UTSA wins 12-6 to sweep three games from Tulane on the road

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Red-hot Mason Lytle homered in his fourth straight three-hit performance Sunday afternoon as the UTSA Roadrunners recorded an American Athletic Conference series sweep on the road with a 12-6 victory over the Tulane Green Wave.

Playing their inaugural season as members of the American, the Roadrunners took three games in three days against the Green Wave and moved into a tie for first with the Wichita State Shockers.


UTSA 16-12, 5-1
Tulane 15-13, 2-4

Coming up

UTSA at Incarnate Word, Tuesday, 2 p.m.


For UTSA, the road sweep was the program’s first in conference play since March of 2015 at Marshall. In addition, the victory was UTSA’s fifth straight, a season high.

Lytle continued his hot hitting with a three-for-five day. The junior from Pearland High School, a transfer from Oregon, hit safely in his 14th straight game. In that span, Lytle has 32 hits in 67 at bats for a .477 average.

In a streak within a streak, he also has recorded multiple hits in 11 straight games, including four straight with three hits. For the season, Lytle’s batting average is listed at .405. He entered the day leading the American in that category.

In the series finale, Hector Rodriguez and Caleb Hill also produced big numbers at the plate. Rodriguez had three hits and three RBIs. Hill had two hits and two RBIs.

Lytle’s homer came in the fourth inning, a three-run shot that he pulled to left field. The blast lifted the Roadrunners into a 6-2 lead.

Starting pitcher Ulises Quiroga (2-0) set a career-high by working seven innings. The righthander from Baytown allowed two runs on four hits. Quiroga walked three and struck out five.

UTSA clinches its first AAC road series with an 11-7 victory over Tulane

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The UTSA Roadrunners scored four runs in the top of the first inning Friday night and cruised to their fourth straight win, an 11-7 road victory over the Tulane Green Wave.

With the win, the Roadrunners also clinched their first road series in the American Athletic Conference. UTSA has won two straight games in the past two nights at Tulane, in New Orleans, going into Saturday’s series finale.

UTSA, breaking out with 17 hits, won the game with offense. But the defense played well, committing only one error, and the pitching with Zach Royse and Daniel Garza seemed to get tough when it counted.

Garza (2-1) earned the victory by pitching 5 and 1/3 innings. He allowed three runs on six hits and struck out seven. Garza shut out Tulane in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.

On offense, Tye Odom produced four hits and three RBIs. Mayson Lytle had three hits in extending his streak with at least one hit to 13 games, during which he has produced a .468 batting average. He has had multiple hits in his last 10 games.


UTSA 15-12, 4-1
Tulane 15-12, 2-3

Coming up

UTSA at Tulane, Saturday, noon.


UTSA strung together five straight hits and scored four runs in the first inning off Tulane righthander Chandler Welch. With one out, Mason Lytle singled to left, extending his hitting streak to 13 games.

Alex Olivo followed with a long fly ball, a single, that was dropped at the wall. Since Lytle couldn’t risk running full speed, he stopped at second. At that point, UTSA started to play aggressively, executing a hit and run with Matt King, who laced an RBI single to center.

On the next play, with runners at first and second, Tulane caught a break when James Taussig’s hot shot to the right side hit King on the foot. As a baserunner, King was out automatically and Taussig was on first with a single.

From there, the Roadrunners exploded, with Tye Odom smashing a long fly ball that got over the center fielder’s head for a two-run triple. On the play, a relay throw was wild and skipped into the Tulane dugout. Odom was awarded an extra base, and he scored to make it 4-0.

Baseball: UTSA rolls past Tulane 6-3 in series opener at New Orleans

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The UTSA Roadrunners on Thursday kept playing winning baseball in the early days of the American Athletic Conference race, cruising to a 6-3 road victory over the Tulane Green Wave.

In the first game of a three-game series at New Orleans, UTSA took charge behind the pitching of Rob Orloski and Ruger Riojas and the hitting of Mason Lytle, Matt King and Tye Odom.

Orloski allowed only one run on five hits in the first 4 and 1/3 innings, followed by the final 4 and 2/3 from Riojas.

Riojas gave up two runs on three hits, including a two-run homer in the ninth by Colin Tuft, to end the game. He struck out seven and walked none and picked up the win, improving his record to 5-0.

Tulane lefthander Luc Fladda (0-1) took the loss despite pitching fairly well. He yielded only three runs on six hits. Fladda had the Roadrunners swinging and missing, striking out eight.

Lytle, UTSA’s leadoff man, extended his hitting streak to 12 games. He went three for five for his ninth straight multi-hit game.

King, batting second, had four hits in five at bats, including two doubles and an RBI. Odom delivered with a solo homer in the fourth inning.

The Roadrunners entered the series on an upswing, having won two of three at home last week against the nationally-ranked East Carolina Pirates. The Roadrunners also won a non-conference road game Tuesday night, beating the Baylor Bears, 9-7, in Waco.


UTSA 14-12, 3-1
Tulane 15-11, 2-2

Coming up

UTSA at Tulane, Friday, 6:30 p.m.; UTSA at Tulane, Saturday, noon.

Rangers pitcher Nathan Eovaldi leads list of Texans on opening-day MLB rosters

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Former Alvin High School pitching star Nathan Eovaldi claimed victories in five postseason starts last fall in a magical run for the Texas Rangers, who won their first World Series title.

With a new season in Major League Baseball looming, Eovaldi is scheduled to get the start for the Rangers on opening night tonight when they host the Chicago Cubs.

To herald opening day (not counting last week’s games in Korea between the Padres and the Dodgers), here’s my first pitch, so to speak.

