Malone gets opening-day start for UTSA against Tarleton State

UTSA pitcher Luke Malone got the win against Florida International on Friday, April 22, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

Pitcher Luke Malone is expected to take the mound tonight in the season-opener for the UTSA Roadrunners, who will host the Tarleton State Texans in the opener of a three-game series. – File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Temperatures that could dip into the 30s are expected for the UTSA baseball team’s season opener tonight against the Tarleton State Texans at Roadrunner Field.

Senior righthander Luke Malone is expected to start for the Roadrunners against the Texans’ hard-throwing righty, Will Stevens, with first pitch set for at 6 p.m.

UTSA, of Conference USA, and Tarleton, a third-year Division I program in the Western Athletic Conference, will play again Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.

“Everybody’s ready to go,” UTSA coach Pat Hallmark said in an interview on Thursday afternoon after his team’s final preseason practice.

Hallmark said he is unsure of his batting order, though it could be first baseman Garrett Poston leading off, followed by Shane Sirdashney in center field, Leyton Barry at second base and Taylor Smith at designated hitter.

After that, in an order to be determined, fans could see shortstop Matt King, catcher Josh Killeen and third baseman Antonio Valdez among those in the fifth through ninth spots.

The remaining two presumably would be between several players vying for corner outfield positions, including Garrett Brooks, Tye Odom, Isaiah Walker, Caleb Hill and Dalton Porter.

Regardless of the batters in UTSA’s opening-day lineup, they are expected to be challenged by Stevens, a transfer from Wichita State.

Hallmark said he had the pitching machine at Thursday’s practice cranked up to get his players ready for 100-mph fastballs.

The coach expressed cautious optimism about what to expect from his team on opening weekend.

“I think everyone thinks they’re ready until somebody exposes you a little bit,” Hallmark said. “I’ve been around long enough to know, we’ll find a little bit out about ourselves … There’ll be some good and some bad. Hopefully it’ll be a lot more good.”

UTSA will play eight home games over the next 10 days, so fans will likely see much of the Roadrunners’ pitching arsenal. Newcomer Robbie Maldonado is expected to start Saturday and Ulises Quiroga on Sunday.

The back end of the bullpen is one of the team’s strengths, highlighted by Simon Miller and Daniel Shafer.

UTSA had four players named to the preseason all Conference USA squad, led by Barry, a .349 hitter last year, Malone, Miller and Shafer. Malone led UTSA with a 9-3 record and a 2.67 earned run average.

“I expect we’ll throw strikes,” Hallmark said. “I’d be surprised if we don’t throw strikes. Again, I might be surprised. But we got some pitchers back from last year. Some of them (are) proven strike throwers … We played all fall and for the last five weeks, and we’ve been throwing strikes — at least, the guys that you’re going to see initially.”

Pitching rotations

According to the Tarleton State athletics website, here are the starters (with the Texans listed first) matched against the Roadrunners, whose starter were announced Thursday by UTSA coach Pat Hallmark.

Friday: RHP Will Stevens vs. RHP Luke Malone
Saturday: LHP Dylan Delvecchio vs. LHP Robbie Maldonado
Sunday: RHP Hunter Day vs. RHP Ulises Quiroga


This year’s Roadrunners have a tough act to follow. Last year, they dazzled UTSA fans with one of the better seasons in school history. They went 38-20 and reached the championship game of the Conference USA tournament. Though they failed to make the NCAA tournament, they won 11 games against ranked teams and finished a program-best 37th in the RPI.