Baseball: UTSA wins inaugural AAC series against 10th-ranked East Carolina

By Jerry Briggs
For The JB Replay

Mason Lytle ignited the offense early. Daniel Garza and Ruger Riojas pitched with a purpose at the end. As it turned out, the UTSA Roadrunners claimed a 6-5 victory Sunday over the 10th-ranked East Carolina Pirates

In their first weekend of play as a member of the American Athletic Conference, the Roadrunners won two of three off the defending champions. It is the first time in the history of the program that UTSA has won a series against a Top-10 opponent.
In Game 1 on Friday night, freshman Rob Orloski combined with Riojas to pitch the Roadrunners to a 4-2 victory over East Carolina and All American Trey Yesavage. On Saturday, the Pirates bounced back, winning 14-10 behind a 16-hit attack.

UTSA claimed the rubber match on a cool and cloudy Sunday afternoon at Roadrunner Field despite four home runs by the hard-hitting visitors from Greenville, N.C.

East Carolina kept pounding away all day with homers by Justin Wilcoxen, Dixon Williams, Joey Berini and Ryan McCrystal.

The Roadrunners took charge early, leading 2-0 after one inning and 4-1 after two as centerfielder Mason Lytle and catcher Broc Parmer led the way.

In the top of the first, Parmer back-handed a ball on a pitch that hit the turf. He came up and threw out Clark Cunningham trying to take second base to end the inning. Later, Lytle ignited the offense with a one-out single and a stolen base.

To cap the bottom of the first, Parmer doubled to left and drove in a run to make it 2-0. Thanks to the pitching and the defense, the Roadrunners would hold on to the lead for the remainder of the afternoon.

A pitching threesome of Ulises Quiroga, Garza and Riojas got the job done. Quiroga started and worked four innings. Though he gave up three runs, he also kept the Roadrunners in the game with a sharp breaking pitch. He struck out four.

Garza entered in the fifth inning and worked into the eighth. Pounding the strike zone and walking none, he seemed to be in full control to all but two batters. Perini touched him for a two-out solo homer in the sixth. Later, McCrystal launched a solo shot of his own to lead off the eighth.

After the McCrystal blast cleared the wall in left and pulled East Carolina to within 6-5, UTSA coach Pat Hallmark called on Riojas, his ace, who threw 41 pitches in a three-inning save Friday night. Riojas promptly registered two strikeouts and induced a ground ball to end it.

In the ninth, the Pirates threatened again when Cunningham delivered a two-out double into the left-center gap. Riojas finished the game by getting Jacob Jenkins-Cowart to bounce a ball to shortstop Matt King, who fired to first for the third out.

Riojas, in all, worked two scoreless innings, allowing only a hit, while striking out two. In the process, he lowered his earned run average to 1.44.

Lytle, a transfer from the University of Oregon, continued his strong play. He finished the game two for four to extend his hitting streak to 10 games and raise his batting average to .371. He stole three bases and scored twice.

Defensively, Lytle made a diving catch in center in the second inning for his second gem of the weekend.

Parmer, one of three newcomers to play catcher for the Roadrunners this season, is making a bid for the lead role. He made multiple stops on pitches that were difficult to handle, including one when the Pirates had a runner at third base. At bat, he finished three for four with two doubles, lifting his average to .358.

Alex Olivo and Zane Spinn also had two hits in the Roadrunners’ 10-hit attack. Olivo delivered an RBI single in the first. Spinn had an RBI double in the second and later scored on a Caleb Hill sacrifice fly to make it 4-1.


East Carolina 16-6, 1-2
UTSA 12-12, 2-1

Coming up

UTSA at Baylor, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.
AAC – UTSA at Tulane, Thursday, 6:30 p.m.
AAC – UTSA at Tulane, Friday, 6:30 p.m.
AAC – UTSA at Tulane, Saturday, 1 p.m.

UTSA rolls into CUSA tournament title game; Hallmark said Roadrunners are NCAA worthy

UTSA's Daniel Garza pitching against Marshall on May 6, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Daniel Garza, shown in a May 6 home game, pitched eight innings in relief Saturday as the Roadrunners clinched a spot in the CUSA tournament championship game – file photo.

(Updated with late Louisiana Tech-Old Dominion game)

UTSA is headed for the Conference USA tournament championship game – and probably the NCAA tournament as well.

The Roadrunners stayed unbeaten in the conference tournament with an 11-2 beatdown of top-seeded Southern Miss on Saturday afternoon.

UTSA will play Louisiana Tech in the tournament title game Sunday at 1 p.m. in Hattiesburg, Miss. Louisiana Tech beat Old Dominion 8-7 in Saturday’s late game to advance.

The Roadrunners have 11 victories this season over nationally ranked teams – including two this week against 14th ranked Southern Miss.