It’s my third annual list of prominent athletes from the state of Texas on active MLB rosters. To compile the information, I sifted through available information at the Baseball Almanac, Baseball Reference and mlb.com.

Editor’s note: I’ve since added a few names to the original list as new information came to light through the first weekend of the regular season:

Texans in MLB

Tyler Alexander/LHP/Tampa Bay Rays/Chicago native/Southlake Carroll HS/TCU – The 29-year-old Alexander is scheduled to pitch in the starting rotation with the Rays after working mostly out of the bullpen last year with the Detroit Tigers.

Chase Anderson/RHP/Boston Red Sox/Wichita Falls Rider/North Central Texas College/Oklahoma – The 36-year-old is entering his 11th year in the major leagues and his first season with the Red Sox. In his career, he is 59-56 with a 4.34 ERA.

Grant Anderson/RHP/Texas Rangers/Port Arthur native/West-Orange Stark HS/McNeese State — The high-kicking, side-winding righty is starting his second season in the majors with the Rangers. He’s scheduled to pitch out of the bullpen. His brother, Aidan, is in the Rangers’ farm system.

Brett Baty/3B/New York Mets/Round Rock native/Lake Travis HS — Baty enters his third season with the Mets. After they drafted him with the 12th overall pick in the 2019 draft, he toiled in the minors until a 2022 call up. Has hit .210 in 119 major league games with the Mets.

Josh Bell/1B/Miami Marlins/Dallas Jesuit HS – Bell solidified himself as the Marlins’ starting first baseman in spring camp. He’s got the run-producing credentials. He has RBI totals of 88, 71 and 74 the past three seasons, from 2021 through 2023, respectively. Bell has also played for the Pirates, the Nationals and the Padres.

Cavan Biggio/UTILITY/Toronto Blue Jays/Houston St.Thomas HS/University of Notre Dame – The son of former Houston Astros star Craig Biggio, starting his sixth season in the majors, is expected to play a utility role. Could see quite a bit of time at second base. Biggio helped lead St. Thomas to the 2011 TAPPS Class 5A state championship.

Cody Bradford/LHP/Texas Rangers/Aledo HS/Baylor — Bradford was a late-season callup for the Rangers last year. He pitched 56 innings in 20 games, including eight starts. He crafted a 4-3 record with a 5.20 earned run average. In the playoffs, he appeared in five games, all in relief, including two appearances in the World Series. Bradford had a postseason record of 1-0 with a 1.17 ERA.

Matt Carpenter/DH-1B/St. Louis Cardinals/Galveston/Missouri City Elkins HS/TCU — The 38-year-old Carpenter, a former All-Star in St. Louis, returns to the Cardinals after a few years away with the Yankees and Padres.

Colton Cowser/OF/Baltimore Orioles/Cypress/Cy Ranch HS/Sam Houston State – After playing 26 games in the big leagues late last season, Colton Cowser made the Orioles out of spring training. He was the fifth overall pick in the 2021 draft out of Sam Houston State.

Nathan Eovaldi/RHP/Texas Rangers/Houston native, attended Alvin HS. — Eovaldi is projected to play a leading role as the Rangers attempt to defend their American League and World Series titles. He is in his second season with Rangers after he spent the previous five seasons with the Boston Red Sox. Drafted in the 11th round in 2008, by the LA Dodgers, out of Alvin High School.

Kyle Finnegan/RHP/Washington Nationals/Houston-area Kingwood HS/Texas State University — Projected to pitch out of the bullpen as he starts his fifth season in MLB, all with the Nationals. In his career, he has forged a 19-18 record with a 3.53 earned run average. Played for Coach Ty Harrington at Texas State from 2011-13.

Paul Goldschmidt/1B/St. Louis Cardinals/The Woodlands HS/Texas State – An eighth-round draft pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009, Goldschmidt starts his 14th season in the majors. A former seven-time All Star, he ranks fifth among active players in hits (1,909) behind only Joey Votto, Freddie Freeman, Andrew McCutcheon and Jose Altuve. He played for Ty Harrington at Texas State from 2007-09.

Trent Grisham/OF/New York Yankees/Burleson/Richland, North Richland Hills HS — Dealt from the San Diego Padres to the Yankees in the Juan Soto trade. Grisham broke into the big leagues in 2019 with the Milwaukee Brewers. Started in the outfield the past four seasons with the Padres, winning gold gloves as a centerfielder in 2020 and 2022. Played in Triple A for the San Antonio Missions in 2019 before his call up to the majors. Hit for the cycle in his last game before getting the call to the big leagues.

Ke’Bryan Hayes/3B/Pittsburgh Pirates/Tomball Concordia Lutheran HS – Hayes starts his fifth season in the majors, all with the Pirates. Drafted by the Pirates out of high school in 2015 with 32nd pick on the first round. He’s known as a defensive specialist though he did hit a career-high 15 home runs last year. Spent some time last summer battling a sore back.

Jordan Hicks/RHP/San Francisco Giants/Houston Cypress Creek HS – Hicks gets a fresh start in his career as a starter with the Giants. Hicks has been in the big leagues as a reliever since 2018. Through 2023, he had pitched in 212 games. He was 12-21 with a 3.77 ERA. The Cardinals traded him to the Toronto Blue Jays last summer. Hicks elected free agency in the offseason, and he later signed with the Giants.

Josh Jung/INF/Texas Rangers/San Antonio MacArthur HS/Texas Tech — Last year, as a rookie in his first full season in the major leagues, Josh Jung made the American League All-Star team, hit 23 home runs and produced 70 RBIs. He also overcame an injury late in the season to help the Rangers win their first World Series title. He’s expected to start at third base tonight against the Cubs after sitting out much of the spring with a leg injury. Played for coach Tom Alfieri at MacArthur and for Tim Tadlock at Texas Tech.

