being, it’s probably best to just sit back and enjoy the ride.


UTSA 33-11, 16-4
UAB 14-29, 5-16

Coming up

Sam Houston State at UTSA, Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Rice at UTSA, three game series starting Friday.

UAB series glance

Friday: UAB beat UTSA, 4-2.
Saturday: UTSA beat UAB, 6-5.
Sunday: UTSA beat UAB, 9-4.

C-USA leaders

Dallas Baptist 18-3, 34-10
UTSA 16-4, 33-11
Charlotte 12-8, 22-21
Louisiana Tech 11-10, 22-23
Middle Tennessee 11-10, 22-21


Roadrunners coach Pat Hallmark was ejected after the top of the third inning Sunday, apparently for objecting to calls on balls and strikes. It was his second ejection of the season.

UTSA starting pitcher Ulises Quiroga (7-2) worked 5 and 2/3 innings and earned the victory. He gave up four runs on six hits, while walking five and striking out five. Simon Miller picked up his team-leading 10th save. Miller didn’t allow a run or a hit in three innings and lowered his earned run average to 1.10.

Lefty Carson Myers (1-5) took the loss after yielding seven runs in 4 and 1/3 innings to start the game for the Blazers.

UTSA outfielder Shane Sirdashney returned to play in his first game since April 16. Sirdashney entered as a defensive substitute in center field in the bottom of the seventh and then had two at bats. He bunted for a sacrifice on his first plate appearance and then hit an RBI single in the ninth.

Isaiah Walker, another UTSA outfielder who has missed time with an injury lately, started the game, played both right and center field and went 0 for 2 at the plate. He was also hit by a pitch.

UTSA rallies with four runs in the ninth to stun UAB, 6-5

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

UTSA slugger Antonio Valdez drilled a three-run homer to highlight a four-run uprising in the top of the ninth inning, and then relief ace Simon Miller closed the door in the bottom half Saturday afternoon as the 25th-ranked Roadrunners downed the UAB Blazers, 6-5, in Birmingham.

With the victory, UTSA evened the three-game Conference USA series at one victory apiece. The finale is set for Sunday at noon.

UTSA’s Leyton Barry led off the game with a solo homer. It was his second homer in two days in Birmingham. Later in the inning, Josh Killeen ripped a run-scoring single, lifting the Roadrunners into an early 2-0 lead.

In response, UAB rallied for three runs in the bottom of the second, before adding single runs in the fourth and the fifth innings for a 5-2 lead. Darryl Buggs led the Blazers with four hits, including a home run and a double.

Trailing by three runs going into the top of the ninth, UTSA called on pinch-hitter Clark Henry, who drew a leadoff walk from Tyler O’Clair.

At that point, UAB elected to take out O’Clair, who had been effective in four plus innings of work.

Blazers reliever John Luke Martin promptly walked Barry, putting runners at first and second, and UTSA’s Taylor Smith followed with a single up the middle, which loaded the bases.

Caleb Hill brought in the first run with a sacrifice fly to deep left, trimming the UAB lead to 5-3. Then, with two runners still aboard, Valdez hit a 2-1 pitch off of Martin for a three-run blast, giving UTSA a one-run cushion. It was the ninth homer of the season for Valdez.

Given a one-run lead, UTSA coaches brought in Miller, one of the top relief pitchers in the nation.

Miller retired the first batter of the inning, Tyler Waugh, on a ground ball. From there, however, things got interesting as Christian Hall doubled into the gap in right center.

Brayton Brown, who had two doubles on the day, grounded to shortstop for the second out and moved Hall over to third base.

Henry Hunter, the potential winning run, stepped to the plate and flied out to center to end it. For Miller, it was his ninth save of the season.

For UTSA, it was the team’s second victory of the week after trailing going into the ninth inning. On Tuesday, playing at home, the Roadrunners rallied with three runs in the bottom of the ninth to beat Houston Christian, 9-8, in non-conference play.


UTSA 32-11, 15-4
UAB 14-28, 5-15

Coming up

UTSA at UAB, Sunday at noon
Sam Houston State at UTSA, Tuesday at 6 p.m.

