Baseball: UTSA rallies on the road to stun Houston

By Jerry Briggs
For The JB Replay

Ruger Riojas pitched three scoreless innings following an offensive explosion that featured three straight solo homers and six straight runs, as the UTSA Roadrunners rallied on the road to beat the Houston Cougars, 8-7, Tuesday afternoon.

UTSA's Ruger Riojas pitching against Incarnate Word on March 1, 2023, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Ruger Riojas yielded one hit across three scoreless innings to earn his first save of the season. – File photo by Joe Alexander

It was UTSA’s best victory of the season, a welcome development for a ball club that had lost five of its first eight.

Credit the Roadrunners for not dropping their heads after they fell behind by five runs against the Cougars, who are playing their inaugural season as a member of the Big 12. Houston bunched four hits and scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth to open a 7-2 lead.

UH leadoff man Jake Rainess sparked the outburst with a double. Rainess, a transfer who played for the America East champion Maine Black Bears last season, finished the day with two hits and two runs scored.

After the Cougars took charge, the Roadrunners answered in the top of the sixth with three straight, no-out home runs — first by Caleb Hill and then by Matt King and Alex Olivo. For Hill, it was his second homer of the game and his fourth of the season. All of the blasts in the sixth came off lefthander Jose Torrealba.

Just like that, the UTSA bench was energized. The visiting team, losers of two of three at the Houston-area Sugar Land Classic last weekend, added three more runs in the top of the seventh to take the lead.

Hill drove in one run with a single, his third hit of the day. King followed with a triple to center to make it 7-7 and then scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch.

Meanwhile, Riojas entered the ball game in the bottom of the seventh as the sixth Roadrunners pitcher of the day. He would also be the last.

Riojas pitched three scoreless, allowing only one hit, to finish off the Cougars. The sophomore righthander from Wimberley struck out two and walked one.

In the ninth, Houston pinch hitter Kenneth Jimenez battled Riojas in his inning-opening at bat, only to pop up in foul territory to third. After that, Rainess struck out swinging and Alex Lopez flied to right.

Drake Smith (1-0) pitched 1 and 2/3 innings to earn his first victory of the season for UTSA. Riojas notched the nine-out save and lowered his earned run average to a team-leading 1.59.


UTSA 4-5
Houston 6-2

UTSA season results

Feb. 16 – L, 9-10, UT-Arlington
Feb. 17 – W, 7-2, UT-Arlington
Feb. 17 – W, 2-1, UT-Arlington
Feb. 18 – L, 4-5, UT-Arlington
Feb. 20 – L, 10-14, at Tarleton State
Feb. 23 – W, 7-6, SFA at Sugar Land Classic
Feb. 24 – L, 1-4, Creighton at Sugar Land Classic
Feb. 25 – L, 3-5, Lamar at Sugar Land Classic
Feb. 27 – W, 8-7, at Houston

Coming up

Grand Canyon (Ariz.) at UTSA, Friday, 6 p.m.
Grand Canyon at UTSA, Saturday, 2 p.m.
Grand Canyon at UTSA, Sunday, 1 p.m.

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