John King/LHP/St. Louis Cardinals/Sugar Land Clements HS/University of Houston – King, a native of Laredo who grew up in the Houston area, has pitched parts of the last four seasons in the majors. He’s 11-10 with a 3.91 ERA in 107 appearances, all out of the bullpen. The Rangers traded him to the Cardinals last summer in the Jordan Montgomery deal. King opened the 2024 season in Triple-A at Memphis but was recalled to the big league club on March 31.

Shea Langeliers/C/Portland, Ore., native/Keller HS/Baylor University — The sturdy rookie catcher proved he was up to the task, working in 135 games last season in his first full year in the majors. He hit .205 with 22 homers and 63 RBIs. Langeliers played for Rob Stramp at Keller HS and for Steve Rodriguez at Baylor. He was the ninth pick in the 2019 draft, out of Baylor, by the Braves.

Nick Loftin/UTILITY/Kansas City Royals/Corpus Christi Ray HS/Baylor University — Loftin made the opening day roster based on his play with the Royals last September, when he hit .323 in 19 games, and then his strong showing in spring training. The Royals selected him 32nd overall in the 2020 draft out of Baylor.

James McArthur/RHP/Kansas City Royals/New Braunfels High School/University of Mississippi — The 6-foot-7 righthander was traded from the Phillies to the Royals last summer. He has made the best of it, earning four saves in 18 relief appearances last season. Now, he’s earned a spot on the Royals’ opening-day roster.

Bryce Miller/RHP/Seattle Mariners/New Braunfels HS/Texas A&M — In a surprise move that ended up pleasing everyone in the Great Northwest last year, the Mariners moved Miller up from Double-A to the major leagues in early May and watched in wonderment as he went 8-7 with a 4.32 ERA. He pitched 131.1 innings in 25 starts.

Shelby Miller/RHP/Detroit Tigers/Round Rock native/Brownwood HS – The 33-year-old Miller starts his 13th season in the major leagues in Detroit. Miller is pitching out of the Tigers’ bullpen. Drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2009 out of Brownwood High School, he has pitched in the majors for the Cardinals, Braves, Diamondbacks, Rangers, Cubs, Giants, Pirates and Dodgers. Miller, who had five starts in the minors with the San Antonio Missions in 2019, is 42-48 with a 4.06 ERA lifetime in the big leagues.

Hoby Milner/LHP/Milwaukee Brewers/Dallas/Fort Worth Paschal HS/University of Texas – The 33-year-old Milner could see a more prominent role in the Brewers’ bullpen with an injury to ace reliever Devin Williams. Milner was drafted in the seventh round out of UT in 2012 by the Phillies.

A.J. Minter/LHP/Atlanta Braves/Tyler/Brook Hill School in Bullard/Texas A&M – Minter is expected to help anchor the Braves’ bullpen once again. He’s pitched seven previous seasons, all with the Braves, and has posted 35 saves and 105 holds. His record is 19-25, and his ERA is 3.35. Minter played for Coach Terry Pirtle at the Brook Hill School in East Texas and for Rob Childress-coached teams at Texas A&M from 2013-15.

Max Muncy/INF/Los Angeles Dodgers/Midland native/Keller HS/Baylor University — The 32-year-old Muncy is expected to start at third base for the Dodgers, considered one of the favorites to win the National League pennant and World Series. Coming off a 35-homer, 105-RBI year, Muncy is in his ninth season in the majors. In 2012, he was drafted on the fifth round by the Oakland A’s, a few weeks after he led 49-win Baylor to an NCAA Super Regional.

Chris Paddack/RHP/Minnesota Twins/Austin native/Cedar Park HS — Paddack will enter his sixth season in the majors and his third with the Twins as a starter. Sidelined in May of 2022 with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, he returned and pitched at the end of last season and in the playoffs. Paddack was drafted out of high school in 2015 by the Marlins. Later traded to the Padres, he pitched in 2018 with the Double-A Missions in San Antonio.

Colin Poche/LHP/Tampa Bay Rays/Flower Mound/Flower Mound Marcus HS/ University of Arkansas/Dallas Baptist — The 30-year-old lefty will start his fourth season in the majors pitching out of the Rays’ bullpen. Poche was an eye-opening 12-3 with a 2.23 earned run average last year.

Ryan Pressly/RHP/Houston Astros/Flower Mound Marcus – Even with the Astros’ addition of Josh Hader as closer, the 35-year-old Pressley will be counted on heavily in high-leverage situations late in games. He’s pitched in 564 games in his career and another 46 in the playoffs during the Astros’ run of success. In high school, Pressly attended American Heritage Academy for three years and was an 11th-round pick of the Red Sox out of Marcus HS in 2011.

Brooks Raley/LHP/New York Mets/San Antonio native/Uvalde HS/Texas A&M — The 35-year-old Raley has enjoyed a long and winding career in professional baseball, getting drafted in 2009, breaking into the major leagues in 2012, playing in Korea from 2015-19, and then hitting his stride in the big leagues from 2020 to the present. Last year, he pitched in 66 games for the Mets out of the bullpen and posted a 2.80 earned run average. This will be his second season in New York.

Anthony Rendon/INF/Los Angeles Angels/Houston Lamar HS/Rice University – The 33-year-old Rendon starts his fifth season with the Angels. He came to the team in 2020 on a $245 million long-term contract. Plagued by injuries, he’s had trouble living up to expectations. Rendon hasn’t played more than 58 games in any season since he joined the team. A power-hitting third baseman, he slugged a total of 103 home runs in a four-year stretch from 2016-19 with the Washington Nationals. He was the sixth overall pick in the 2011 draft by the Nationals out of Rice.

