In the race for a title in the American? For UTSA, it’s time to pump it up

UTSA players get their groove on with the ‘Pump It Up’ song playing in the stadium before the bottom of the eighth inning. After the music subsided, the Roadrunners came to bat, tacked on three runs and defeated the Incarnate Word Cardinals 13-3 on the run rule. – The JB Replay

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Up and down the lineup, everyone made solid contact. From Mason Lytle at the top of the batting order, to Zane Spinn in the nine hole, everyone seemed to square up the baseball at least once on Tuesday night.

Eight of nine UTSA starters had at least one base hit and the one who didn’t, Whitt Joyce, was robbed of a single on a hot smash that was speared by Incarnate Word Cardinals third baseman Ryder Hernandez.

Alexander Olivo. UTSA beat Incarnate Word 13-3 in non-conference baseball on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Alexander Olivo went three for five with two doubles and three RBI in UTSA’s home finale against UIW. – Photo by Joe Alexander

In the end, UTSA won its 30th game of the season on the run rule, 13-3, on Mark Henning’s two-out, RBI single in the bottom of the eighth. All in all, it was a good way to finish the home schedule before embarking on a road trip to Florida.

Awaiting UTSA immediately is a three-game series in Boca Raton at Florida Atlantic to close the regular season. The series starts Thursday, with UTSA sitting in second place in the American Athletic Conference.

After that, they’ll take a bus to Clearwater, where the postseason will commence. The AAC tournament will run from May 21-26 at the BayShore Ballpark..

Roadrunners designated hitter Alexander Olivo said the manner in which his teammates won the UIW game — in a rout, going away – was important.

“It’s good for us to get a little momentum going into Florida Atlantic and the conference tournament,” Olivo said. “You know how it goes. In postseason baseball, it’s who gets hot at the right time. So, we’re just kind of looking to get rolling. The pitching’s been great so far. Everything’s been great.

“We just need that little extra offense to get us going and I think we’ll be just fine, and we’ll use that momentum to go into the tournament.”

UIW's Dalton Beck. UTSA beat Incarnate Word 13-3 in non-conference baseball on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UIW’s Dalton Beck came into the UTSA game ranking the Southland Conference in batting average at .391. Roadrunners pitching held him to one for four. The hit was a high-hop double that bounced over the first baseman’s head in the seventh inning. – Photo by Joe Alexander


UIW 24-27
UTSA 30-21

Coming up

AAC series: UTSA at Florida Atlantic
Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
Friday at 3 p.m.
Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

AAC tournament: At Clearwater, Fla.
May 21-26


Going into the final weekend, the first-place East Carolina Pirates (16-8 in the AAC, 37-13 overall) have a one-game lead on the Roadrunners (15-9, 30-21).

East Carolina plays its last three at home against Rice. For UTSA to come from behind to claim a share of the title or win it outright, and to do it on the road, it sounds like a tough chore.

Then again, who knows?

“I think the biggest thing for us is to not really focus on what everyone else is doing,” Olivo said. “We can only control what we can control. That’s kind of what Coach (Pat) Hallmark and (Assistant) Coach (Ryan) Aguayo have talked about all year.

Zach Longshore. UTSA beat Incarnate Word 13-3 in non-conference baseball on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Lefty Zach Longshore pitched one shutout inning, in the fifth, allowing only a double to UIW’s Grant Randall. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“Control what you can control. After that, we have to just leave it up to destiny and God … If we go over there to FAU and play our game, we have to hope that Rice helps us out. But first, do our job.”

Kind of strange to root for Rice, right?

“Yeah, it is,” Olivo said. “But, whatever it takes.”

Coming into the UIW game, the Roadrunners needed a boost. In their previous 10 games, they had struggled offensively, hitting .257, almost 50 points below their season average.

In that stretch, a team that has been suffering from some injury issues had averaged 5.1 runs per game. Things are starting to change just a bit, though. The Roadrunners hit .278 in winning two of three against South Florida last weekend.

They followed up with 12 hits in 34 at bats (.352) against the Cardinals, including five hits that went for doubles.

“We’ve been talking that, as an offense, since Rice, we haven’t been ourselves,” Hallmark said. “I think we’re a better hitting team than we were at Rice and in the two home series (against Wichita State and South Florida). But, tonight was good.

“We’ve just been trying to be a little more aggressive in the strike zone. Little what I call violent swings. A little bit dangerous.

“You know, maybe we might not crush it, but if you do hit it, they’re going to do some damage, instead of some of the most passive swings. I thought we did that tonight.”

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