AAC baseball: Surging East Carolina takes a half-game lead on UTSA

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The East Carolina Pirates swept a doubleheader on Saturday and moved into a half-game lead in the American Athletic Conference baseball race over the UTSA Roadrunners.

The ninth-ranked Pirates won 11-7 and 11-4 on their home field to sweep a three-game series from the Wichita State Shockers.

With UTSA preparing to host the UAB Blazers in a series finale in San Antonio on Sunday, here are the updated AAC standings:

American Athletic Conference
Baseball standings

East Carolina 11-4, 31-8
UTSA 10-4, 23-16
Charlotte 8-7, 19-21
Florida Atlantic 7-7, 20-16
South Florida 7-7, 21-18
Wichita State 7-8, 21-20
Tulane 6-8, 21-18
Memphis 6-9, 18-22
UAB 5-9, 17-20
Rice 5-9, 14-25

UTSA downs UAB, 7-5, with series finale set for Sunday

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

UTSA on Saturday bounced back from a loss in the series opener and downed the UAB Blazers 7-5 at Roadrunner Field. With the series knotted at one win apiece, UTSA and UAB will play the finale of the three-game set on Sunday at noon.

Caleb Hill, Alex Olivo and Mark Henning each had two hits apiece for the Roadrunners. Hill and Olivo scored twice and Henning had two RBI. Reliever Daniel Garza (3-1) pitched five innings to earn the victory.

With the win, the Roadrunners kept pace with the East Carolina Pirates in the chase for first place in the American Athletic Conference. Later in the day, the Pirates rallied from a seven-run deficit to beat the Wichita State Shockers, 11-7.

UTSA and East Carolina are tied for first place at 10-4.

Records

UAB 17-20, 5-9
UTSA 23-16, 10-4

Series at a glance

Game 1: UAB 7, UTSA 3
Game 2: UTSA 7, UAB 5

Coming up

UAB at UTSA, Sunday, noon.

Notable

UTSA’s Mason Lytle was hit on his batting helmet by a pitch in the bottom of the second inning and had to come out of the game briefly. After he was checked out by a trainer, he took the field in the top of the third and played the rest of the game. Lytle leads the Roadrunners with a .388 average.

Roadrunners utility man Isaiah Walker played in a game for the first time since April 5. Sidelined with injuries for much of the season, he came off the bench to pinch hit in the bottom of the third and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. In the top of the fourth, he entered the defensive alignment at third base. He finished one for two on the day.

The Roadrunners have won all four of their weekend series in the American, and now they’ll try to make it five for five with a victory on Sunday. UTSA has claimed series victories over East Carolina (2-1), Tulane (3-0), Charlotte (2-1) and Memphis (2-1).

Blazers down UTSA, 7-3, to hand Riojas his first loss

UAB's David Harris scores in the fifth inning to tie the game 3-3. UAB beat UTSA 7-3 in American Athletic Conference baseball on Friday, April 19, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UAB’s David Harris slides in home, scoring from second base in the fifth inning on an RBI single by Nick Hollifield. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Logan Braunschweig and the UAB Blazers beat the hottest pitcher in the American Athletic Conference on Friday night at UTSA. Braunschweig’s two-run double highlighted a three-run ninth inning as the Blazers downed the Roadrunners, 7-3, handing UTSA star Ruger Riojas the first loss of his career.

Riojas (7-1) entered the game undefeated in a season and a half for the Roadrunners. After going 5-0 last year as a freshman, the sophomore righthander from Wimberley is now 12-1. He made his 37th appearance as a collegian in relief in the fifth inning and pitched into the ninth.

Ruger Riojas. UAB beat UTSA 7-3 in American Athletic Conference baseball on Friday, April 19, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Ruger Riojas took the first loss of his UTSA career after yielding four runs on seven hits in 3 and 2/3 innings. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The Blazers touched him for four runs on seven hits in 3 and 2/3 innings to win their third straight game, including wins at Rice last Sunday, at 18th-ranked Alabama on Tuesday and now against the team that had been leading the AAC standings.

“The biggest thing for us is, it’s three straight good games we’ve played,” UAB coach Casey Dunn said. “We had a good win last week on Sunday and we carried that over to a good win on Tuesday night against Alabama.

“We came out here and played … error-free baseball, with the exception of the mis-read in the outfield when they were able to score from first on the single. You take that play out of the equation and I thought we played really clean.”