Grayson Rodriguez/RHP/Baltimore Orioles/Nacogdoches Central Heights HS – Rodriguez (7-4, 4.35) more than held his own as a rookie for the AL East Division champions. He should settle in nicely as the No. 2 starter behind recently-acquired Corbin Burnes.

Burch Smith/RHP/Miami Marlins/San Antonio native/Tyler Lee HS/University of Oklahoma – The 33-year-old Smith returns to the majors after spending the past two seasons playing overseas in Japan and Korea. In 2019, Smith pitched as a starter in Triple-A with the San Antonio Missions. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2021.

Drew Smith/RHP/New York Mets/Fort Worth/Crowley HS/Dallas Baptist – The 30-year-old righthander is 11-12 with a 3.53 earned run average over five seasons, all with the Mets. Reached the big leagues in 2018, and sat out all of 2019 after elbow surgery. Last summer, his earned run average ticked up a bit to 4.15, but he remained as a fixture in the pen with 62 appearances.

Trevor Story/INF/Red Sox/Irving HS – The 31-year-old Story is looking for a re-set on his career going into his third year in Boston. Last year, he sat out 112 games with an elbow injury. He returned to play 43 games in August and September and hit only .203. The Sox hope he can regain some of the form he had with the Colorado Rockies, where he enjoyed a couple of 30-plus homer and 20-plus steal seasons. Story was the 45th pick in the 2011 draft out of Irving High School.

Ross Stripling/RHP/Oakland A’s/Pennsylvania native/Southlake Carroll HS/Texas A&M – The San Francisco Giants shipped the 34-year-old Stripling to the struggling A’s in February. With the A’s, he’ll bring veteran savvy to the clubhouse. He’s 38-43 with a 3.96 earned run average in his career. In high school, Stripling played for Larry Hughes at Southlake Carroll. In college, he pitched the Rob Childress-coached Aggies to three NCAA tournaments, including the 2011 College World Series.

Jose Trevino/C/NY Yankees/Corpus Christi St. John Paul II/Oral Roberts – Will enter his third year with the Yankees and his sixth in major league baseball. Trevino is coming off an injury-marred season in which he was lost to the team in July with a torn ligament in his right wrist. Trevino, formerly of the Texas Rangers, made the All-Star team and won a Gold Glove in 2022.

Will Vest/RHP/Detroit Tigers/Houston-area Fort Bend Ridge Point HS/Stephen F. Austin University – Will Vest opens his fourth season in the majors and his third with the Tigers as a middle innings reliever.

Michael Wacha/RHP/Kansas City Royals/Iowa City native, Texarkana Pleasant Grove HS, Texas A&M University – Wacha signed last December as a free agent with the Royals. Clated to be the fourth starter in the Royals’ rotation, Wacha has fashioned a 88-54 record in 11 previous seasons in the majors. He was an All-American at Texas A&M in 2010 and 2011.

Jordan Westburg/INF/Baltimore Orioles/New Braunfels HS/Mississippi State – Westburg, in his first season in the majors, hit .260 and played all over the infield in 68 games last year. He’ll be asked to play a similar role this season.

Bobby Witt Jr./INF/Kansas City Royals/Fort Worth-area Colleyville Heritage HS — Witt enters his third season in the majors with a new contract, which reportedly covers 14 years, including 11 of it guaranteed for $288 million. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 draft blossomed last season, hitting 30 home runs and stealing 49 bases. He is the son of former Rangers pitcher Bobby Witt.

Connor Wong/C/Boston Red Sox/Pearland HS/University of Houston — The 27-year-old Wong became a starter last year and played in 126 games. He’ll have the job again because of his defensive prowess, particularly his throwing arm and his ability to manage games. The Sox are hoping he can improve on a .235 average, 9 HR and 36 RBIs.


Infielder Brandon Belt (UT Longhorns/Nacogdoches), outfielder Robbie Grossman (Cy-Fair HS) and pitchers Noah Syndergaard (Mansfield Legacy) and Taylor Hearn (Royse City) remain unsigned … Former Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Corey Kluber (Coppell HS) has retired.

Outfielder Corey Julks (Friendswood/University of Houston) has been optioned by the Houston Astros to Triple-A Sugar Land. Infielder David Hamilton (San Marcos HS/University of Texas) has been optioned by the Boston Red Sox to Triple-A Worcester.

Former Stephen F. Austin standout Hunter Dozier will start in Triple A with the Salt Lake Bees, a Los Angeles Angels affiliate, after the former first-round draft pick spent the past seven years with the Kansas City Royals … First baseman Darick Hall has been optioned to the Philadelphia Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate at LeHigh Valley. Hall played in college at Dallas Baptist.

Injured list — Pitchers Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers (Highland Park HS), Jameson Taillon of the Chicago Cubs (The Woodlands), Nick Lodolo (TCU) and Brandon Williamson (also TCU) — both of the Cincinnati Reds — and JT Chargois of the Miami Marlins (Rice University).

Also, outfielders Randal Grichuk of the Arizona Diamondbacks (Lamar Consolidated HS) and Gregory Stone Garrett of the Washington Nationals (Richmond George Ranch).

Kershaw, on a Hall of Fame trajectory in his career, is expected to be out until midseason after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery.

