UTSA beats FAU 3-2 in 10 innings to clinch second in the American

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The UTSA Roadrunners scored on a catcher’s interference call in the top of the 10th inning and then held on in the bottom half to beat the Florida Atlantic University Owls, 3-2, Friday night to secure a second-place finish in the American Athletic Conference baseball race.

UTSA ace Ruger Riojas earned his 10th victory of the season when he closed the door in the last inning. With a base runner at third, he fanned FAU’s John Schroeder, who checked his swing but was called out.

Just about the same time that the UTSA-FAU game was going into extra innings in Boca Raton, the 13th-ranked East Carolina Pirates clinched the AAC title with a doubleheader sweep of the Rice Owls.

The Pirates completed their regular-season schedule by winning 15-5 on the run rule in eight innings and then adding a 6-4 victory in the nightcap. In the second game, East Carolina fell behind 4-2 but rallied to win.

In Boca Raton, UTSA led most of the way against FAU behind the pitching of Zach Royse and Daniel Garza. The home-team Owls made it interesting at the end, scoring twice in the bottom of the eighth to tie it.

Garza started the eighth and allowed a couple of hits to open the inning, putting runners at first and second base. At that point, UTSA coach Pat Hallmark called on his ace, Riojas, who replaced Garza.

Riojas appeared to have good stuff but Jalen DeBose greeted him by fighting off a pitch and blooping it into right field for an RBI single.

After a sacrifice bunt moved runners to second and third, Schroeder hit it hard down the line in left. The drive was caught by Caleb Hill, but it brought in the tying run to make it 2-2.

With Danny Trehey pitching for FAU, opposite Riojas for UTSA, neither team could score in the ninth inning. Trehey was good in the clutch. Following a two-out walk to Alexander Olivo, he struck out UTSA’s Caleb Hill to end the inning. Then it was Riojas’ turn, and he retired three straight.

The 10th inning was tense for both teams.

UTSA loaded the bases against Trehey on an error and a couple of walks. With two outs, injury-hobbled Tye Odom entered the game as a pinch hitter. On a 2-1 count, Odom swung and missed, but the home-plate ump called catcher’s interference.

FAU asked for a review, but umpires upheld the original call. Florida Atlantic catcher Andrew McKenna was ruled to have interfered with Odom’s swing.

With the bases still loaded and UTSA looking to improve on its one-run lead, Trehey got out of the jam when Mason Lytle flied to right field.

Not to be outdone, FAU tried to rally against Riojas, with Brando Leroux rapping a single to right field. He advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and took third on a fly ball to center. At that point, Schroeder stepped to the plate.

On a 1-2 count, he tried to check his swing on a ball that appeared to veer outside the strike zone, only to be called out.

Riojas (10-3) earned the victory with three scoreless innings of relief. The sophomore from Wimberley allowed two hits and one walk and struck out three.

Trehey (3-3) was the hard-luck loser. The 6-4 senior pitched two innings, did not allow a hit and gave up the winning run, which was unearned. He walked three and struck out three.


FAU 25-27, 11-15
UTSA 32-21, 17-9

AAC leaders

East Carolina 19-8, 40-13
UTSA 17-9, 32-21

Coming up

AAC regular-season finale: UTSA at FAU, Saturday at noon
AAC tournament, Tuesday through next Sunday (May 21-26), at Clearwater, Fla.


With 14-1 and 3-2 victories at Boca Raton, the Roadrunners have clinched the series. They have won seven out of nine series in their inaugural season in the American.

Ruger Riojas keeps stacking up some staggering individual totals. In 24 appearances, he has pitched 64 and 2/3 innings. Riojas has struck out 70 batters and walked only 17. In yielding only 23 earned runs, his ERA for the season is 3.20.

He is 10-3 in the win-loss column, with seven saves. In a quick check of NCAA Division I statistics, he may be one of only two pitchers in Division I baseball with the 10-win, seven-save combination, the other being Nick Wissman of Dayton.

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