Charlotte wins 11-2 to oust UTSA from the C-USA tournament

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

One of the best seasons in UTSA baseball history likely is over.

With the Roadrunners’ ratings percentage index at No. 67 entering Day 2 of the Conference USA Championship, they probably needed a victory over the Charlotte 49ers and then a strong run to the C-USA postseason title to have any hopes of an NCAA tournament berth.

As it turned out, Cam Fisher and the 49ers had other ideas.

Fisher hit two home runs, and the 49ers made plenty of slick plays defensively in rolling to an 11-2 victory Thursday over the Roadrunners at Reckling Park.

With the decision, Charlotte kept its tournament hopes alive, advancing in the C-USA losers bracket to play again on Friday. The 49ers will meet either the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs or the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders. Meanwhile, the loss sends UTSA home from Houston with an 0-2 record.

NCAA tournament berths will be announced next week. But, UTSA coach Pat Hallmark said before the tournament that his team needed to win it to have a shot. So, it’s hard to imagine how the Roadrunners could be in the national field, considering a 10-11 record in their last 21 games.

It’s a heart-breaker for a team that had so much going for it in February, March and April.

Only a month ago, the Roadrunners were 20 games over .500, ranked in the top 25 in various media polls and cruising to what looked like the program’s first 40-win season.

At one point, the Roadrunners were 28-8. Now, they’re 38-19, and they’re boarding the bus to come home, wondering what happened.

The way the game played out against Charlotte may have underscored some of the team’s problems down the stretch. The 49ers jumped on the Roadrunners early, forging a 3-0 lead.

Fisher homered in the first inning, belting a solo homer to right.

With Roadrunners’ starter Drake Smith (1-2) struggling with his command, the 49ers loaded the bases in the second. Smith was lifted for Simon Miller, the C-USA’s Pitcher of the Year, but Charlotte’s Jake Dragum answered with a line drive and a two-run single.

Nursing a 3-0 lead, the 49ers started to feel the Roadrunners’ offense. Garrett Poston blasted a solo home run and then Antonio Valdez legged out a double. Utilizing his speed, Valdez raced home on a Taylor Smith single. The 49ers’ lead had been trimmed to 3-2.

Credit the Charlotte defense for turning the momentum. In the bottom of the fourth, with UTSA trailing by one and threatening, Dragum gloved a hard-hit ground ball up the middle, stepped on the bag at second and fired to first for the double play.

It was the first of two double plays by the 49ers’ infield.

Meanwhile, Charlotte reliever Paxton Thompson (6-2) started to get tough. He went on to complete five shutout innings, allowing only two hits.

On the other hand, the 49ers offense also had something to do with the Roadrunners’ problems, as well. They scored five runs on nine hits off Miller, who yielded two home runs and two doubles.

In all, the 49ers battered the Roadrunners for 14 hits, including three by Brandon Stahlman. Blake Jackson, Fisher and Austin Knight picked up two hits apiece.


UTSA 38-19
Charlotte 30-26


The frustrating stat of the tournament for UTSA had to do with hitting. Their batters smashed quite a few balls directly at fielders over the past few days. That being said, the Roadrunners mustered only 13 hits combined in a 5-1 loss to Middle Tennessee on Wednesday and in an 11-2 loss to Charlotte on Thursday.

If the loss to Charlotte was indeed the end of the season for the Roadrunners, they will have finished the past two seasons with 38 victories and without a berth in the NCAA tournament.

They went 38-20 last year, with a 19-11 record in the conference’s regular season. Roadrunners are now 38-19 following a 21-8 run through the C-USA. UTSA won 39 games twice, once in 1994 and again in 2008. Next season, UTSA baseball will transition along with all its other sports into the American Athletic Conference.

Opening-day upset: Middle Tennessee downs UTSA in C-USA tournament

By Jerry Briggs
Special to The JB Replay

Junior Eriq Swan pitched the seventh-seeded Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders past the No. 2 UTSA Roadrunners, earning the win in a 5-1 victory on opening day Wednesday at the Conference USA Baseball Championship.

Swan, a 6-foot-6 righthander, took the loss in a 5-4 decision to UTSA last month at Roadrunner Field in San Antonio. He was more than up to the task in the rematch in Houston, however, allowing only one run on three hits through six innings.

With the loss, UTSA was forced into the losers bracket.

The Roadrunners will take on the Charlotte 49ers at 9 a.m. Thursday in an elimination game. Middle Tennessee State advanced in the winners bracket, earning a date against sixth-seeded Louisiana Tech in a game scheduled to start Thursday at 12:30 p.m.

The C-USA tournament is being contested at Rice University’s Reckling Park. The tournament will run through Sunday, with the winner earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

In Wednesday’s opener, No. 6 seed Louisiana Tech downed third-seeded Charlotte 13-8. Middle Tennessee then followed with the second shocker of the day in downing UTSA.

Later, top-seeded Dallas Baptist rolled to a 13-2 victory over eight-seed Rice, and fourth-seeded Western Kentucky rallied from a six-run deficit to down No. 5 Florida Atlantic 10-9 in the night game.

In the second game of the day, the Blue Raiders were the visiting team, batting first. They got the jump on the Roadrunners almost immediately when JT Mabry hit the second pitch from starter Ryan Ward over the left field wall for a 1-0 lead.

Ward lasted a little more than two innings. In the top of the third, he walked the first three batters he faced, prompting coaches to bring in Luke Malone.

The Blue Raiders scratched out two runs, one on a ground ball and another on a sacrifice fly, to dump the Roadrunners into a 3-0 deficit.

