UTSA aims for victory No. 21 tonight against Western Kentucky

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Sitting in first place in the Conference USA baseball race, the UTSA Roadrunners host the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers tonight at 6. UTSA and WKU also will play Saturday and Sunday afternoon to complete a three-game series. All games will be played on campus at Roadrunner Field.

UTSA (20-6, 5-1 C-USA) has won its first two series in conference play, sweeping the FAU Owls at home on March 17-19 and then winning two of three at Rice University in Houston last weekend. WKU (16-10, 2-4) lost two of three at Middle Tennessee before dropping two of three at home last week against Louisiana Tech.

Winning games at a rate that is slightly off a school-record pace, UTSA has notched 20 victories by the end of March for only the second time in program history. In 1994, UTSA started out 24-9 before April 1, going on to finish the season 39-18. The ’94 team reached the NCAA tournament, playing in a regional at Austin.

After sweeping FAU two weeks ago, UTSA had won 10 straight for an 18-3 record on the season. Since then, the Roadrunners have cooled off a bit, losing 5-3 at UT Rio Grande Valley on March 21, losing in the middle of the three games at Rice, 13-8, and then falling at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 8-2 on Tuesday night.

Baylor transfer Antonio Valdez leads the team with a .412 batting average, eight home runs and 40 RBI. Caleb Hill (.363) ranks second on the team in batting average but hasn’t played since he was hit by a pitch on March 24 in the first game of the series at Rice.

Pitcher Luke Malone (2-2, 1.89 ERA) has been the team’s Friday night starter, followed by Uli Quiroga (4-0, 4.35) on Saturdays. Simon Miller (6-0, 0.64) leads the staff in victories and earned run average. Miller has 41 strikeouts in 28 and 1/3 innings. Daniel Shafer (2.35 ERA) leads the team with five saves.


Western Kentucky 16-10, 2-4
UTSA 20-6, 5-1

Coming up

Western Kentucky University at UTSA, today, 6 p.m.
WKU at UTSA, Saturday, 2 p.m.
WKU at UTSA, Sunday, 12:30 p.m.

UT Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros put an end to UTSA’s 10-game winning streak

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

UTSA’s 10-game winning streak came to an end on a windy Tuesday night in Edinburg.

Pitcher J.C. Ariza beat the Roadrunners for the second time in two seasons, throwing five innings to help the UT Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros stop their own five-game losing streak with a 5-3 victory.

Last May, Ariza worked six innings in San Antonio and emerged as the winning pitcher as UTRGV downed UTSA 12-1 at Roadrunner Field.

This time, he came up big again, holding the Roadrunners to five hits and two runs. The 6-foot-5 righthander walked none and struck out four.

With timely hitting, UTRGV scored three times in the second inning off Drake Smith and twice in the fourth against Robbie Maldonado for a 5-0 lead.

UTSA pulled to within 5-2 in the fifth on solo homers by Caleb Hill and Taylor Smith. After that, the UTRGV bullpen stopped the momentum and saved the game for the home team.

In the ninth inning, UTSA put a scare into the home team when Antonio Valdez led off with a solo home run against Sebastian Mejia. Mejia, eventually, would get out of the jam. With a base runner at first, he struck out Garrett Poston for the last out.

UTSA’s winning streak was two shy of the school record. In 1994, the Roadrunners in only their third year as a program won 12 straight under coach Jimmy Shankle.


UTSA 18-4
UTRGV 10-10

Coming up

UTSA at Rice, Friday, 3 p.m.
UTSA at Rice, Saturday, 2 p.m.
UTSA at Rice, Sunday, 1 p.m.

UTSA stays hot, slugging four homers to win on the road at Texas State

Antonio Valdez slammed a home run for the third straight game in a four-homer attack Tuesday night as the UTSA Roadrunners defeated the Interstate-35 rival Texas State Bobcats, 11-2.

UTSA's Antonio Valdez scores the go-ahead run on a double-steal in the bottom of the eighth inning of a 2-1 victory over Incarnate Word at Roadrunner Field on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Antonio Valdez leads the team with a .455 batting average, four home runs and 23 RBIs. – Photo by Joe Alexander

In the game played in San Marcos at the Bobcat Ballpark, UTSA won its third straight with a robust offensive showing (16 hits, including seven for extra bases) and solid pitching (15 strikeouts) divided up between four players.

It was an important victory for UTSA, in that the Roadrunners not only prevailed on the road against a team that reached the NCAA tournament last year, but they also won for bragging rights in a series that has stretched to 100 games.

Even with UTSA winning the last two meetings against Texas State in the series, the Bobcats own a 61-39 edge in the head-to-head matchup between programs whose campuses — both populated by more than 30,000 students — are separated by only about 45 miles.

The next game between the two foes is April 18 at Roadrunner Field.


Texas State 7-5
UTSA 11-3

Coming up

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at UTSA, Friday, 6 p.m.