C-USA leaders

Dallas Baptist 17-3, 33-10
UTSA 15-4, 32-11
Charlotte 12-7, 22-20
Middle Tennessee 11-9, 22-20
Louisiana Tech 10-10, 21-23


The 19th-ranked Dallas Baptist Patriots have won the first two games of a series against the Rice Owls, pushing their lead over the Roadrunners to one and a half games. The Patriots (17-3 in conference, 33-10 overall) won 8-6 in 12 innings and 10-3 at Rice’s Reckling Park in Houston.

Playing in Birmingham, the Roadrunners (15-4, 32-11) were defeated by the UAB Blazers 4-2 on Friday night and then bounced back to beat the Blazers 6-5 on Saturday. Meanwhile, the third-place Charlotte 49ers (12-7, 22-20) have lost twice at Western Kentucky and fourth-place Middle Tennessee (11-9, 22-20) has split a pair at home with the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.

UAB Blazers shut down UTSA 4-2 in opener of three-game series

Backing the strong pitching of Brooks Walton, Logan Braunschweig delivered a two-run single in a four-run fourth inning Friday night as the UAB Blazers downed the 25th-ranked UTSA Roadrunners 4-2 in Conference USA baseball.

Walton went the nine-inning distance, yielding only four hits. Two were solo home runs by Leyton Barry and Caleb Hill. The 6-foot-5 righthander struck out three and walked three.


UTSA 31-11, 14-4
UAB 14-27, 5-14

C-USA leaders

Dallas Baptist 15-3
UTSA 14-4
Charlotte 12-6

Coming up

UTSA at UAB, Saturday and Sunday, at noon each day.


The Rice Owls were leading the first-place Dallas Baptist Patriots 5-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning at Houston when officials announced a weather delay and later said the game would be suspended for the night and completed on Saturday. The re-start is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at Reckling Park, with the second game of the series to follow. Meanwhile, Western Kentucky defeated third-place Charlotte, 8-4.

UTSA set to open a three-game road series at UAB

Locked into a race for the Conference USA baseball title, UTSA Roadrunners open a three-game series on the road Friday against the UAB Blazers.

The Dallas Baptist Patriots (15-3) lead the C-USA standings by percentage points over the Roadrunners (14-3), with the Charlotte 49ers (12-5) also in the picture.

In other series involving C-USA title contenders this weekend, the Patriots play three games in Houston against the Rice Owls, while the 49ers play three on the road in Bowling Green against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.

Dallas Baptist had its 14-game winning streak snapped Tuesday night in an 8-6 loss at TCU but remains as the top team in the Ratings Percentage Index at No. 15 nationally.

UTSA, coming off a 9-8 home victory over Houston Christian, is 42nd in the RPI. Charlotte is 63rd.

In media polls published Monday, UTSA remained in the top 25 for the second straight week. The Roadrunners were listed at No. 23 in Baseball America and No. 25 by DI Baseball. The Patriots are 19th in both polls.


UTSA 31-10, 14-3
UAB 13-27, 4-14

C-USA leaders

Dallas Baptist 15-3
UTSA 14-3
Charlotte 12-5

Coming up

UTSA at UAB, Saturday and Sunday, at noon each day.

UTSA rallies with three runs in the ninth to beat Houston Christian, 9-8

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The 23rd-ranked UTSA Roadrunners rallied with three runs in the bottom of the ninth Tuesday night to defeat the Houston Christian Huskies, 9-8.

The game was tied with two out when UTSA’s Matt King stepped to the plate with bases loaded against Houston Christian reliever Javan Smitherman. King was hit by a pitch to force in the winning run.

At one point in the game, the Roadrunners trailed 6-0 on their home field and appeared to be on the way to back-to-back losses.

Undeterred, they scored three runs in the third inning, one in the fourth, twice in the seventh and three times in the ninth to claim their 31st victory of the season.

