By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay
After more than an hour of weather-related delay, the second game of the Conference USA baseball series between the UTSA Roadrunners and the FIU Panthers in Miami has been suspended.
The game will re-start on Sunday morning at 9:15 a.m. (central time), with the Roadrunners leading the Panthers, 9-6, according to a tweet from the FIU baseball program’s Twitter feed. The Panthers will be at bat with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The third and final game of the series will start 30 minutes after Game 2’s completion. UTSA won the first game, 22-8, on Friday night.
On Saturday, the Roadrunners jumped out to leads of 4-1 and 6-3 before the Panthers scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth to tie it.
In the sixth, UTSA responded with a three-run rally to make it 9-6. Garrett Poston, who hammered a solo homer in the second inning, delivered a two-run double in the uprising.
Poston’s three RBIs give him seven in the two games in Miami thus far.
UTSA at FIU, Sunday at 9:15 a.m. (completion of Game Two)
UTSA at FIU, Sunday, 30 minutes afterward
UTSA 29-9, 13-2
FIU 15-23, 3-13
UTSA 13-2, 29-9
Dallas Baptist 15-3, 31-9
The FIU Panthers gave the ball to righthander Jackson Ritchey, while the UTSA Roadrunners went with righty Drake Smith in Game 2 of a C-USA series in Miami.
In the top of the first inning, Ritchey came out strong and wild. While he walked one, he struck out three to keep the Roadrunners off the board. FIU opened the bottom of the first against Smith with consecutive singles by Mike Rosario, Dante Girardi, Alec Sanchez and Ruben Carpio to take a 1-0 lead. Smith retired Ryne Guida on a foul pop and fanned Adrian Figueroa, leaving three baserunners stranded, to end the threat.
UTSA exploded in the top of the second inning with four runs on three homers. After Caleb Hill opened the inning with a walk, Sammy Diaz hit a two-run blast to left field. One out later, Garrett Poston pulled a ball to right field for a solo home run. Not to be outdone, Leyton Barry hit a two-out solo shot to the opposite field in left for a 4-1 UTSA lead.
In the bottom of the second, FIU responded with inning-opening singles by Craig Palidar and Noel Perez. After Smith steadied himself to strike out Rosario and Girardi, Sanchez walked to load the bases. Carpio followed with a two-RBI single to left, trimming the UTSA lead to 4-3. With two runners on, Guida flied out to left to end the inning.
FIU went to the bullpen after two innings and brought in Kevin Martin, who held the explosive Roadrunners scoreless through the third and the fourth innings. In the bottom of the fourth, the Roadrunners lifted Smith for Ruger Riojas. Smith finished his day’s work with three innings, three runs allowed, seven hits and one walk. He also struck out six. Riojas gave up a hit in the bottom of the fourth but kept the Panthers off the scoreboard.
Panthers pitching walked a couple and committed a throwing error in the top of the fifth as UTSA scored twice. First, Martin walked Leyton Barry and Barry moved up on the error by Martin. After Valdez walked, both runners moved up when Daniel McAuliff fired a wild pitch. Barry and Valdez both scored on a ground ball by King for a 6-3 UTSA lead.
Undeterred, the Panthers came out strong against Riojas in the bottom half. Consecutive singles against the UTSA freshmen by Carpio, Guida and Adrian Figueroa produced one run. With two out, Noel Perez ripped a two-run single to tie it, 6-6. The inning ended when UTSA catcher Sammy Diaz threw out Perez at second trying to steal.
Did UTSA flinch at the adversity? Not hardly. McAuliff opened the top of the sixth by walking Diaz and Dalton Porter, and then Poston broke up the tie game with a two-run double to right center. The outburst prompted FIU to lift McAuliff for lefthander Ryan Cabarcas. Pinch hitter Isaiah Walker bunted Poston to third base, and then Leyton Barry brought him home with an RBI single and a 9-6 lead for the Roadrunners. The rally continued as Taylor Smith singled, but Cabarcas escaped further trouble by retiring Antonio Valdez and Matt King.
Responding to the momentum, Riojas blanked the Panthers in the bottom of the sixth. Giving up only a two-out single to Sanchez, he fanned Carpio — his second strikeout of the inning — to send the game to the top of the seventh with the Roadrunners, looking for their second win in two days in Florida, leading by three runs.
In the bottom of the seventh, Riojas starts his fourth inning and gets an out. But action is halted at that juncture when officials cleared the field for a lightning delay. A tough break for both teams but especially for the Panthers, who are swinging the bats well. They have outhit the Roadrunners 13-7 and have punched out 31 hits in the first two games of the series.
Dallas Baptist update
The Dallas Baptist Patriots set a school record with their 13th and 14th straight victories Saturday afternoon when they downed the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 11-3 and 10-5 in Dallas in a Conference USA doubleheader. The Patriots have won 11 in a row in conference.
UTSA routed FIU 22-8 in Friday’s series opener. The team’s 22 runs and 21 hits were both season highs for a road game. The totals ranked second overall to 31 runs and 25 hits on March 11 in a 31-6 victory at home over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Grand slams by Taylor Smith and Matt King were the first this season for the Roadrunners. Smith’s six RBIs were a season high for the senior from Georgetown. His three hits tied his season high. King’s four hits and five RBIs tied season highs for the the sophomore from Kingwood Park. King has had five RBI games twice since April 14.