UTSA was projected to need two victories in the conference tournament to have a good shot at an NCAA tournament at-large bid. The Roadrunners not only have three wins this week, they are one win away from winning the CUSA tournament and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Roadrunners coach Pat Hallmark was asked in a postgame interview on ESPN+ if UTSA had done enough to earn an NCAA tournament berth. He answered unequivocally.

“Yes, sure. No doubt,” Hallmark said. “Look who we’re beating. That’s an unbelievable team. We come into their place and beat them twice. Look at everybody else we beat. We beat Stanford, TCU. We beat everybody they put in front of us. So yes, no doubt.”

UTSA took an early lead on Garrett Poston’s two-run homer in the second inning. They added two runs in the third and took control with a six-run outburst in the top of the eighth.

For the second time in the tournament, the Roadrunners got a big relief performance from a pitcher who has experience as a starter. Daniel Garza entered the game in the second inning and held Southern Miss scoreless until the seventh.

Garza, a starter or longer-innings pitcher most of the season, went in with a runner on base and no outs in the second. He got Southern Miss to hit into double plays in the second and third innings. He finished the game, allowing two runs in eight innings and throwing 113 pitches.

UTSA outfielder Garrett Poston batting against Stephen F. Austin on Wednesday, April 6, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

Garrett Poston, shown earlier in the season, hit a two-run homer Saturday to give UTSA a 2-0 lead. – file photo

UTSA got the early 2-0 advantage when Poston hit a home run with Josh Killeen on base in the second inning. It was the second blast of the season for the sophomore from League City.

UTSA added on two runs in the top of the third. Jonathan Tapia led off with a walk and Leyton Barry singled to second. An error left runners on second and third with no outs. Shane Sirdashney’s sacrifice fly brought in Tapia to make it 3-0. Killeen’s one out bunt scored Leyton from third to make it 4-0.

Southern Miss scored twice in the bottom of the seventh to cut the lead to 4-2. UTSA answered forcefully. Ian Bailey walked and Poston, King, Tapia, Barry, Sirdashney and Flores strung together hits in the top of the eighth as the Roadrunners scored six runs to pull away.

UTSA, the top hitting team in CUSA for the season, finished the game with 15 hits.

“It’s high,” Hallmark said of the Roadrunners’ confidence at the plate. “But we’re a pretty good hitting team. We led the league in average and some other stuff. Top three in pretty much everything. They’ve been confident all year. They’re good baseball players.”


UTSA 38-19

Southern Miss 43-16


– UTSA had pitchers turn in eight or more innings in relief in two of its three games in the tournament. Luke Malone went nine innings and 107 pitches on Thursday and Garza went eight innings and 113 pitches on Saturday.

“Both of them have guts and they’re pretty good pitchers too,” Hallmark said. “We love their guts.”

– UTSA got production from the bottom of the order. Poston batted eighth and had two hits including his home run. King batted ninth and had two hits and two RBI.

– Flores stayed hot at the plate, going 3-for-4 with an RBI. He batted .684 (13-for-19) in five games against Southern Miss this season:
May 13 – 3-4, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB
May 14 – 2-3, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, HR
May 15 – 3-4, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB, HR
May 27 – 2-4, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, HR
May 28 – 3-4, 1 RBI, 0 R, 1 BB
Total – 13-19, 8 RBI, 5 R, 5 BB, 3 HR


Game 1: Old Dominion 18, Middle Tennessee 7 (7 innings)

Game 2: Louisiana Tech 4, Charlotte 0

Game 3: Southern Miss 4, UAB 3

Game 4: UTSA vs. Florida Atlantic, postponed until Thursday, 9 a.m.


Game 4: UTSA 6, Florida Atlantic 4

Game 5: Charlotte 22, Middle Tennessee 0

Game 6: Louisiana Tech 7, Old Dominion 2

Game 7: Florida Atlantic 11, UAB 1 (7 innings)

Game 8: Southern Miss vs. UTSA, postponed until Friday, 10 a.m.


Game 8: UTSA 7, Southern Miss 6

Game 9: Old Dominion 13, Charlotte 4

Game 10: Southern Miss 5, Florida Atlantic 0


Game 11: Old Dominion 9, Louisiana Tech 6, 13 innings

Game 12: UTSA 11, Southern Miss 2 (Southern Miss eliminated)

Game 13: Louisiana Tech 8, Old Dominion 7 (Old Dominion eliminated)


Game 15: Championship – UTSA vs. Louisiana Tech, 1 p.m.

UTSA and Southern Miss meet again in CUSA tournament

UTSA's Daniel Garza, shown pitching earlier this season at Roadrunner Field, went five innings and got the win against Southern Miss on May 13. - file photo

UTSA’s Daniel Garza, shown pitching earlier this season at Roadrunner Field, went five innings and got the win against Southern Miss on May 13. – file photo

When UTSA and Southern Miss square off Friday in the Conference USA baseball tournament, it will be their fourth meeting of the season.

