Baseball: Roadrunners to open AAC play against the defending champion East Carolina Pirates

Caleb Hill scores in the seventh inning on a hit by Matt King. UTSA scored four runs in the seventh inning to rally past Rice 9-7 in Conference USA baseball on Friday, May 5, 2023, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Caleb Hill and the UTSA Roadrunners will test the nationally-ranked East Carolina Pirates in a three-game series starting Friday at Roadrunner Field. – File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Defeated 14-13 on the road at Texas State on Tuesday night, the UTSA Roadrunners will prepare in the next few days for their historic first game in the American Athletic Conference. They’ll play Friday night at home against the 11th-ranked East Carolina Pirates.

East Carolina (15-4) will arrive at Roadrunner Field for a three-game series as the most accomplished baseball program in the AAC. The Greenville, N.C.-based Pirates have won four straight AAC regular-season championships.

Led by 10th-year coach Cliff Godwin, East Carolina has qualified for five straight NCAA tournaments, playing in the national event every year since 2018. During their streak, they stayed home only in 2020 when most of the season and the tournament was canceled because of the pandemic.

In the final analysis, the Roadrunners will have their hands full as they play their inaugural AAC weekend series following 10 seasons in Conference USA. While the Pirates have won eight straight games, the Roadrunners (10-11) have struggled to find consistency.

Matched against certain teams, their pitching has been vulnerable. Texas State, for instance, sent 16 batters to the plate and scored nine runs in the first inning Tuesday night in San Marcos. Roadrunners pitching walked 11 batters against the Bobcats.

The Roadrunners’ offense, in turn, always seems to give them a chance. Trailing by five runs after the first inning and by six runs after the third against the Bobcats, they battled back with 14 hits, including four home runs.

Tye Odom, Caleb Hill and Matt King sent balls over the fence in the second inning and freshman Diego Diaz added another in the ninth. A two-run blast by Diaz pulled the Roadrunners to within one run before the Bobcats shut down the rally.

Hill leads with a .419 batting average and seven home runs. Lytle, a transfer from Oregon, has made a major impact in his first season. Outside of starting in center field and leading the team in stolen bases with nine, he ranks among the team’s leaders in average (.359), home runs (four) and RBIs (19).

As a team, they’re hitting .305.


East Carolina 15-4
UTSA 10-11


The Pirates are ranked 11th in the nation by D1 Baseball and 12th by Baseball America. Pirates pitcher Trey Yesavage is the No. 36 prospect for the 2024 MLB draft, according to This season, the 6-foot-4 righthander, a second-team All-American last year, is 4-0 with a 1.20 earned run average. He has struck out 49 and walked nine in 30 innings.