Baseball: UTSA wins on the road at Baylor, 9-7

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Hector Rodriguez stroked a go-ahead, two-run double and Caleb Hill followed with an RBI single in the seventh inning Tuesday, helping the UTSA Roadrunners rally to down the Baylor Bears 9-7 in Waco.

Trailing by one run with two outs in the seventh, the Roadrunners came alive when Rodriguez pulled a hard ground ball just inside the bag at first and into the right field corner, scoring two runs to make it 8-7.

Caleb Hill followed with his third hit of the night, an RBI single, to make it 9-7.

Braylon Owens (2-1) completed a two-inning relief effort by shutting out the Bears in the bottom of the seventh. He earned the win.

Fischer Kingsbery worked the eighth and Ruger Riojas pitched the ninth for his third save in the team’s last four games.

Last weekend, UTSA won its first series of games against a Top-10 opponent, taking two of three at home against the East Carolina Pirates.

Two days after an emotional 6-5 victory over the Pirates in the inaugural series as a member of the American Athletic Conference, the Roadrunners followed with their second win in Waco in two years.

In the more than 30-year history of games between the teams, Baylor holds a wide lead in the series, 36-10, including 26-6 in its home ball park.

UTSA has started to make some progress, however, winning 8-3 last year and winning again this season for the first back-to-back victories against Baylor since 1994.

A concern for the Roadrunners developed late in the game after Hill got his hit in the seventh and ran to first base. A trainer came out to check on him. Though he remained on the field, he pulled up slightly running to second base after a Mason Lytle single.

A few minutes later, UTSA coaches took their leading hitter out of the game and sent a defensive replacement into the outfield.

Regardless, it was another big night for the Roadrunners, who continue to swing hot bats. Entering the game batting better than .300 as a team, they had 15 hits against the Bears, including three by Hill and three by Lytle.

UTSA also showed resilience, rallying from deficits of 5-3 after three innings and 7-5 after four. In addition, the team showed it was capable of winning in the mid-week, evening its record to 3-3 in games played on either Tuesday or Wednesday.

The Roadrunners have a weekend series in the American Athletic Conference on the horizon, as they’re set to play three in three days starting Thursday in New Orleans against Tulane.


UTSA 13-12
Baylor 8-16

Coming up

(AAC) UTSA at Tulane, Thursday, 6:30 p.m.
(AAC) UTSA at Tulane, Friday, 6:30 p.m.
(AAC) UTSA at Tulane, Saturday, noon

Baseball: UTSA wins inaugural AAC series against 10th-ranked East Carolina

By Jerry Briggs
For The JB Replay

Mason Lytle ignited the offense early. Daniel Garza and Ruger Riojas pitched with a purpose at the end. As it turned out, the UTSA Roadrunners claimed a 6-5 victory Sunday over the 10th-ranked East Carolina Pirates

In their first weekend of play as a member of the American Athletic Conference, the Roadrunners won two of three off the defending champions. It is the first time in the history of the program that UTSA has won a series against a Top-10 opponent.
In Game 1 on Friday night, freshman Rob Orloski combined with Riojas to pitch the Roadrunners to a 4-2 victory over East Carolina and All American Trey Yesavage. On Saturday, the Pirates bounced back, winning 14-10 behind a 16-hit attack.

UTSA claimed the rubber match on a cool and cloudy Sunday afternoon at Roadrunner Field despite four home runs by the hard-hitting visitors from Greenville, N.C.

East Carolina kept pounding away all day with homers by Justin Wilcoxen, Dixon Williams, Joey Berini and Ryan McCrystal.

The Roadrunners took charge early, leading 2-0 after one inning and 4-1 after two as centerfielder Mason Lytle and catcher Broc Parmer led the way.

In the top of the first, Parmer back-handed a ball on a pitch that hit the turf. He came up and threw out Clark Cunningham trying to take second base to end the inning. Later, Lytle ignited the offense with a one-out single and a stolen base.

To cap the bottom of the first, Parmer doubled to left and drove in a run to make it 2-0. Thanks to the pitching and the defense, the Roadrunners would hold on to the lead for the remainder of the afternoon.

A pitching threesome of Ulises Quiroga, Garza and Riojas got the job done. Quiroga started and worked four innings. Though he gave up three runs, he also kept the Roadrunners in the game with a sharp breaking pitch. He struck out four.

Garza entered in the fifth inning and worked into the eighth. Pounding the strike zone and walking none, he seemed to be in full control to all but two batters. Perini touched him for a two-out solo homer in the sixth. Later, McCrystal launched a solo shot of his own to lead off the eighth.

After the McCrystal blast cleared the wall in left and pulled East Carolina to within 6-5, UTSA coach Pat Hallmark called on Riojas, his ace, who threw 41 pitches in a three-inning save Friday night. Riojas promptly registered two strikeouts and induced a ground ball to end it.

In the ninth, the Pirates threatened again when Cunningham delivered a two-out double into the left-center gap. Riojas finished the game by getting Jacob Jenkins-Cowart to bounce a ball to shortstop Matt King, who fired to first for the third out.

Riojas, in all, worked two scoreless innings, allowing only a hit, while striking out two. In the process, he lowered his earned run average to 1.44.

Lytle, a transfer from the University of Oregon, continued his strong play. He finished the game two for four to extend his hitting streak to 10 games and raise his batting average to .371. He stole three bases and scored twice.

Defensively, Lytle made a diving catch in center in the second inning for his second gem of the weekend.

Parmer, one of three newcomers to play catcher for the Roadrunners this season, is making a bid for the lead role. He made multiple stops on pitches that were difficult to handle, including one when the Pirates had a runner at third base. At bat, he finished three for four with two doubles, lifting his average to .358.

