Wild celebration follows Incarnate Word’s ninth-inning rally for a 9-6 victory over 24th-ranked UTSA

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Athletes were jumping up and down and cups of water were flying everywhere. Even a large water cooler went airborne at one point over a gaggle of ball players celebrating at home plate.

This is how the night’s activity ended after a Tuesday night battle between San Antonio’s two NCAA Division I baseball teams.

Paced by clutch hitting from Alec Carr and Rey Mendoza, the University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals rallied from a two-run deficit with five runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, coming from behind on their home field for an emotional 9-6 victory over the 24th-ranked UTSA Roadrunners.

With the victory, UIW improved to 6-2 over its last eight games and to 13-7 over its last 20 since falling 2-1 to UTSA at Roadrunner Field back on March 1.

In the ninth inning, the Cardinals took advantage of a couple of walks and another batter hit by a pitch to load the bases against UTSA reliever Daniel Shafer.

Up stepped Carr, who stroked a one-out, two-run single to tie the game. It looked like extra innings might be in store when Shafer retired Hernan Yanez on a ground ball for the second out.

But with two men remaining on the bases, Mendoza, a left-side hitting grad transfer from the University of Houston, knew what to do.

He fouled off a pitch and then yanked the next offering way over the wall in right field for a three-run homer, the game winner.

How did Mendoza feel about it all?

“Phenomenal,” he said. “I mean, it couldn’t happen without the guys right next to me in the dugout, you know. The pitchers, they pitched great all game, and we hung around. We were able to make something happen in the ninth inning. Good things happen when you keep it simple.”

Mendoza looked calm as he stepped into the plate for his at bat.

“We knew that against lefties, he was throwing a lot of sliders,” he said. “I got a slider first pitch, and I hooked a foul. Then I saw it out of his hand again, and I put a good swing on it.”

In the teams’ previous meeting, UTSA won the game with a double steal of home plate by Antonio Valdez. If that didn’t sting enough, UIW players watched as the Roadrunners rolled to victory after victory and finally into a national ranking for the first time this week.

UTSA was ranked in three polls on Monday, the most notable being Baseball America magazine’s No. 24.

“We knew,” Mendoza said. “We found out before the game. We were just like, ‘It’s another day. It’s just another day at the park. We’ve been doing this for a lot of months now. We just took it as another day at the park, did what we did and came out on top.”


Incarnate Word 16-13
UTSA 23-7

Coming up

UIW, a three-game series in the Southland Conference at Nicholls State (La.), from Thursday through Saturday.

UTSA, a three-game series in Conference USA at Charlotte (N.C.), from Thursday through Saturday.