UTSA erupts for 13 hits to run rule Houston, 12-2, in seven innings

UTSA reliever Simon Miller pitched two scoreless innings. UTSA baseball beat Houston 12-2 in 7 innings on a run rule on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA reliever Simon Miller pitched two scoreless innings Wednesday night to earn the victory. With his performance, the junior from Canton improved his record to 2-0. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Just after UTSA’s Simon Miller shut the door on the Houston Cougars with two innings of shutout relief pitching, Matt King and pinch-hitter Clark Henry laced back-to-back triples down the right-field line Wednesday night to spark a major offensive uprising, lifting the UTSA Roadrunners to a 12-2, run-rule victory.

In all, the Roadrunners victimized the Cougars by stroking 13 hits, including three for extra bases. They also drew nine walks as Houston, a runner-up at the American Athletic Conference tournament last year, used 11 pitchers, with only a few of them doing much to aid the cause.

On the heels of a convincing victory, the Roadrunners improved to 3-1, with all games being played at home. They’ll host the Saint Mary’s (Calif.) Gaels in a four-game set starting Friday night at Roadrunner Field.

UTSA's Clark Henry had a pinch-hit triple and scored on an error. UTSA baseball beat Houston 12-2 in 7 innings on a run rule on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Clark Henry produced a pinch-hit RBI triple and scored on a throwing error, all on one madcap play. – Photo by Joe Alexander

As Miller hung zeroes on the scoreboard in the fifth and sixth innings against Houston, UTSA responded with multiple runs both times against the bedraggled visiting pitching staff. The Roadrunners scored twice in the fifth and six times in the sixth for an 11-0 lead, sending the game into the realm of garbage time.

Even though Houston rallied to score twice in the seventh, UTSA’s Daniel Shafer notched a strikeout to end the threat with the bases loaded. UTSA added a clinching run in the seventh on a Tye Odom RBI double for a 10-run margin, prompting officials to call it a night.

“To win fairly big is nice,” UTSA coach Pat Hallmark said. “We pitched OK. We can pitch better. We didn’t throw enough strikes. Simon Miller was great. A lot of people try to use their best bullpen arm late, but I’m going to try to use Simon when the game’s on the line, and it was.”

UTSA had scored one run in the first inning and two in the third for a 3-0 lead. The score remained the same leading into the top of the fifth, when Hallmark made the call for Miller to enter the game.

“It worked out (for us),” Hallmark said. “It’s not always going to work out that way. You might wake up in the ninth inning and wish you had him and you already pitched him, but I’m not going to let him go to waste. I’m going to use him when we need him, and we needed him right there.”

Miller, a hard-throwing righthander, yielded a couple of hits to lead off the fifth inning, but he escaped from the jam. With runners at first and second and nobody out, Miller struck out pinch hitter Jacob Schoenvogel. Next, Brandon Burckel flied to right field to advance a runner to third base. But in crunch time, Miller won the battle, with Brandon Uhse grounding out to end the threat.

In the sixth, he retired three straight, finishing it off with another ground ball out, this one from preseason all-AAC pick Anthony Tulimero.

UTSA third baseman Antonio Valdez. UTSA baseball beat Houston 12-2 in 7 innings on a run rule on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA third baseman Antonio Valdez plays a ball on a big hop against the Houston Cougars. – Photo by Joe Alexander


Houston 1-3
UTSA 3-1


Houston entered the mid-week game coming off a three-game home series against the Cal Bears of the Pac 12. The Cougars dropped the first two games of the season before bouncing back to win the third. UTSA hosted third-year Division I entry Tarleton State for three last weekend, winning the first two and then losing the third in extra innings.

Coming up

Saint Mary’s, Calif., at UTSA, Friday, 6 p.m.
Saint Mary’s at UTSA (doubleheader), Saturday, first game at noon.
Saint Mary’s at UTSA, Sunday, 1 p.m.

By the numbers

Four games into the season, newcomer Antonio Valdez leads the team with a .438 batting average.

Starting at third base in all four games, the Baylor transfer was hitless on opening night, but has since punched out two, three and two hits, respectively, in his last three games. In the field, he’s made two errors in 15 chances but has fielded cleanly without a miscue in the last two games.

As far as his views on how the team has fared, Valdez said he isn’t satisfied.

“We’re 3-1, which is great, but I think we all know that there’s room for improvement,” Valdez said. “We’re all going to keep working harder and harder. You know, 3-1 is great. A win tonight is great … But, we’re shooting for something nice this year.”

Shortstop Matt King (.412) and Tye Odom (.400) have also been swinging the bat well. King leads the team with six RBIs.

Miller, one of four preseason all-Conference USA choices for UTSA, has fared well in two appearances. He’s yielded one earned run on five hits and three walks, while striking out eight.

Daniel Garza was the first reliever out of the UTSA bullpen. UTSA baseball beat Houston 12-2 in 7 innings on a run rule on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Daniel Garza was the first reliever out of the UTSA bullpen. He pitched 1 and 2/3 scoreless against Houston, allowing only one hit. He struck out one. – Photo by Joe Alexander