Meanwhile, Swan kept the Roadrunners off balance with fastball clocked in the high 90s, mixed with a breaking pitch and a changeup.

Going into the sixth inning, he had a one-hit shutout when he struck out the first two batters he faced. At that point, UTSA’s Matt King slammed a home run over the left field wall. The blow brought the Roadrunners to within 3-1.

In the eighth, the Blue Raiders made it 5-1 when DJ Wright hit a two-run homer off Roadrunners’ senior Luke Malone.

The story of the game was Swan. A few years ago, the former high school standout in Murfreesboro, Tenn., decided to stay home and play for Middle Tennessee State.

He entered the tournament with a reputation for having control problems and with a 7.04 earned run average. In his best outing of the season, Swan not only held explosive UTSA to one run, but he also struck out nine. He improved to 2-6 with a 6.49 ERA.

For UTSA, Ward took the loss. After being charged with three runs allowed in two plus innings, he fell to 1-2. Malone finished the game, pitching seven innings in relief. He gave up two runs on six hits and struck out two.

King and Caleb Hill produced two hits apiece for the Roadrunners, who could manage only six hits for the game.

Leyton Barry hit the ball hard to the outfield twice but was held to zero for four on the day. Taylor Smith was also zero for four and struck out four times. Antonio Valdez, UTSA’s leading hitter, was one for three.


UTSA 38-18
Middle Tennessee 26-27

Wednesday’s results

Louisiana Tech 13, Charlotte 8
Middle Tennessee State 5, UTSA 1
Dallas Baptist 13, Rice 2
Western Kentucky 10, Florida Atlantic 9

Thursday’s schedule

Charlotte vs. UTSA, 9 a.m. (elimination game)
Louisiana Tech vs. Middle Tennessee, 12:30 p.m. (winners bracket)
Rice vs. Florida Atlantic, 4 p.m. (elimination game)
Dallas Baptist vs. Western Kentucky, 7:30 p.m. (winners bracket)


UTSA outfield standout Shane Sirdashney, trying to make a comeback from a hamstring injury, started in center for the Roadrunners. In only his fourth game since the Middle Tennessee series in April, Sirdashney had one hit in four at bats.

When the Roadrunners swept a three-game series at home from the Blue Raiders in April, they improved their record to 28-8. Since then, they have been plagued with inconsistency, going 10-10 in their last 20 games.

Despite the swoon, they can tie the school record for victories in a season if they can beat Charlotte on Thursday morning. If they win, they would play Friday at 2 p.m. against the loser between Louisiana Tech and Middle Tennessee.

Shane Sirdashney’s pinch-hit homer fuels optimism as UTSA prepares for the postseason

Shane Sirdashney. UTSA beat Marshall 5-4 on Sunday, May 8, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

Shane Sirdashney could be limited in the Conference USA tournament because of a hamstring injury, but he said Monday that he is preparing play. – File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Shane Sirdashney’s last regular-season at bat for the UTSA Roadrunners a few days ago turned into a memorable one on several levels.

He’ll always remember the solid contact. The ball flying off the bat. The thoughts racing through his head. The sound of his teammates’ voices ringing in his ears.

“Originally I thought it was going to be too much of a line drive, off the wall, and I was going to have to run,” said Sirdashney, who has been battling a left leg injury for the last month. “Then I heard some screaming and cheering when I rounded first base. I was like, ‘OK, I can slow down now.’ ”

In a decidedly good omen for the Roadrunners, Sirdashney blasted a pinch-hit, solo home run in the ninth inning last Saturday at Louisiana Tech.

Even though UTSA lost the game 7-5, the bullet off the bat of their hard-luck outfielder sent a jolt of excitement through a dugout full of players looking for positive signs entering this week’s Conference USA Baseball Championship.

It also launched a few jokes for the trip home.

“The joke is, just hit homers, and you don’t have to stress the leg,” UTSA coach Pat Hallmark said Monday.

Added UTSA pitcher Luke Malone: “He busted out of the box like he thought it was a double. I mean, he put his head down and started sprinting, which you love to see because of his hamstring. Then the ball went over the fence and he was smiling. It was good to see him back and swinging it.”

Sirdashney, a .361 hitter, has been suffering from a partially torn tendon in his hamstring, in the tendon on the inside of his left knee.

He injured it on April 16 in a home game against Middle Tennessee State. After playing spot duty in two games a few weeks later, Sirdashney was shut down for the next three weeks.

That’s why the UTSA players felt a surge of excitement when they heard his named called to pinch hit late in the game against the Bulldogs.

“We were going crazy when he first stepped in the box,” Malone said. “I mean, there was some energy in our dugout, and then off the bat, we were just screaming. It was good to see.”

Second-seeded UTSA (38-17) opens the tournament Wednesday in Houston against No. 7 Middle Tennessee State (25-27). The tournament is double-elimination through Saturday, with a championship game scheduled Sunday.

The extent of Sirdashney’s role in the five-day event is unknown and could hinge partially on how he practiced Monday, how he feels after practice tonight and on Tuesday. Considering the nature of the injury, he’ll likely be day to day as the tournament progresses.

Sirdashney, from The Woodlands, said he’s preparing to play. It’s important to him because the winner of the event gets an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

“I mean, this is my last time ever playing baseball, so I’m going to give it all I’ve got,” Sirdashney said. “The plan is, I’m ready to go on Wednesday. Whatever coach Hallmark needs me to do, if that means starting in centerfield (or whatever).

“I’m going to practice today, see how it feels tomorrow, and I should be good to go on Wednesday.”