Alex Olivo and Zane Spinn also had two hits in the Roadrunners’ 10-hit attack. Olivo delivered an RBI single in the first. Spinn had an RBI double in the second and later scored on a Caleb Hill sacrifice fly to make it 4-1.


East Carolina 16-6, 1-2
UTSA 12-12, 2-1

Coming up

UTSA at Baylor, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.
AAC – UTSA at Tulane, Thursday, 6:30 p.m.
AAC – UTSA at Tulane, Friday, 6:30 p.m.
AAC – UTSA at Tulane, Saturday, 1 p.m.

Basketball: An 18-win season comes to an end for the UTSA women

By Jerry Briggs
For The JB Replay

Malene Pedersen poured in 15 of her game-high 24 points in the first half as the Wyoming Cowgirls dominated early in an 80-64 victory over the UTSA Roadrunners in the second round of the WNIT.

Playing at home, the Cowgirls of the Mountain West Conference pushed out to a 25-point lead at halftime and then held off the Roadrunners to advance to the tournament’s round of 16.

As the game ended in Laramie, Wyo., so, too, did the Roadrunners’ best season in 15 years. UTSA finished with an 18-15 record for its first winning season since 2015. The 18 wins were the most by a women’s basketball team at UTSA since the 2009 squad won 24.

UTSA also went 10-8 to finish tied for fourth in the American Athletic Conference. Playing in the American for the first time, the Roadrunners won a game at the AAC tournament and then bowed out in the semifinals.

Even with the loss, they advanced to the WNIT and won at home last Thursday in the first round, beating Northern Colorado, 80-62. It was the first win in a national postseason event for the UTSA women in their 43-year history.

The Cowgirls, playing on their home court, proved to be too tough for the Roadrunners. They shot 50 percent from the field for the game and made eight 3-pointers. Wyoming started fast, building a 26-8 lead after one quarter. By halftime, the Cowgirls’ lead ballooned to 45-20.

Jordyn Jenkins scored 28 points to lead the Roadrunners. Jenkins, in her 12th game since returning from an injury that kept her out for the first 21, capped her season by hitting 11 of 20 shots from the field.

Guard Sidney Love added 13 points and six rebounds.


UTSA 18-15
Wyoming 17-14

Pirates rough up Roadrunners’ pitching in 14-10 victory

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The 10th-ranked East Carolina Pirates exploded for 16 hits Saturday afternon en route to a 14-10 victory over the UTSA Roadrunners in the American Athletic Conference.

Tye Odom crushed a grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning to bring the Roadrunners to within two runs of the lead.

But the Pirates, who had scored six runs of their own in the eighth, answered with two more in the top of the ninth to put the game away.

Reliever Danny Beal shut down UTSA in its last at bat to secure the victory.

With the win, the Pirates rebounded from a 4-2 loss to the Roadrunners Friday night and evened the American Athletic Conference series at one win apiece.

The series finale is set for Sunday at 1 p.m. at Roadrunner Field.


East Carolina 16-5, 1-1
UTSA 11-12, 1-1

Coming up

Series finale: East Carolina at UTSA, Sunday, 1 p.m.

Baseball: UTSA knocks off 10th-ranked East Carolina, 4-2

UTSA’s Matt King singles off East Carolina ace Trey Yesavage to drive in Mason Lytle in the first inning. – video by The JB Replay

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

With a gusting wind blowing into the hitters’ faces all afternoon and into the evening, the elements seemed to favor the 10th-ranked East Carolina Pirates and All-American pitcher Trey Yesavage.

The odds seemed to be stacked heavily against the home-team UTSA Roadrunners in their debut game in the American Athletic Conference.

Rob Orloski. UTSA beat 10th-ranked East Carolina 4-2 in American Athletic Conference baseball on Friday, March 24, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Freshman Rob Orloski allowed one run in six innings to earn the victory, improving his record to 3-2 on the season. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Yesavage, after all, came into the AAC opener for both teams undefeated at 4-0, with a 1.20 earned run average.

Undeterred, UTSA played its finest game of the season and defeated Yesavage and the Pirates, 4-2, on Friday night at Roadrunner Field.

“It feels great,” UTSA coach Pat Hallmark said. “You know, their pitcher is really good. I’m impressed (with) and proud of our hitters, on a night the wind’s blowing in. If we won, I thought the score would be 2-1 or 3-2. We didn’t score a ton. But it’s hard to score four runs on that guy with the wind blowing out.”

Two nights after losing 14-13 at Texas State on a night when UTSA walked 11 batters, the Roadrunners’ pitching stood tall against the four-time defending regular-season champions in the AAC.

Freshman Rob Orloski (3-2) pitched six innings for the victory and relief ace Ruger Riojas worked the final three for his second save.

“It’s a great feeling,” Riojas said. “So far since I’ve been here, it’s the best game I’ve been involved with. It’s very motivating to beat what I would say is the best mid-major (team) in the country.”

While Orloski allowed nine hits and one run in his six innings, he was solid in throwing strikes when he needed them. He walked only one and struck out two.

Riojas, in turn, was electric. The sophomore from Wimberley seemed content in throwing fastballs at a team with a .299 average, and he proved successful, allowing only three hits and an unearned run.

Ruger Riojas. UTSA beat 10th-ranked East Carolina 4-2 in American Athletic Conference baseball on Friday, March 24, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA relief ace Ruger Riojas limited East Carolina to three hits and an unearned run in three innings to pick up his second save. – Photo by Joe Alexander

He walked one and struck out four.