UTSA appeared to have the upper hand after scoring three runs in the fourth inning for a 3-1 lead. With runners at first and third, Hector Rodriguez looped a single into center field. Freshman Diego Diaz, one of the fastest players on the Roadrunners, motored all the way from first and slid in safely.

Alex Olivo followed with an RBI single, but the Roadrunners tried to score a second run on the play but were thrown out at the plate to end the inning.

After the game, Dunn acknowledged that it was significant that they were able to beat Riojas, who entered the game with a 1.91 earned run average, good for third in the conference and 15th in the nation. His seven wins were tied for first with East Carolina star Trey Yesavage.

Robert Orloski. UAB beat UTSA 7-3 in American Athletic Conference baseball on Friday, April 19, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA freshman Robert Orloski gave up three runs, two of them earned, on three hits in 4 and 2/3 innings. He struck out four. – Photo by Joe Aleander

“He’s the guy we talked about,” Dunn said. “I’ve played against (coach) Pat (Hallmark) and his guys for a few years now, and he seems to like his best guys in the bullpen and try to get to ’em in later in games. We talked a lot about it, that if we were going to win, we were going to have to beat that guy, and I thought our guys had a good approach.”

The Blazers already scored once in the fifth inning against UTSA starter Rob Orloski when Riojas entered the game. Trying to protect a 3-2 lead, Riojas threw a fast ball that Nick Hollifield whacked into right field for an RBI single. The game was tied.

In the sixth, Mayes White slapped an RBI single to put UAB on top, 4-3. Riojas settled down and blanked the Blazers in the seventh and eighth innings. But he couldn’t get through the ninth unscathed. With one out and runners at first and second, Braunschweig, a left-side hitter, laced a double down the left field line that scored two runs.

Hollifield followed with an RBI single up the middle for the last run of the game.

Records

UAB 17-19, 5-8
UTSA 22-16, 9-4

Coming up

Saturday: UAB at UTSA, 11 a.m.
Sunday: UAB at UTSA, noon

Hector Rodriguez loops a single into center field in the bottom of the fourth, driving in two runs. Freshman speedster Diego Diaz scores all the way from first base on the play. – Video by Jerry Briggs

Alex Olivo drives in a run with a single through the right side in the bottom of the fourth, but the Roadrunners try to score again on the play and get thrown out at the plate. Rightfielder Tyler Waugh made the throw to catcher Nick Hollifield, who applied the tag on a sliding Mason Lytle. – Video by Jerry Briggs

Ruger Riojas. UAB beat UTSA 7-3 in American Athletic Conference baseball on Friday, April 19, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander Ruger Riojas went undefeated in his first 36 appearances as a pitcher for the UTSA Roadrunners. After finally taking a loss against the UAB Blazers Friday night, Riojas fell to 7-1 on the season and to 12-1 in his career. – Photo by Joe Alexander

AAC-leading Roadrunners host UAB Blazers in three-game series

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The first-place UTSA Roadrunners will host the UAB Blazers this weekend in American Athletic Conference baseball. A three-game series will commence with the opener set for Friday at 6 p.m. First pitch for Game 2 has been moved up to 11 a.m. Saturday to avoid incoming inclement weather. The finale is set for noon on Sunday.

UTSA opened the week on Tuesday with a 4-2 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. In a development that could prove helpful this weekend, pitchers Ryan Ward and Ryan Beaird worked three scoreless innings apiece. Braylon Owens and Ruger Riojas split the last three innings, with Riojas pitching shutout ball for the final 1 and 2/3 innings.

Riojas is 7-0 with six saves. He’s fashioned a 1.91 ERA to go along with an 0.98 WHIP. UTSA’s pitching staff was highly efficient against the Islanders, striking out 12 and walking none.

Mason Lytle and Caleb Hill are leading the UTSA offense. Lytle is among the AAC’s batting average leaders at .398. In addition, he has hit eight home runs and 33 RBI. Hill, meanwhile, is hitting .347 with a team-leading nine homers and 32 RBI.

UAB has had an up-and-down season. But the Blazers enjoyed a big day on Tuesday with a road victory against 18th-ranked Alabama. Blayze Berry, tonight’s projected starter, is 4-2 with a 2.44 ERA.