First pitch is scheduled for 10 a.m. and will be televised on ESPN+. Friday’s winner advances to the tournament quarterfinals.

The Golden Eagles took two out of three games in the regular season, May 13-15, in Hattiesburg, Miss.

UTSA scored six times in the sixth inning to beat Southern Miss 8-7 in the series opener on May 13. Daniel Garza started on the mound for the Roadrunners and went five innings to get the win. Luke Malone pitched the final inning to get the save.

The Roadrunners scored only eight runs in the next two games combined. The Golden Eagles won the second game of the series 8-3 and wrapped up the weekend with a 9-5 victory.

Southern Miss’ success in the regular-season series helped carry the Golden Eagles to the No. 1 seed in the tournament. The Roadrunners are seeded No. 5.

UTSA has not announced a probable starting pitcher for Friday. Malone threw nine innings on Thursday, so don’t expect to see him Friday.

Roadrunners pitchers who have seen a lot of action this season include:

– Garza, who has made five starts. The sophomore right-hander from Houston has a 3-1 record and 4.41 ERA in 12 games.

– Jacob Jimenez, who has made eight starts. The senior right-hander from Houston has a 2-1 record and 5.01 ERA in 14 games.

– Ryan Ward, who has made six starts. The sophomore right-hander from Schertz has a 1-0 record and 5.09 ERA in 13 games.

– Ulises Quiroga, who has made five starts. The sophomore right-hander from Baytown has a 2-4 record and 7.13 record in 14 games.

– Ryan Beaird, who has made five starts. The freshman right-hander from San Antonio has a 2-3 record and 7.32 ERA in 21 games.

Top prospects to see innings out of the bullpen include Simon Miller (3-3, 3.78 ERA) and John Chomko (2-0, 3.92). Braylon Owens, who faced two batters on Thursday, could also be available to pitch again in the tournament.


Game 1: Old Dominion 18, Middle Tennessee 7 (7 innings)

Game 2: Louisiana Tech 4, Charlotte 0

Game 3: Southern Miss 4, UAB 3

Game 4: UTSA vs. Florida Atlantic, postponed until Thursday, 9 a.m.


Game 4: UTSA 6, Florida Atlantic 4

Game 5: Charlotte 22, Middle Tennessee 0

Game 6: Louisiana Tech 7, Old Dominion 2

Game 7: Florida Atlantic 11, UAB 1 (7 innings)

Game 8: Southern Miss vs. UTSA, postponed until Friday, 10 a.m.


Game 8: UTSA vs. Southern Miss, 10 a.m.

Game 9: Charlotte vs. Old Dominion, 1:30 p.m.

Game 10: UTSA-Southern Miss loser vs. Florida Atlantic, 5 p.m.


Game 11: Lousiana Tech vs. TBD, 9 a.m.

Game 12: UTSA-Southern Miss winner vs. Game 10 winner, 12:30 p.m.

Game 13: TBD, if necessary, 4 p.m.

Game 14: TBD, if necessary, 7:30


Game 15: Championship, 1 p.m.

Roadrunners move into second place in the C-USA standings

The UTSA Roadrunners cranked out four home runs to back the pitching of sophomore Daniel Garza Friday night, rolling to an early five-run lead en route to a 13-2 Conference USA victory over the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders.

In a C-USA series opener at Reese Smith Jr. Field, in Murfreesboro, Tenn., UTSA’s Leyton Barry enjoyed a monster day with two home runs and five RBIs. Ryan Flores and Chase Keng also homered for the Roadrunners, who won their fifth straight game.

Garza (2-0) was masterful, throwing a career-high 85 pitches, while working into the sixth inning. In all, he pitched 5 and 2/3 innings and gave up one run on five hits. Garza walked one and struck out seven.

With the victory, the Roadrunners won for the 16th time in their last 19 games and moved into sole possession of second place in the conference standings, three games behind the fourth-ranked Southern Miss Golden Eagles.

The Blue Raiders entered the game on a hot streak, having won two of three last week at Louisiana Tech to claim their fifth straight series victory in the conference. But while Garza was shutting down the home team early, Leyton Barry hit a solo home run in the third inning.

Flores hit a solo of his own in the fourth, and Barry followed later with a three-run shot, boosting UTSA into a 5-0 lead against Middle Tennessee starter Zach Keenan.


UTSA 29-13, 13-6
Middle Tennessee 21-18, 11-8

C-USA leaders

Southern Miss 16-3
UTSA 13-6
Louisiana Tech 12-7
Florida Atlantic 12-7
Old Dominion 11-8
Middle Tennessee 11-8

Coming up

Saturday — UTSA at Middle Tennessee State, 3 p.m.
Sunday — UTSA at Middle Tennessee State, 11 a.m.