The top of the eighth inning yielded high drama for the fans. With the Pirates at bat, trailing by three runs and facing Riojas, they started a rally when Jacob Jenkins-Cowart led off, smashing a ground ball that went through the legs of UTSA second baseman Diego Diaz for an error.

Next, Riojas seemed a little rattled and walked Jacob Starling, putting runners at first and second base with nobody out.

From there, though, the UTSA righthander became extremely tough. Pitching to the next man, Justin Wilcoxen, Riojas threw inside on a pitch that sounded as if it might have hit something just before it zipped into the catcher’s mitt.

The umpire’s call was a ball and not a hit by pitch, so, in response, East Carolina coach Cliff Godwin called for a video review.

The review was lengthy, with Riojas throwing at least five or six times to keep warm, before home plate ump Doug Williams returned and confirmed the original call.

Even with the delay, Riojas seemed unruffled, and he responded by striking out Wilcoxen. Next, he fanned Bristol Carter. Nearly out of the inning, Riojas was stung when Ryan McCrystal fisted one into center for an RBI single, trimming the UTSA lead to 4-2.

Matt King. UTSA beat 10th-ranked East Carolina 4-2 in American Athletic Conference baseball on Friday, March 24, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Shortstop Matt King made all the plays in the field and also went two for three at the plate with an RBI. – Photo by Joe Alexander

With runners still aboard at first and second, Joey Berini stepped into the box and bounced a weak grounder to first for the third out.

In the ninth, Riojas retired the Pirates in order to secure the victory.

Afterward, the sophomore addressed the media and acknowledged that his memory of the details in the game were a bit of a blur.

“I don’t remember much,” Riojas said. “I just remember Rob being on his game. He was executing every pitch and taking advantage of them. He threw amazing. Like, we couldn’t have done this without him, 100 percent.

“Outfield, too. Outfield had a lot of range tonight. I think it was good. Especially with the wind coming in, playing those fly balls. I think they did their part. The infield, they did their job.”

Outfielder Mason Lytle, with two hits, two runs scored and a run-saving catch in center field in the fifth, emerged as another key component in UTSA’s second Top 10 victory at home in the past three seasons.

With a baserunner at third and two outs in the top of the fifth, Carter Cunningham drilled a line drive that started hooking, carrying it away from Lytle, who was running in and veering off to the side.

He left his feet, dove and made the catch while sliding on his chest and stomach, prompting even some of the East Carolina fans to cheer the play.

“Those plays are like home runs,” Hallmark said. “They’re great plays, but people don’t equate them to home runs. Because it takes a run off the board for them. You know, and they’d still be batting. One run would score and they’d still be batting, so it was huge.”

Pat Hallmark. UTSA beat 10th-ranked East Carolina 4-2 in American Athletic Conference baseball on Friday, March 24, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA, under coach Pat Hallmark, has scored two Top 10 victories at home in the past three seasons. The first came in 2022 when the Roadrunners beat the No. 2 Stanford Cardinal, 6-5, in 10 innings. The second came Friday night in a 4-2 win over the 10th-ranked East Carolina Pirates. – Photo by Joe Alexander

In 2022, UTSA defeated No. 2 Stanford, 6-5, in 10 innings at Roadrunner Field. This time, in contrast, the victory over East Carolina may have meant more simply because it came in the program’s inaugural game in the AAC.

Also because they beat Yesavage, who is considered one of the top pitching prospects going into the 2024 draft. An ESPN television commentator said he counted 18 pro scouts at the game.

All the attention seemed to motivate the Roadrunners, who nicked him for four runs on eight hits in five innings. The 6-foot-4 righthander from Boyertown, Pa., walked one and struck out five.

The Roadrunners scored one run in the first inning and three more in the third off Yesavage, who seemed to be having problems locating pitches, particularly his breaking ball.

In the first, the East Carolina ace yielded consecutive one-out singles to Lytle, Alex Olivo and Matt King. With runners at first and second, King drilled a ball in the hole between third and shortstop to score Lytle, making it 1-0.

In the third, Lytle and Olivo set the table again, with Lytle smacking a single and Olivo drawing a walk. King executed a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up, and then Broc Parmer and James Taussig rifled back-to-back RBI singles through the right side of the infield.

With runners at first and third, Tye Odom sacrifice bunted to the right side of the pitcher’s mound, allowing Parmer to score from third to make it 4-0.

East Carolina finally broke through to score off Orloski in the sixth inning, with Bristol Carter supplying the RBI single. Jenkins-Cowart, who started the rally with a leadoff single, came home from third to score the Pirates’ first run.


East Carolina 15-5, 0-1
UTSA 11-11, 1-0

Coming up

Second game of a three-game series, East Carolina at UTSA, Saturday at 2 p.m. The finale is Sunday at 1 p.m. Both at Roadrunner Field on the UTSA campus.

Rob Orloski. UTSA beat 10th-ranked East Carolina 4-2 in American Athletic Conference baseball on Friday, March 24, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

In Rob Orloski’s last two outings as a pitcher, the UTSA freshman from Idaho has allowed two earned runs on 13 hits in 11 innings. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Mason Lytle continues lineage of Houston-area center field talent at UTSA

Mason Lytle. UTSA beat UT-Arlington 2-1 in the second game of a doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA centerfielder Mason Lytle has contributed with his bat, glove and speed in the first 21 games of the season. – File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

UTSA baseball fans seem to have found another favorite to cheer in center field. Mason Lytle is his name, and while he has played center for the Roadrunners only for a little more than a month, it is arguable that his skills match up with some of the best at the position in the history of the program.

In a breezy interview Thursday, he talked about a number of topics: Among them, an older brother being an inspirational figure when he was a kid learning the game. His background as a ball player from talent-rich Pearland in the Houston area. And a shoulder injury at the University of Oregon last spring that temporarily derailed his career.