Records

UAB 16-19, 4-8
UTSA 22-15, 9-3

Coming up

Friday: UAB at UTSA, 6 p.m.
Saturday: UAB at UTSA, 11 a.m.
Sunday: UAB at UTSA, noon

AAC standings

UTSA 9-3, 22-15
East Carolina 8-4, 28-8
South Florida 7-5, 21-16
Wichita State 7-5, 21-17
Florida Atlantic 6-6, 19-15
Memphis 6-6, 18-19
Tulane 5-7, 20-17
Charlotte 5-7, 16-21
UAB 4-8, 16-19
Rice 3-9, 12-25

UTSA pitching strikes out 12 in a 4-2 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Ryan Beaird. UTSA beat A&M-Corpus Christi 4-2 in non-conference baseball on Tuesday, April 15, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Ryan Beaird, a UTSA junior from San Antonio’s Reagan High School, pitched three scoreless innings in relief and struck out five to earn the victory. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Ryan Ward, Ryan Beaird, Braylon Owens and Ruger Riojas combined for 12 strikeouts without a walk Tuesday night as UTSA beat the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders 4-2 at Roadrunner Field.

Coming off a two-to-one series victory at Memphis in the American Athletic Conference last weekend, UTSA scored three unearned runs in the third inning and made it stand up, improving to 12-4 over its last 16 games. UTSA is 3-1 on Tuesday nights during that stretch.

The Roadrunners didn’t play great in all phases of the game. They were thrown out on the bases three times.

Ryan Ward. UTSA beat A&M-Corpus Christi 4-2 in non-conference baseball on Tuesday, April 15, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Ryan Ward, a UTSA senior from San Antonio-area Clemens High School, started and pitched three scoreless innings. Ward allowed only one hit. – Photo by Joe Alexander

But with Ward, Beaird, Owens and Riojas throwing strikes all night, they were able to win against their South Texas rivals after losing two of three to the Islanders in Corpus Christi last month.

Beaird (1-0) earned the victory with three shutout innings. He allowed four hits and struck out five. After Owens got in trouble in the eighth, Riojas entered with a runner at second and one out. He promptly fanned two batters to end the threat.

With two outs in the top of the ninth, the Islanders got a runner aboard on an infield error, bringing leading hitter Issac Webb to the plate as the potential tying run. Webb, in the end, flied to center, giving UTSA the victory and Riojas his sixth save of the season.

Records

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 17-24
UTSA 22-15

Coming up

American Athletic Conference series
Friday: UAB at UTSA, 6 p.m.
Saturday: UAB at UTSA, 2 p.m.
Sunday: UAB at UTSA, noon

Notable

Cole Modgling, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s fifth-year senior from Medina Valley High School, had three hits in his first three at bats and finished three for four. The Islanders used five pitchers. Junior righthander Joshua Flaugher (0-2) was tagged with the loss. He yielded three hits and three runs, all of them unearned after shortstop Mason Person’s fielding error in the third inning.

Matt King. UTSA beat A&M-Corpus Christi 4-2 in non-conference baseball on Tuesday, April 15, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA shortstop Matt King gloves an infield chopper against A&M-Corpus Christi. On offense, he produced two hits and a run scored for the Roadrunners. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Roadrunners beat the Memphis Tigers to win another road series

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Mason Lytle homered twice for the first time this season and tied a season-high with four RBIs on Sunday as the UTSA Roadrunners moved into first in the American Athletic Conference by beating the Memphis Tigers, 7-5.

The Roadrunners won the finale of a three-game series in Memphis on the strength of hitting by Lytle and James Taussig and the pitching of Fischer Kingsbery, who worked four scoreless innings to close the game.

Lytle went two for four on the day. He homered to lead off the game in the top of the first and added a go-ahead two-run blast in the sixth. Taussig highlighted a three-hit day with a two-run double in the first inning and a solo home run in the seventh.

Kingsbery blanked the Tigers in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Allowing no runs on only two hits, he lowered his earned run average to 1.90. Kingsbery struck out five and walked two.

UTSA won two of three over Memphis for its fourth straight series victory in AAC play. Also, the victory pushed the Roadrunners (9-3) into sole possession of first place over the East Carolina Pirates (8-4) in the AAC standings. The Pirates lost 8-7 at home to the Charlotte 49ers.