With UTSA down 8-6 going into its last at bat, Leyton Barry opened the ninth inning with a triple off Smitherman. The HCU righthander promptly steadied himself and retired the next two batters, getting Taylor Smith to foul out and Antonio Valdez to ground back to the mound.

Needing one more out to nail down what would have been one of Houston Christian’s best victories of the season, Smitherman couldn’t get it. Josh Killeen doubled to drive in Barry, trimming the lead to 8-7.

Smitherman promptly walked Caleb Hill on four pitches and then was tagged for an RBI single by Sammy Diaz. While Killeen scored, Hill advanced to third. Freshman Garrett Brooks then drew a walk to load the bases, setting the stage for the game winner.

For UTSA, Killeen had two hits and three RBIs. Hill had three hits and two RBIs. Ryan Beaird pitched the final 1 and 1/3 innings to earn the victory.

Reed Chumley had four hits for HCU and belted a two-run homer. Also for the visitors, outfielder Damian Ruiz had three hits and threw out a runner at the plate to choke off a seventh-inning rally.

With one out in the seventh, Caleb Hill tripled to left center field to drive in two runs, trimming the HCU lead to 8-6. On the next play, Diaz flied out to Ruiz, who threw from right field to the plate cut down Hill for the last out.

UTSA entered the game ranked in the national top 25 for the second week in a row and for the third time this month. This week, the Roadrunners were 23rd by Baseball America and 25th by D1 Baseball.


Houston Christian 8-28
UTSA 31-10

Coming up

UTSA at UAB, three-game series starting Friday.

Perez, Carpio power the FIU Panthers past the 22nd-ranked UTSA Roadrunners, 6-1

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Noel Perez hit a home run and started a key double play from third base Sunday for the FIU Panthers, who claimed a 6-1 victory in Miami and knocked the 22nd-ranked UTSA Roadrunners out of first place in Conference USA.

In the finale of a C-USA series, Ruben Carpio added a solo homer as the Panthers bounced back from two losses to the Roadrunners. UTSA won 22-8 on Friday night and then hung on to claim a 9-8 victory in a game that started Saturday and ended Sunday morning.

As the Panthers were finally getting over the hump in Game 3 of the series, the Dallas Baptist Patriots were on a day off and were moving into first place ahead of the Roadrunners in the C-USA race.

The Patriots, who swept Louisiana Tech at home in a three-game series that ended Saturday, improved to 31-9 on the season and to 15-3 in the C-USA.

They’ll take into the new week a school-record 14-game winning streak, including 11 in a row within the conference. Meanwhile, UTSA dropped to 30-10 and to 14-3.

The Roadrunners, who remain on a school-record pace for victories in a season, have one less game on their conference ledger because of a rainout in Charlotte on April 8.

Coming up

Houston Christian at UTSA, Tuesday, 6 p.m.
UTSA at UAB, three-game C-USA series starting Friday


UTSA 30-10, 14-3
FIU 16-24, 4-14

C-USA leaders

Dallas Baptist 15-3, 31-9
UTSA 14-3, 30-10

Coming up

Houston Christian at UTSA, Tuesday, 6 p.m.
UTSA at UAB, three games, Friday through April 30

Miller, UTSA hold off FIU 9-8 to clinch a C-USA series on the road

By Jerry Briggs
Special to The JB Replay

Relief ace Simon Miller and the 22nd-ranked UTSA Roadrunners survived a ninth-inning scare Sunday morning, forcing a ground ball to the mound for the final out in a 9-8 victory over the FIU Panthers in Miami.

The teams started play early Saturday afternoon but had to leave the field in the evening because of a weather delay. Ultimately, the game was suspended in the seventh inning Saturday night, with the Roadrunners leading 9-6.

With the re-start taking place on Sunday morning, the Panthers seized the opportunity to stage a comeback, and they almost pulled it off. They scored twice in the eighth inning and had the potential tying run at third and winning run at second in the ninth, before Miller retired Mike Rosario to end it.

Ruger Riojas (4-0) was awarded the victory after pitching 3 and 1/3 innings to the point that the game was suspended on Saturday night. Miller worked the final 2 and 2/3 for his eighth save. For Pat Hallmark, the win was his 100th in four seasons as coach of the Roadrunners.

