Loopy swings? UTSA explodes for 15 hits in a 7-2 victory to sweep WKU

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

At the risk of nit-picking a program that very well may have something special going this season, the UTSA Roadrunners have looked out of sorts at the plate lately. Coach Pat Hallmark has acknowledged that the swings have been “a little loopy,” which often leads to weak contact.

Digging down deep in the energy reserves and taking it back to the basics, UTSA players worked diligently in batting practice the past few days in an effort to iron out the glitches, and it all paid dividends Sunday with a 15-hit barrage, a 7-2 victory over the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and a sweep of a three-game Conference USA home series.

“I know our offense has been struggling in the past few games,” UTSA outfielder Shane Sirdashney said. “We kind of went back to the basics in (batting practice) today and yesterday. We just kind of put it on display today (and) bought in with Coach Hallmark’s approach at the plate. I’m just glad we got the hitting rolling today going into next week. To get the sweep, it felt good.”

With the victory, UTSA (23-6, 8-1) stayed in firm control of first place in the C-USA through three weekends of play. Western Kentucky (16-13, 2-7) sent hard-throwing lefty Devyn Terbak to the mound, but UTSA lit him up with two runs in the second, one in the third and three in the fifth to take charge.

Sirdashney led the uprising with four hits, including a solo home run. Matt King had three hits and Antonio Valdez, Taylor Smith and Leyton Barry two apiece. For Hallmark, it was a welcome change from the first two games of the series when Hilltoppers pitching went for extended stretches stringing zeroes on the scoreboard against the Roadrunners.

UTSA had only four hits in a 3-2 victory Friday night and then six in a 5-4 decision Saturday afternoon. As a result, batting practice for the Roadrunners started at 9:30 a.m. for the series finale, which would start at 12:30 p.m.

“The bats came back a little bit today, which was nice to see,” Hallmark said. “We pitched well again. But it was important to get those bats going. The guys have been working really hard. Hitting is cyclical like this, where it comes and goes. That’s just the nature of it.

“Big league hitters, the best ones, don’t always hit. The guys have been very persistent, trusting (the process) and it worked out today.”

Hallmark acknowledged the emphasis on a different approach at the plate.

“We’ve been a little loopy,” the coach said. “There’s been a little bit of what we call length of arc in our swings. So we’ve just been working at it. You know, it wasn’t like we just worked at it today. We’ve been working at it for awhile. But sometimes it manifests itself later than what you want.

“Those guys have some good pitching, so that’s part of it, too. But today it did work itself out.”

Drake Smith, Daniel Garza and Braylon Owens combined to hold the Hilltoppers to eight hits. Between the three of them, they didn’t walk a batter. Garza (4-1) earned the victory with 4 and 2/3 innings of relief, allowing only one run.

Defensive plays also had the fans in the grandstands buzzing from time to time. After allowing a ball to get over his head for a double, Sirdashney ended one inning with a catch and a perfect relay throw to King, who fired to third to cut down a runner. A few innings later, King stole a hit with a diving stab of a low and sinking line drive.


Western Kentucky 16-13, 2-7
UTSA 23-6, 8-1

Coming up

UTSA at Incarnate Word, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.
UTSA at Charlotte, Thursday, 5 p.m.
UTSA at Charlotte, Friday, 5 p.m.
UTSA at Charlotte, Saturday, noon

Today’s video replay