For Memphis, Will Marcy went four for four, scored a run and produced an RBI. Duane Stuart hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth to lift the Tigers into a 5-4 lead. Lytle answered in the top of the sixth with a two-run shot of his own, pushing the Roadrunners ahead 6-5.

Third baseman Ty Tilson made one of the better defensive plays of the day for UTSA in the bottom of the eighth when he took away a hit with a diving grab of a hard-hit ground ball. Tilson came up throwing to get the force at second base. Kingsbery finished the inning by fanning Shane Cox looking.

Series recap

Friday: UTSA wins, 9-6
Saturday: Memphis wins, 12-5
Sunday: UTSA wins, 7-5
UTSA wins series, two games to one

Records

UTSA 21-15, 9-3
Memphis 18-19, 6-6

Coming up

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at UTSA, 6 p.m.

Notable

The Roadrunners improved to 11-4 in their last 15 games. They also remained undefeated at 4-0 on Sundays in AAC play. In UTSA’s inaugural season of play in the conference, it owns series victories over East Carolina (2-1), Tulane (3-0), Charlotte (2-1) and Memphis (2-1).

UTSA won the Tulane and Memphis series on the road …

Ulises Quiroga (4-0) pitched the first five innings to earn the victory. He gave up five runs, all earned, on six hits. Quiroga walked three and struck out four. He yielded home runs to Pierre Seals in the second inning and to Stuart in the fifth. Kingsbery earned his second save of the season. For Memphis, reliever Logan Rushing (0-2) was tagged with the loss …

Mason Lytle had a season high-tying four RBIs, matching the four he had in a series closing victory at Tulane on March 30 …

Correction

An earlier version of this story stated incorrectly that the Roadrunners were tied for first with the East Carolina Pirates in the AAC. Sorry about the error. Here is a look at the top of the standings:

UTSA 9-3, 21-15
East Carolina 8-4, 27-8
South Florida 7-5, 21-15
Wichita State 7-5, 21-16

Baseball: First-place UTSA downs Memphis, 9-6, on the road

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The UTSA Roadrunners scored four runs in the top of the ninth Friday and then held on to beat the Memphis Tigers 9-6 on the road in the American Athletic Conference.

First, Ty Tilson and Caleb Hill produced RBI singles. Later, the Roadrunners added two more runs when they bunted and forced a throwing error – the Tigers’ third of the inning.

With the victory, the Roadrunners (20-14, 8-2) won their 10th time in their last 13 and maintained a one-game lead in the AAC. They also snapped a four-game winning streak by the Tigers (17-18, 5-5).

UTSA was not a paragon of efficiency in taking the opener of a three-game series. The Roadrunners left 14 runners on base, including nine in scoring position. Memphis, meanwhile, was too mistake prone to take advantage. The Tigers committed six errors.

Offensively for the Roadrunners, Mason Lytle went four for six at the plate and raised his AAC-leading batting average to .409. Hector Rodriguez continued to swing a hot bat, as well, producing three hits.

The Roadrunners used five pitchers to subdue the Tigers. Ruger Riojas (7-0) picked up the win and Daniel Garza got the last two outs with a runner at third base for the save. Reliever Brayden Sanders (1-2) was tagged with the loss for the Tigers.

UTSA led by four runs entering the bottom of the sixth inning and appeared to be on its way to a comfortable victory.

Memphis had other ideas. Pierre Seals promptly delivered with a two-run homer off UTSA reliever Ryan Ward. In the bottom of the seventh, with UTSA ace Ruger Riojas on the mound, Brennan DuBose led off with a solo homer to bring the Tigers to within 5-4. Later, Memphis tied it in the eighth with an unearned run off Riojas.

Daunte Stuart ignited the rally with a one-out single up the middle. After Riojas struck out Jacob Compton, Seals stroked a hit to left field. Stuart rounded second and headed for third and kept on running on a Caleb Hill bobble in left. He scored to make it 5-5.

Leading by two runs, the Roadrunners called on freshman Diego Diaz to pinch hit with the bases loaded in the top of the sixth. A left-handed hitter, he burned Tigers lefty reliever JT Durham by slapping a single through the left side to make it 5-1.

Records

UTSA 20-14, 8-2
Memphis 17-18, 5-5

Coming up

Saturday: UTSA at Memphis, 2 p.m.
Sunday, UTSA at Memphis, 1 p.m.

