Rice catches a 10th-inning break and beats UTSA, 9-8

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

After letting a three-run lead slip away in the ninth inning Friday night, Rice Owls pushed across the winning run with one out in the bottom of the 10th, beating the UTSA Roadrunners, 9-8, in the American Athletic Conference.

A crazy sequence of two plays gave the victory to the Owls and knocked the Roadrunners out of first place in the AAC.

First, Tobias Motley lofted a pop fly to shallow right field. With the UTSA right fielder charging in, the ball dropped behind him, allowing Motley to motor all the way to third base.

Jacob Devenny followed with a squeeze bunt, ruled as an RBI single, for the winner. UTSA pitcher Ruger Riojas couldn’t catch it cleanly, everyone was safe, and Rice came away with the victory in the first game of a three-game series at Reckling Park.

It was a heartbreaker for the Roadrunners, and it was also costly. Earlier in the evening, the East Carolina Pirates won on the road, beating the Memphis Tigers 14-0 on the run rule in seven innings.

The Pirates now lead the AAC race with a record of 12-4, followed by the Roadrunners, who fell one game back at 11-5.

Motley and Ben Dukes slammed two-out, two-run homers off UTSA freshman Rob Orloski in the second inning, staking the Owls to a 4-1 lead.

The Roadrunners battled back with three runs on only one hit off Parker Smith in the top of the fourth to tie it. Undeterred, the Owls answered with two more scores in the bottom half to make it 6-4.

Manny Garza hiked the Owls’ advantage to 7-4 when he belted a solo home run in the fifth.

In the eighth inning, the Roadrunners started a rally, getting a couple of runners on for Caleb Hill, who rapped an RBI single through the right side.

At that point, Rice reliever Davion Hixon got tough. With runners at second and third, UTSA needed only a base hit to tie it, but Hixon struck out Alexander Olivo on a high fastball and got Matt King on a fly ball to center to end the threat.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Owls tacked on a run for insurance. Treyton Rank’s RBI single off Ruger Riojas padded the lead to 8-5.

UTSA rallied in the ninth to load the bases against Hixon with a leadoff double by Ty Tilson, a single by Isaiah Walker and then a walk to Diego Diaz. At that point, Mark Henning hit a one-hopper to Hixon, who threw home for the force and the first out.

Subsequently, Broc Parmer came to the plate as a pinch hitter and delivered with a two-run double to right, pulling UTSA to within one. With runners at first and third, Mason Lytle smashed a double off the wall in right, bringing in the tying run to make it 8-8.


UTSA 24-17, 11-5
Rice 16-25, 7-9

Coming up

Game Two of a three-game series in the AAC. UTSA at Rice, Saturday at 2 p.m. Game 3 is Sunday at 1 p.m.