AAC baseball: UTSA looks for a bounce-back weekend against South Florida

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The second-place UTSA Roadrunners have seven games remaining in the regular season, including three at home this weekend against the South Florida Bulls, to rekindle their title hopes before the American Athletic Conference tournament.

Pat Hallmark. 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 has lost two straight and four of its last seven, but history shows that it only takes a spark to ignite a Pat Hallmark-coached team in May. – Photo by Joe Alexander

First pitch between South Florida and UTSA is at 6 tonight.

For six UTSA players, the weekend has added meaning in that it’s likely the last time they will suit up at Roadrunner Field.

Daniel Garza, Ulises Quiroga, Ryan Ward, Alexander Olivo, Caleb Hill and Fischer Kingsbery all will be recognized Saturday in a Senior Day ceremony.

For the team, the last two weekends haven’t gone as planned. Rice won two of three from UTSA in Houston from April 26-28.

After the Roadrunners downed I-35 rival Texas State in non-conference, they hosted the Wichita State Shockers last weekend and dropped two of three on their home field.

Overall, UTSA is 3-4 in its last seven coming into the series opener tonight against South Florida.

UTSA’s last two games, in particular, dampened momentum considerably. Playing a doubleheader at home last Saturday, the Roadrunners dropped both to the Shockers, 11-2 and 8-4.

In the series finale, they established a 2-0 lead through six shutout innings behind starting pitcher Braylon Owens and couldn’t close the deal.

Even though the Roadrunners had posted a 21-1 record on the season with a lead going into the seventh, they couldn’t hold on.

But, as disappointed as fans may be at the moment, it’s best to remind that it only takes a few sparks to ignite a team coached by Pat Hallmark in May.

If the Roadrunners are looking for inspiration, they could consider their circumstances in 2022, when they were locked in the Conference USA title race in the last month and proceeded to drop three league games in a row.

Regardless, on the last weekend of the regular season, they bounced back from an 11-run loss at home to the UAB Blazers and beat UAB twice in the next two days.

At the C-USA tournament, they kept playing well, winning three in a row, including two straight from a nationally-ranked, top-seeded host in Southern Miss. The Roadrunners completed a 38-win season with a 9-8 loss to the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in the title game.

Tonight’s opponent, the Bulls, are deep in the doldrums.

They’re slumping at 3-12 in their last 15. Moreover, they’ve dropped their last three series in conference to fall into a tie for seventh in the standings, though they did defeat AAC leader East Carolina 5-4 on the road last Sunday.

Tampa-based South Florida traveled to Gainesville and lost Tuesday night to the Southeastern Conference’s Florida Gators, 4-1. Based on recent history, it would not be wise to count out Coach Billy Mohl’s Bulls, either.

In 2021, they enjoyed a memorable ride, taking a losing record into the AAC tournament before rising up to claim the conference’s postseason title and the NCAA automatic bid. The Bulls beat the Central Florida Knights to advance.

Later, they used the momentum to barge into the NCAA Gainesville Regional and won it, defeating host Florida in the opener and then Miami before knocking off South Alabama in the title game. Advancing to the Super Regional round, they were finally eliminated in Austin by the Texas Longhorns.

In two weeks, eight of the AAC’s 10 baseball programs will congregate in Florida to play for the NCAA’s automatic bid. The tournament is scheduled for May 21-26 in Clearwater. The NCAA tournament starts the next weekend.

Right now, East Carolina is considered as a strong contender to host an NCAA first-weekend regional.


South Florida 23-25, 9-12
UTSA 27-20, 13-8

Coming up

AAC series – South Florida at UTSA
Friday – 6 p.m.
Saturday – 2 p.m.
Sunday – 11 a.m.

Tuesday, May 14 – UIW at UTSA, 6 p.m.

AAC regular-season finale
May 16 – UTSA at Florida Atlantic, 5:30 p.m.
May 17 – UTSA at Florida Atlantic, 3 p.m.
May 18 – UTSA at Florida Atlantic, 11 a.m.

AAC standings

East Carolina 16-5, 37-10
UTSA 13-8, 27-20
Charlotte 11-10, 22-27
Tulane 10-11, 26-23
FAU 10-11, 24-22
Wichita State 10-11, 24-26
South Florida 9-12, 23-25
UAB 9-12, 22-25
Rice 9-12, 19-30
Memphis 8-13, 21-28

This weekend

Memphis at UAB; South Florida at UTSA; Charlotte at Wichita State; East Carolina at Tulane, Florida Atlantic at Rice

AAC tournament

At Clearwater, Fla. May 21-26


The Bulls have played in the NCAA tournament four times since 2015, including twice under head coach Billy Mohl since 2018.

The Roadrunners are in their fifth season under head coach Pat Hallmark. They won 38 games in each of the past two years but came up short of an NCAA bid each time. UTSA has not been to the NCAA tournament since the 2013 team made it under former head coach Jason Marshall, whose team claimed the automatic bid out of the Western Athletic Conference.

UTSA played in Conference USA in a 10-year span from 2014 through 2023 and before starting in the American this year.

Roadrunners freshman Rob Orloski, the team’s Friday night starter for most of the season, did not pitch in the Wichita State series last weekend. It was the first time this spring that he was not on the mound for a weekend game. His status for South Florida hasn’t been announced. Orloski, who memorably beat East Carolina in the AAC opener at Roadrunner Field on March 22, last pitched on April 30 against Texas State. He started and pitched to four batters before he was relieved.

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