AAC title race

Who’s leading the AAC baseball standings? Let’s see: UTSA is 8-2, followed by East Carolina at 7-3 and Florida Atlantic and South Florida, both 6-4.

Notable

UTSA freshman pitcher Rob Orloski started and retired only one batter and walked three before he was taken out in the first inning. He threw 18 pitches and only five for strikes.

Orloski’s outing followed an impromptu relief appearance Tuesday night in College Station against third-ranked Texas A&M.

At A&M, UTSA called on Orloski in the bottom of the ninth in a game that was tied 5-5. He retired one batter and then gave up a game-winning, solo home run to Jackson Appel. The Aggies rallied to beat the Roadrunners, 6-5.

UTSA sophomore outfielder Tye Odom, the team’s leader in slugging percentage at .630, sat out his fourth straight game as the Roadrunners opened the series against the Tigers.

Claunch and four assistants will lead UTSA basketball’s rebuild

Austin Claunch was introduced at the new UTSA head men's basketball coach at a public news conference on Thursday, April 11, 2024. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA athletic director Lisa Campos introduces men’s basketball coach Austin Claunch to the media Thursday at the Park West Fieldhouse. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

UTSA men’s basketball coach Austin Claunch, in his first face-to-face meeting with the San Antonio media, on Thursday named his four-man staff to include Trevor DeLoach, Nick Bowman, Joseph Jones and Joey Brooks.

Together, the 34-year-old Claunch and his team of assistants will start to rebuild a program that has lost more than 20 games in each of the last three seasons.

“The vision is to cut down the nets in the Convo,” said Claunch, who won 90 games and two Southland Conference titles in a five-year run as head coach at Nicholls State (La.) through the 2022-23 season.

This past season, Claunch worked as an assistant at Alabama.

UTSA hired him on March 17 after the Crimson Tide’s trip to the Southeastern Conference tournament. The plan called for him to remain at Alabama to fulfill his duties until the team completed its run in the NCAA tournament.

The ride for Alabama took Claunch all the way to the Final Four in Arizona, where the Tide lost in the NCAA semifinals last Saturday.

By Tuesday, he was in San Antonio, throwing out the first pitch at a Roadrunners softball game. On Thursday afternoon, Claunch arrived for a introductory news conference that had the feel of a pep rally at times.

During his remarks to reporters, Claunch named his four UTSA assistants. Here they are:

Austin Claunch was introduced at the new UTSA head men's basketball coach at a public news conference on Thursday, April 11, 2024. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Austin Claunch met the media on Thursday and announced a four-man coaching staff. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Trevor DeLoach — Spent the past three seasons at Jacksonville (Fla.) University under head coach Jordan Mincy. Before Jacksonville, he worked under Claunch as associate head coach at Nicholls State (La.) DeLoach played at North Carolina-Wilmington, where he was team captain for three seasons.

Nick Bowman — Worked last season as the lead assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the University of New Orleans under head coach Mark Slessinger. Bowman also worked under Claunch at Nicholls. He was with Claunch all five seasons.

Joseph Jones — Jones is the reigning coach of the year in the Western Athletic Conference. He helped guide Tarleton State University to a 25-win season. Last fall, he entered his fourth season as an assistant under head coach Billy Gillispie. But after four games, Gillispie had to step away from the team to deal with health issues, and Jones took over as interim coach. Jones, formerly one of Gillispie’s premier players at Texas A&M, led Tarleton to the WAC semifinals and later to the CIT Semifinals. Tarleton recently extended Gillispie’s contract through the 2025-26 season.

Joey Brooks — Brooks and Claunch were high school teammates at Strake Jesuit Preparatory in Houston. Brooks later went on to play 80 games in three seasons for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Last season, he worked as an assistant at Coastal Carolina. Brooks has also worked at Notre Dame, Purdue, Cal State Fullerton and at Nicholls State.

Claunch expressed confidence in the new staff.

“First and foremost, they’re guys you can trust. And (they’re) going to care about the student-athletes, and care about the school and the community,” the coach said. “These guys aren’t going to be strangers. You’re going to see them at events. You’re going to see them at other sporting events …

“They’re people that I trust. They’re people that I know care about me, and immediately it’s got to start with that. When the staff doesn’t have the camaraderie, players can sense that. So you got to build a staff of guys that are on one accord, and working toward the same thing.”

