Matt King, Mason Lytle and Co. lead UTSA past Texas State, 11-9

Mason Lytle (No. 3) celebrates with teammates after his fourth-inning grand slam boosted UTSA into an 8-5 lead against Texas State. The Roadrunners went on to claim victory over their Interstate 35 rivals from San Marcos and a split of their two games this season. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Matt King ignited the offense early with a solo home run and an RBI double, and then Mason Lytle hit a go-ahead grand slam in the fourth inning, helping the UTSA Roadrunners rally past the Texas State Bobcats, 11-9, in an Interstate 35 rivalry game Tuesday night at Roadrunner Field.

The win, coming on a warm and breezy evening in front of an announced 1,070 fans, was significant on a number of fronts for the Roadrunners.

It gave them renewed momentum leading into a weekend home series in the American Athletic Conference against Wichita State. It boosted UTSA coach Pat Hallmark to his 200th career victory, and it also allowed allowed the team to gain a split of two games against Texas State this season.

Braylon Owens pitched 2 2/3 innings and earned the win in relief. UTSA beat Texas State 11-9 in non-conference baseball on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Braylon Owens pitched 2 2/3 innings and earned the win in relief. – Photo by Joe Alexander


Texas State 22-24
UTSA 26-18

Coming up

AAC series: Wichita State at UTSA
Friday – 6 p.m.
Saturday — 2 p.m.
Sunday — 1 p.m.


A dime novelist probably couldn’t have scripted a more harrowing start for a Roadrunners team that came out flat, steadied itself in the middle innings and finally hung on to win behind the pitching of Braylon Owens, Ruger Riojas and Fischer Kingsbery.

In the beginning, a couple of UTSA pitchers didn’t have great control of their stuff. One walked three batters and threw three wild pitches. On top of that, the infield botched a couple of plays and contributed to the Bobcats scoring four runs in the first inning and one more in the second for a 5-0 lead.

Matt King had three hits including a home run. UTSA beat Texas State 11-9 in non-conference baseball on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Matt King had three hits including a home run as UTSA beat Texas State 11-9 in non-conference baseball on Tuesday. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Fortunately for the Roadrunners, they have a prideful roster of players who compete hard even when they’re not performing at their best, and that’s exactly what happened. Even then, the poor start to the game left Hallmark shaking his head afterward. Asked how he liked his team’s performance, the coach said, “I didn’t love it.”

“I like winning,” Hallmark said. “I mean, winning is nice. But we didn’t play a terrific game. We were fortunate to win.”

Owens came to the rescue for the Roadrunners in the second inning. The Bobcats had a couple of runners on base and were threatening to blow the game open when Aaron Lugo produced an RBI single to right field to make it 5-0.

That’s when Owens started to get tough.

With two runners aboard, he got Texas State RBI machine Daylan Pena on a ground ball to end the inning. Owens (4-1) went on to complete 2 and 2/3 innings to earn the victory. Though he yielded four hits, he steadied his team by throwing strikes and blanking the Bobcats in the third and fourth innings.

By then, the bats had come alive. King highlighted a three-run second inning with a leadoff homer. In the third, he drove in another run with a double into the gap in left field. By the fourth, the Bobcats were reeling. A couple of batters hit by pitch loaded the bases for Lytle, who hit a ball over the left field wall for a grand slam and an 8-5 lead.

A few innings later, Isaiah Walker stoked the excitement in the home crowd when he laced a drive down the right field line that went for a three-run double. UTSA, at that point, was rolling. The Roadrunners were up 11-6.

Isaiah Walker hit a three-run double in the sixth inning. UTSA beat Texas State 11-9 in non-conference baseball on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Isaiah Walker connects on a three-run double in the sixth inning. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The Bobcats made it interesting late when Chase Mora drove in a run in the seventh, and then August Ramirez sparkled in the eighth with a a 2-run homer to center field. Ramirez, a fifth-year senior from nearby O’Connor High School, made it 11-9 with his eye-opening, line-drive over the batters’ eye.

But just as things started to get a little hairy for the Roadrunners, Kingsbery entered the game and retired the one batter he faced in the eighth and all three in the ninth for the save. Kingsbery showed raw emotion after getting Ramirez on a swinging third strike, tossing his glove to the ground and screaming with delight.

“Battle of I-35,” Owens said, when asked about the fire among UTSA players immediately after the game. “I mean, they were chirping us. Like, their fans, they chirped us pretty good when we played at their place. We were just excited to beat ’em here.”

For UTSA, the victory was cleansing, in a way. It rinsed off some of the disappointment from losing two of three last weekend in an AAC road series at Rice. Entering the series, UTSA was tied for the lead in the conference and Rice was tied for eighth place. Owens suggested that maybe the Roadrunners took them too lightly.

Pat Hallmark. UTSA beat Texas State 11-9 in non-conference baseball on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Pat Hallmark reached a career milestone with his 200th victory. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“We just came out dead,” Owens said. “I think we thought we already had it in the bag before we even started playing. Didn’t keep the chip on our shoulder.”

If anything positive came from the trip to Houston, Owens said it may have been a learning experience, in that it just goes to show that “no team is an easy win.” Trailing East Carolina by two games in the AAC race with three weekends remaining, UTSA will play conference series against Wichita State and South Florida at home and then against Florida Atlantic on the road. The AAC tournament is scheduled for May 21-26 at BayCare Ballpark in Clearwater, Fla.

“We know we we’ve got to fight against every team,” Owens said.

JB’s Video Replay

Matt King, a UTSA junior from Kingwood Park High School, barrels a ball over the wall in left field to ignite a three-run second inning for the Roadrunners.

UTSA freshman Whitt Joyce, who played at Medina Valley High School, rips a double to left in the second inning.

UTSA’s Mason Lytle, an Oregon transfer from Pearland High, belts a grand slam in the fourth inning for the Roadrunners. He has hit 10 homers this season.

Isaiah Walker, a junior from Manvel High School, laces a double down the right field line to score three runs for UTSA in the sixth.

Texas State graduate senior August Ramirez from O’Connor High School slammed a two-run blast over the center field wall in the seventh. – Video courtesy of Texas State athletics

UTSA righthander Fischer Kingsbery strikes out August Ramirez to end the game and then flings his glove to the ground as an exclamation mark an 11-9 victory over Texas State.

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