UTSA won the opener of the series Friday night, 22-8. With the two victories, the Roadrunners have clinched the series and have maintained a hold on first place in Conference USA. The teams are scheduled play the third game of a C-USA series after a scheduled half-hour break.

Coming up

UTSA at FIU, Sunday, 11 a.m. (central time)


UTSA 30-9, 14-2
FIU 15-24, 3-14

C-USA leaders

UTSA 14-2, 30-9
Dallas Baptist 15-3, 31-9

Game recap

The second game of a Conference USA baseball series resumed Sunday morning at 9:15 (central time) in Miami, with Simon Miller on the mound for the UTSA Roadrunners. With UTSA leading 9-6, one out and nobody on base, Adrian Figueroa stepped into the box for the FIU Panthers. Figueroa grounded out and Henry Wallen flied out to end an inning.

UTSA came to bat in the top of the eighth against lefthander David Eckaus. Eckaus retired the first two batters before yielding a single to Leyton Barry. He steadied himself and struck out Taylor Smith. In the bottom half, with Miller starting his first full inning, FIU opened with an infield single by Roney, and then Perez reached on an error by Roadrunners second baseman Leyton Barry.

At that point, Miller struck out Rosario. But FIU continued to battle, with Dante Giarardi reaching on an infield single, loading the bases. Miller fanned Alec Sanchez for the second out, bringing up Ruben Carpio, who had five hits against UTSA in the last two days. Carpio promptly singled through the right side for two RBIs, with Giarardi going to third.

With Miller working to Guida and the Roadrunners’ lead trimmed to 9-8, a ground ball force out ended the inning.

Emboldened, FIU’s Eckaus worked to the heart of UTSA’s batting order in the top of the ninth. It didn’t take long for him to strike out Antonio Valdez, Matt King and Caleb Hill. As a result, the Roadrunners took the field in the bottom half, with the Panthers trailing by a run but feeling some momentum. It was Miller’s job to shut it down.

Figueroa, the first batter, struck out. Drama ensued as Miller walked Henry Wallen, putting the tying run aboard. Brendan Roney promptly singled to right, moving Figueroa to third. With Noel Perez at bat, Roney stole second. But Miller got tough, fanning Perez for the second out. Mike Rosario stepped to the plate with the potential tying run at third and the winning run at second. Rosario grounded to the pitcher for the final out of the game.

The Roadrunners survived.

Game suspended because of weather with UTSA leading FIU 9-6 in the seventh

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

After more than an hour of weather-related delay, the second game of the Conference USA baseball series between the UTSA Roadrunners and the FIU Panthers in Miami has been suspended.

The game will re-start on Sunday morning at 9:15 a.m. (central time), with the Roadrunners leading the Panthers, 9-6, according to a tweet from the FIU baseball program’s Twitter feed. The Panthers will be at bat with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning.

The third and final game of the series will start 30 minutes after Game 2’s completion. UTSA won the first game, 22-8, on Friday night.

On Saturday, the Roadrunners jumped out to leads of 4-1 and 6-3 before the Panthers scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth to tie it.

In the sixth, UTSA responded with a three-run rally to make it 9-6. Garrett Poston, who hammered a solo homer in the second inning, delivered a two-run double in the uprising.

Poston’s three RBIs give him seven in the two games in Miami thus far.

Coming up

UTSA at FIU, Sunday at 9:15 a.m. (completion of Game Two)
UTSA at FIU, Sunday, 30 minutes afterward


UTSA 29-9, 13-2
FIU 15-23, 3-13

C-USA leaders

UTSA 13-2, 29-9
Dallas Baptist 15-3, 31-9

Game recap

The FIU Panthers gave the ball to righthander Jackson Ritchey, while the UTSA Roadrunners went with righty Drake Smith in Game 2 of a C-USA series in Miami.