Claunch and staff will work in coming weeks on the roster for the 2024-25 season. First, they’ll meet with players from last year’s squad starting Friday. By next week, the coaches hope to start hosting some recruits.

The coach will rely heavily on DeLoach, Bowman, Jones and Brooks to help with the rebuild.

“Obviously, recruiting is going to be imperative,” Claunch said. “We’ve got to be able to recruit Texas. But then we’ve also got to get in the portal and get guys from there. Got to have guys (on the coaching staff) who have experienced winning, which they all do at different levels.”

Notable

It’s been a hectic three weeks for Claunch since UTSA hired him. But, fun, as well.

As his new job in San Antonio beckoned, he also remained committed fully to working with the Crimson Tide until the end of their postseason run. In that regard, the Tide just kept winning and made it all the way to the NCAA Final Four. Alabama was eliminated by eventual champion Connecticut in the NCAA semifinals last Saturday.

The coach said it wasn’t that difficult to balance the two jobs simultaneously because he was so excited to work hard at both of them.

“Sometimes when you’ve got two things and you don’t want to do either one, you just want to sleep all day,” he said. “This was easy to get up and get to work and maybe go on less sleep because I was so excited and anxious to get here and get to work, and obviously within the past few weeks we’ve started doing that remotely and started to turn the tires (with the UTSA program) a little bit.

Carlton Linguard Jr. Temple beat UTSA 84-82 in the Roadrunners' final home game of the men's basketball season on Sunday, March 10, 2024 at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Will 7-foot forward Carlton Linguard Jr. return to play for the Roadrunners? Linguard, formerly of Stevens High School in San Antonio, averaged 9.4 points and 5.9 rebounds last season. – File photo by Joe Alexander

“But then with Alabama, and the NCAA tournament — it was my first one — (an) incredible (feeling). I was going to experience everything that came with that. And that was long nights of scouts, and watching games and (talking) on the phone.”

Claunch marveled at the Crimson Tide’s togetherness and how they made it all happen.

“I’m not sure anyone really expected us to be in Phoenix,” he said. “We just came together, and round by round, just kept pushing. It was an incredible couple of weeks. I enjoyed every moment of it. But I am beyond excited to be sitting here in San Antonio now and working.”

Claunch said he “kinda sorta” tried to do some recruiting for the Roadrunners while he was handling his duties for the Tide during the tournament.

“I’ll say this,” he said. “The (transfer) portal is crazy right now. (But), first of all, the most important recruits are the guys in your program. I got to sit down with these guys and talk about our vision and how each of them fit within our style and what we do. (Also) their expectations. And kind of sort through all that.

“One thing I’ve learned in recruiting — you want to move fast, but you don’t want to rush. I mean, we want to get guys on campus next week, and kind of start having visits in that regard. But let’s identify the guys that we love and (guys) that fit with what we want to do, and when we do that, we’ll be fine.”

Roster rebuild looms

As expected, multiple players from last year’s UTSA team hit the transfer portal, including guards Jordan Ivy-Curry and Adante’ Holiman, who have already announced their commitments on social media to play elsewhere.

Ivy-Curry, UTSA’s leading scorer last season, has indicated he will go to Virginia Tech of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Holiman is headed for Georgia Southern in the Sun Belt, a move that was confirmed by the player’s father earlier this week.

Others who reportedly have entered the portal include point guard Christian Tucker, the assist leader in the American Athletic Conference, and forwards Trey Edmonds, Massal Diouf and Chandler Cuthrell.

Edmonds attended the news conference and confirmed that he is in the portal. He said he is weighing his options.

PJ Carter. UTSA men's basketball lost to Army 63-53 on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

PJ Carter averaged 9.5 points and shot 40 percent from three-point range last season. He came on strong at the end with 16 three pointers in his last four games. – File photo by Joe Alexander

Scholarship players not in the portal who might be the most likely to return would be 7-foot center Carlton Linguard Jr., guard P.J. Carter, guard-forward Justin Thomas and possibly guard-forward Dre Fuller Jr.

Both Carter and Linguard can shoot the three. In addition, Linguard is also a rebounder and a rim protector. Fuller and Thomas, long and rangy wing players, might fit well into the coach’s plan to play aggressive defense and force turnovers.

Earlier in the day Thursday, Fuller said he’d like to return for an extra season, but that he didn’t know what he would do until he talked to the new coaches. The same is likely true for Thomas, who sat out as a redshirt last season.