Also, Lytle expressed his feelings about a historic weekend looming for the Roadrunners, who play their inaugural American Athletic Conference games at home over the next few days against the 10th-ranked East Carolina Pirates.

“Oh, yeah,” he said, “it’s super exciting. We’re getting prepared. We’re working hard. Watching video to get ready. Working hard in the (batting) cages to get our swings right. New conference. New opponents, and they’re ranked pretty high. So, it should be fun. It should be exciting.”

The East Carolina-UTSA series opener is set for 6 tonight at Roadrunner Field. The matchup will continue Saturday at 2 p.m., followed by a Sunday finale starting at 1 p.m.

When Lytle first stepped on the outfield grass for the Roadrunners earlier this season, fans could see his speed and ability to chase down balls in the gap. Also they watched as he put pressure on the defense running out routine grounders and stealing an occasional base.

And, by the way, he is now 9 for 9 in that category.

What has raised eyebrows lately, though, has been his ability to make contact at the plate and then utilize his speed to create havoc for opposing defenders.

Currently, Lytle (.359 average, .576 slugging percentage) is riding a seven-game hitting streak and has recorded multiple hits in his last four games.

“Mason has stepped up,” UTSA coach Pat Hallmark said. “Plays really good defense. From a talent standpoint, I knew he belonged on the field. I didn’t expect he’d hit this (well). To hit .350 (is not easy) and he’s done it.

“He’s hitting in the clutch a little bit, too, which is nice to see, and he runs the bases well.”

With Caleb Hill on an even greater tear and making contact with the ball at a high level at the top of the batting order, Hallmark has used Lytle anywhere from second to fifth recently.

The two also complement one another in the outfield, with Hill in left and Lytle in center.

“It’s hard to find that at the mid-major level, a guy that can defend, that can hit for a little power and can steal a base,” Hallmark said. “Those two guys can do all that. We’re very excited to have ’em.”

At UTSA, fans have had the good fortune to see some talented centerfielders. Many of them, like Lytle, have come from the Houston area.

Michael Rockett, for instance, and his younger brother, Daniel Rockett. From the late-2000s to the early 2010s, one or the other routinely would run down balls hit into the gap. Most recently, Shane Sirdashney from The Woodlands.

He, too, could hit for average and power and could do just about everything.

Last weekend, at home against Northwestern, Lytle continued the show for UTSA fans. He hit eight for 11 at the plate and rang up 17 total bases.

Lytle also hit an inside the park home run. The ball caromed off the batter’s eye in center field, and by the time it was retrieved, he had a full head of steam that allowed him to score.

Last time he hit an inside-the-park four-bagger?

“I actually had two at San Jac, in the same weekend,” he said, smiling, referring to his three-year run at San Jacinto College through 2022.

Lytle said he’s been working with coaches on getting back to basics with his swing.

“Not thinking too much, simplifying the swing. Getting the foot down. Seeing the ball. Back to the roots,” he said. “It’s been paying off. It’s been working.”

Defensively, the UTSA outfield is in good shape at the moment, with Hill in left, Lytle in center and Tye Odom, recently returning to form after an injury, playing in right.

“It’s nice to have three centerfielders out there in the outfield playing, at all three positions,” Lytle said. “We’re all quick. We’re all fast. We can all get to any ball. It’s nice to be able to trust the left fielder and the right fielder. It works good.

“I think our pitchers are happy we’re all out there.”

If not for a shoulder injury that cut short Lytle’s one and only season at Oregon around this time last year, he might not be at UTSA.

“I got surgery, the season was ending (for me),” he said. “The team was good. It was a fun team to be around. But it just didn’t work out in my favor. Ended up here. Couldn’t be … happier.”

Lytle’s hometown of Pearland is synonymous with the game of baseball. Former major leaguers Clay Hensley, Robbie Weinhardt, Craig Smajstrla, Jeff DeWillis and Kirk Dressendorfer all played in the area just south of Hobby Airport.

“It’s where my family grew up,” Lytle said. “It’s nice to have those roots there. A lot of baseball talent coming out of there. Especially right now, they’re pretty good. One of the top (high school) teams in the nation. It was good to be surrounded by some other good ball players. Helped me grow tremendously.”

When UTSA’s current centerfielder was growing up, his older brother, Hunter Lytle, was the man.

“My older brother played sports,” he said. “He was pretty athletic. He didn’t play as far as I did. But, he definitely had the talent. He was good, and he pushed me to my limits.”

Lytle acknowledged that his brother attended Texas State University, UTSA’s I-35 rival in athletics, with a particularly heated rivalry in baseball. Texas State on Tuesday night knocked off UTSA 14-13, a game in which Mason Lytle had three hits.

Reporters at Thursday’s media day didn’t even have to ask whether the older brother supported his younger brother’s team a few nights ago, or his own alma mater.

“He he was rooting for us,” Mason Lytle said.

As for how the Roadrunners keep coming up with high-caliber center field talent out of the Houston area, Hallmark said he hadn’t thought about it in those teams.

The Rockett brothers were recruited under a previous UTSA coaching staff into an area where their uncle, former Atlanta Braves shortstop Pat Rockett, grew up and attended high school. In Sirdashney’s case, Hallmark brought him to San Antonio, first to the University of the Incarnate Word and then to UTSA.

Lytle thought about the Houston connection and his own place in the lineage and said simply, “It’s a blessing to be out here and filling those shoes.”

Coming up

East Carolina at UTSA, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.


East Carolina 15-4
UTSA 10-11