In the top of the first inning, Ritchey came out strong and wild. While he walked one, he struck out three to keep the Roadrunners off the board. FIU opened the bottom of the first against Smith with consecutive singles by Mike Rosario, Dante Girardi, Alec Sanchez and Ruben Carpio to take a 1-0 lead. Smith retired Ryne Guida on a foul pop and fanned Adrian Figueroa, leaving three baserunners stranded, to end the threat.

UTSA exploded in the top of the second inning with four runs on three homers. After Caleb Hill opened the inning with a walk, Sammy Diaz hit a two-run blast to left field. One out later, Garrett Poston pulled a ball to right field for a solo home run. Not to be outdone, Leyton Barry hit a two-out solo shot to the opposite field in left for a 4-1 UTSA lead.

In the bottom of the second, FIU responded with inning-opening singles by Craig Palidar and Noel Perez. After Smith steadied himself to strike out Rosario and Girardi, Sanchez walked to load the bases. Carpio followed with a two-RBI single to left, trimming the UTSA lead to 4-3. With two runners on, Guida flied out to left to end the inning.

FIU went to the bullpen after two innings and brought in Kevin Martin, who held the explosive Roadrunners scoreless through the third and the fourth innings. In the bottom of the fourth, the Roadrunners lifted Smith for Ruger Riojas. Smith finished his day’s work with three innings, three runs allowed, seven hits and one walk. He also struck out six. Riojas gave up a hit in the bottom of the fourth but kept the Panthers off the scoreboard.

Panthers pitching walked a couple and committed a throwing error in the top of the fifth as UTSA scored twice. First, Martin walked Leyton Barry and Barry moved up on the error by Martin. After Valdez walked, both runners moved up when Daniel McAuliff fired a wild pitch. Barry and Valdez both scored on a ground ball by King for a 6-3 UTSA lead.

Undeterred, the Panthers came out strong against Riojas in the bottom half. Consecutive singles against the UTSA freshmen by Carpio, Guida and Adrian Figueroa produced one run. With two out, Noel Perez ripped a two-run single to tie it, 6-6. The inning ended when UTSA catcher Sammy Diaz threw out Perez at second trying to steal.

Did UTSA flinch at the adversity? Not hardly. McAuliff opened the top of the sixth by walking Diaz and Dalton Porter, and then Poston broke up the tie game with a two-run double to right center. The outburst prompted FIU to lift McAuliff for lefthander Ryan Cabarcas. Pinch hitter Isaiah Walker bunted Poston to third base, and then Leyton Barry brought him home with an RBI single and a 9-6 lead for the Roadrunners. The rally continued as Taylor Smith singled, but Cabarcas escaped further trouble by retiring Antonio Valdez and Matt King.

Responding to the momentum, Riojas blanked the Panthers in the bottom of the sixth. Giving up only a two-out single to Sanchez, he fanned Carpio — his second strikeout of the inning — to send the game to the top of the seventh with the Roadrunners, looking for their second win in two days in Florida, leading by three runs.

In the bottom of the seventh, Riojas starts his fourth inning and gets an out. But action is halted at that juncture when officials cleared the field for a lightning delay. A tough break for both teams but especially for the Panthers, who are swinging the bats well. They have outhit the Roadrunners 13-7 and have punched out 31 hits in the first two games of the series.

Dallas Baptist update

The Dallas Baptist Patriots set a school record with their 13th and 14th straight victories Saturday afternoon when they downed the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 11-3 and 10-5 in Dallas in a Conference USA doubleheader. The Patriots have won 11 in a row in conference.

UTSA-FIU notes

UTSA routed FIU 22-8 in Friday’s series opener. The team’s 22 runs and 21 hits were both season highs for a road game. The totals ranked second overall to 31 runs and 25 hits on March 11 in a 31-6 victory at home over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Grand slams by Taylor Smith and Matt King were the first this season for the Roadrunners. Smith’s six RBIs were a season high for the senior from Georgetown. His three hits tied his season high. King’s four hits and five RBIs tied season highs for the the sophomore from Kingwood Park. King has had five RBI games twice since April 14.