A native of Baton Rouge, La., the 6-foot-7 Thomas might be UTSA’s most talented player. He averaged 7.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game in 2022-23 at Milwaukee in the Horizon League.

Other players on the UTSA roster who apparently are not in the portal at the moment are guards Nazar Mahmoud, Blessing Adesipe, Juan Reyna and Josh Reid. Both Reyna and Reid are walk-ons and are not on scholarship.

Adesipe said it’s been an emotional time since the Roadrunners elected on March 14 not to renew former coach Steve Henson’s contract.

“Obviously, I got recruited by Henson and his staff,” said Adesipe, who sat out the season as a redshirt. “I built a connection with them. Being a transfer here and only being here for a couple of months, and now having to rotate and go into another set of coaches, is tough.”

Adesipe showcased significant athleticism and ability to play at the Division I level during in-season workouts, which were all open to the media. Now, he needs to prove it to a coaching staff that didn’t recruit him.

“It’s like basically getting a new job or getting a new boss,” he said. “You don’t know what they want or what their expectations are. I’m coming into this with an open mind, trying to stay in shape and stay ready for whatever Austin wants me to do. Obviously excited to see what he’s bringing in.”

Reyna, a San Antonio native who played in high school at Antonian, also sat out the year as a redshirt. He said he wants to play for the Roadrunners next season. But he said he’d also like to be offered a scholarship. “I feel like I’m a scholarship player,” he said.

Baseball: Services are set for 1969 Mets catcher Jerry Grote

Services have been set for former major league baseball player Jerry Grote, a member of the 1969 World Series champion New York Mets, according to the family’s obituary.

Visitation will take place on April 20 from 4–7 p.m. at Scanio-Harper Funeral Home, 3110 Airport Road, in Temple. A funeral service will follow the next day on April 21 at 2 p.m. at Heritage Country Church, 9677 Lark Trail, in Salado.

Burial will be on April 22 at 2 p.m. at the Grote Family Cemetery, 15940 Lookout Road., in Selma.

Grote, 81, a Belton resident, died on April 7. He grew up in San Antonio and played at MacArthur High School and Trinity University. Grote played 16 seasons in the majors and made World Series appearances in 1969 and 1973 for the Mets and 1977 and 1978 for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Texans in MLB: Westburg finds his power stroke for the Baltimore Orioles

Texans Jordan Westburg, Jordan Hicks and Chris Paddack all enjoyed big days on Wednesday in the major leagues.

Highlights

Westburg (formerly of New Braunfels High School) hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the Baltimore Orioles’ 7-5 victory over Boston at Fenway Park. It was the second home run for Westburg in his last seven games after hitting three in 68 games last year as a rookie.

The game was hyped nationally as the MLB debut for Jackson Holliday, who is considered the No. 1 prospect in the game.

For Orioles fans, it was the first time that they were able to see Holliday, Gunnar Henderson and Westburg — all drafted in the top two rounds over the past few years — in a game together. Westburg is the oldest player of the three at age 25. Henderson is 22 and Holliday 20.

An Austin native who grew up in Stillwater, Okla., Holliday went zero for four and struck out twice. But he collected his first major league RBI on an infield grounder as the Orioles rallied from a 5-0 deficit to win.

Meanwhile, right-handed pitcher Jordan Hicks (from Houston-area Cypress Creek HS) earned the win for the San Francisco Giants in a 7-1 victory over the Washington Nationals.

In a home game at San Francisco’s Oracle Park, Hicks gave up a second-inning home run to Joey Gallo but went on to blank the Nationals the rest of the way. He worked six innings and yielded one run on four hits.

Hicks, a relief pitcher in his first six seasons in the majors, including a little more than five with the St. Louis Cardinals, has pitched well as a member of the Giants’ starting rotation. He improved to 2-0 with a 1.00 earned run average over three starts.

Minnesota Twins righty Chris Paddack (an Austin native, formerly of Cedar Park HS) worked the first 4 and 2/3 innings in his team’s 3-2 road victory against the powerful Los Angeles Dodgers. Paddack has started his first full season on an active roster since he underwent ACL surgery in May of 2022.

Fans in San Antonio might remember Paddack from his days as a minor leaguer in the San Diego Padres’ farm system. The 6-foot-5 righthander notched seven starts for the San Antonio Missions in 2018.

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.