Fireworks: Smith, King, Poston spark UTSA to a 22-8 victory over the FIU Panthers

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Taylor Smith and Matt King delivered grand slams in a 21-hit attack for the UTSA Roadrunners, who stormed to a 22-8 Conference USA victory over the FIU Panthers Friday night in Miami.

Smith produced six RBIs, King had five and Garrett Poston four for the 22nd-ranked Roadrunners, who bounced back from a Tuesday-night home loss to non-conference rival Texas State and won going away in the opener of a three-game C-USA series.

FIU opened early leads of 1-0 and 3-2 on the C-USA leaders before UTSA’s offense came to life. The Roadrunners scored in five straight innings and capped the streak with a 10-run seventh.

UTSA also improved to 29-9 on the season and to 13-2 in the C-USA, remaining a half game ahead of the second-place Dallas Baptist Patriots.

C-USA newcomer Dallas Baptist won at home, beating Louisiana Tech 9-1, to extend its winning streak to 12 games. DBU has won nine in a row on its C-USA schedule.

Coming up

UTSA at FIU, Saturday at 4 p.m. Also, Sunday at 11 a.m.


UTSA 29-9, 13-2
FIU 15-23, 3-13

C-USA leaders

UTSA 13-2, 29-9
Dallas Baptist 13-3, 29-9


Shane Sirdashney, Isaiah Walker and Tye Odom were not in the starting lineup for UTSA. The three have been battling injuries.

Game recap

Utilizing a double and two singles, the Panthers took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second against UTSA’s Luke Malone. Ryne Guida got the rally started with a double down the left field line. Henry Wallen’s two-out RBI single brought home the first run of the game. FIU left runners stranded at first and second when Malone struck out Noel Perez to end the threat.

The Roadrunners answered against FIU’s Angel Tiburcio with two runs in the third. Sammy Diaz led off with a single. With one out, Leyton Barry slapped a single to left field and Taylor Smith walked. Antonio Valdez, the next batter, singled to right for two RBIs and a 2-1 lead for the Roadrunners.

Undeterred, the Panthers jumped on Malone again in the bottom half with a game-tying leadoff homer from Mike Rosario. Dante Girardi followed with a hit and Alec Sanchez bunted to put runners at first and second. With one out, Guida delivered an RBI double to give the Panthers a 3-2 lead. Malone worked out of a bases-loaded jam by striking out Wallen and Brendan Roney to end the threat.

Even though the damage could have been worse, a decision loomed for UTSA coaches on Malone, who had thrown 60 pitches and yielded seven hits to that point.

The Roadrunners, playing from behind, continued to attack in the top of the fourth. Matt King led off with a double and moved to third on a fly ball by Dalton Porter. Sammy Diaz hit an RBI single to make it a 3-3 ball game. UTSA didn’t stop there, as Garrett Poston and Leyton Barry singled to load the bases.

Taylor Smith, the team’s home run leader, took advantage of the base-loaded opportunity with a grand slam. At that point, UTSA was rolling again, leading 7-3. It was Smith’s 10th home run of the season. FIU’s Tiburcio, however, steadied himself and retired Antonio Valdez and Josh Killeen to end the uprising and the inning.

For Malone, who entered the game with a 2.40 earned run average, it wasn’t his best start of the season. But the bottom of the fourth might have been one of his more gutsy moments this spring. FIU had him on the ropes again with a couple of one-out singles. In response, he got tough, retiring Sanchez on a pop fly and Ruben Carpio on a ground ball. UTSA had held FIU scoreless for the first time since the first inning.

In the top of the fifth, Tiburcio didn’t make it to the end of the inning. The Roadrunners loaded the bases with a single, a walk and a hit by pitch. At that point, FIU pulled its starter and replaced him with CJ McKennitt. UTSA’s Garrett Poston promptly greeted McKennitt with a two-RBI single, making it 9-3. Taylor Smith struck out swinging to end the inning, but not before the Roadrunners increased their totals to 11 hits.

To this point, the narrative to this point for the Roadrunners revolved around the resilience of Malone, plus an offense that came alive behind Smith, a transfer from Texas A&M, and Poston, who entered the game with a .181 batting average and delivered with two hits in three at bats and a couple of RBIs. Malone worked smoothly through the bottom of the fifth, retiring three straight.

For the Panthers, the game turned a little ugly in the sixth. McKennitt walked three and fired a passed ball as UTSA scored three runs for a 12-3 lead. Poston emerged to punish the Panthers again with a run-scoring single. Poston, a utility player who’s manning right field tonight against FIU, has produced three hits and four RBIs.

Going into the bottom half of the sixth, the Roadrunners started out with Malone and then inserted Ryan Ward.

Malone had one of his more adventurous outings, throwing 101 pitches and 61 of them for strikes. In completing five and 2/3 innings, UTSA’s ace starter yielded five runs on 10 hits. The last one was a two-run homer by Girardi that pulled FIU to within 12-5. Keeping the rally going, FIU tagged Ward with a couple of hits before Guida struck out looking to end the threat.

In the seventh, the Roadrunners tagged the Panthers for 10 runs on eight hits. The big blow was a grand slam by Matt King. After it was over, UTSA held a 22-5 lead.

First-place UTSA opens second half of conference play on the road against FIU

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

If the 22nd-ranked UTSA Roadrunners can play the second half of their Conference USA schedule the way they played the first half, they could be in line for a regular-season title.

First-place UTSA opens a three-game series in Florida on Friday afternoon against the FIU Panthers. Catcher Josh Killeen says it’s important for players at this juncture to get their rest and watch their nutrition.

“Right now it’s focusing on staying healthy as a team,” Killeen said. “Right now, we have a few people who are banged up. A few people that are a little sick. I was sick a little bit last week.”

The key to sustaining the success, Killeen added, is “just kind of staying healthy and taking care of our bodies and eating right and continuing to improve on the field.”

A few injuries in the outfield are a concern leading into the FIU series. At Wednesday’s media session, coach Pat Hallmark said he thinks Isaiah Walker will make the trip but that Shane Sirdashney would not.

Tye Odom, who played through a back problem on Tuesday night against Texas State, also may not be 100 percent. Neither Walker nor Sirdashney played Tuesday night in a 5-3 loss to the Bobcats.

Third baseman Antonio Valdez said he’s happy with the team’s performance thus far, but not totally satisfied.

“I know there are some games we wish we could have back, but there are some games we’ve been fortunate to come out on top, so it’s been a good vibe,” he said.

Positioning in the NCAA ratings percentage index will be something to monitor in the coming weeks because it is one tool used by the national selection committee to determine at-large bids.

As of Friday morning, surging Dallas Baptist leads the 10 teams in Conference USA with an RPI of 16, followed by UTSA at 36.

The Patriots have notched victories over Oklahoma (on the road) and Oklahoma State and Baylor (both at home) since March 21. Most recently, they have won 11 in a row overall and eight straight in conference.

To cap the eight straight C-USA victories, Dallas Baptist has won three in a row at home against UAB and, most recently, three in a row on the road at Florida Atlantic.

At 28-9 overall and 12-3 in the C-USA, Dallas Baptist hosts the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs this weekend, with the opener set for Friday night. UTSA enters the FIU series in Miami at 28-9 and 12-2.

Coming up

UTSA at FIU, Friday, 5:30 p.m. Also, Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m.


UTSA 28-9, 12-2
FIU 15-22, 3-12

Conference standings

UTSA 12-2, Dallas Baptist 12-3, Charlotte 9-5, Louisiana Tech 9-6, Middle Tennessee 8-7, Florida Atlantic 7-8, Rice 6-9, WKU 4-11, UAB 4-11, FIU 3-12

RPI leaders in conference

Dallas Baptist 16, UTSA 36, Charlotte 54, Florida Atlantic 62, Rice 113, Louisiana Tech 133, Middle Tennessee 164, UAB 198, WKU 216, FIU 217.

UTSA in the polls

Baseball America, 22nd. D1 Baseball, 25th. Collegiate Baseball, 25th. National College Baseball Writers, 28th.