Roadrunners beat the Memphis Tigers to win another road series

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Mason Lytle homered twice for the first time this season and tied a season-high with four RBIs on Sunday as the UTSA Roadrunners moved into first in the American Athletic Conference by beating the Memphis Tigers, 7-5.

The Roadrunners won the finale of a three-game series in Memphis on the strength of hitting by Lytle and James Taussig and the pitching of Fischer Kingsbery, who worked four scoreless innings to close the game.

Lytle went two for four on the day. He homered to lead off the game in the top of the first and added a go-ahead two-run blast in the sixth. Taussig highlighted a three-hit day with a two-run double in the first inning and a solo home run in the seventh.

Kingsbery blanked the Tigers in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Allowing no runs on only two hits, he lowered his earned run average to 1.90. Kingsbery struck out five and walked two.

UTSA won two of three over Memphis for its fourth straight series victory in AAC play. Also, the victory pushed the Roadrunners (9-3) into sole possession of first place over the East Carolina Pirates (8-4) in the AAC standings. The Pirates lost 8-7 at home to the Charlotte 49ers.

For Memphis, Will Marcy went four for four, scored a run and produced an RBI. Duane Stuart hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth to lift the Tigers into a 5-4 lead. Lytle answered in the top of the sixth with a two-run shot of his own, pushing the Roadrunners ahead 6-5.

Third baseman Ty Tilson made one of the better defensive plays of the day for UTSA in the bottom of the eighth when he took away a hit with a diving grab of a hard-hit ground ball. Tilson came up throwing to get the force at second base. Kingsbery finished the inning by fanning Shane Cox looking.

Series recap

Friday: UTSA wins, 9-6
Saturday: Memphis wins, 12-5
Sunday: UTSA wins, 7-5
UTSA wins series, two games to one


UTSA 21-15, 9-3
Memphis 18-19, 6-6

Coming up

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


The Roadrunners improved to 11-4 in their last 15 games. They also remained undefeated at 4-0 on Sundays in AAC play. In UTSA’s inaugural season of play in the conference, it owns series victories over East Carolina (2-1), Tulane (3-0), Charlotte (2-1) and Memphis (2-1).

UTSA won the Tulane and Memphis series on the road …

Ulises Quiroga (4-0) pitched the first five innings to earn the victory. He gave up five runs, all earned, on six hits. Quiroga walked three and struck out four. He yielded home runs to Pierre Seals in the second inning and to Stuart in the fifth. Kingsbery earned his second save of the season. For Memphis, reliever Logan Rushing (0-2) was tagged with the loss …

Mason Lytle had a season high-tying four RBIs, matching the four he had in a series closing victory at Tulane on March 30 …


An earlier version of this story stated incorrectly that the Roadrunners were tied for first with the East Carolina Pirates in the AAC. Sorry about the error. Here is a look at the top of the standings:

UTSA 9-3, 21-15
East Carolina 8-4, 27-8
South Florida 7-5, 21-15
Wichita State 7-5, 21-16

UTSA wins 12-6 to sweep three games from Tulane on the road

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Red-hot Mason Lytle homered in his fourth straight three-hit performance Sunday afternoon as the UTSA Roadrunners recorded an American Athletic Conference series sweep on the road with a 12-6 victory over the Tulane Green Wave.

Playing their inaugural season as members of the American, the Roadrunners took three games in three days against the Green Wave and moved into a tie for first with the Wichita State Shockers.


UTSA 16-12, 5-1
Tulane 15-13, 2-4

Coming up

UTSA at Incarnate Word, Tuesday, 2 p.m.


For UTSA, the road sweep was the program’s first in conference play since March of 2015 at Marshall. In addition, the victory was UTSA’s fifth straight, a season high.

Lytle continued his hot hitting with a three-for-five day. The junior from Pearland High School, a transfer from Oregon, hit safely in his 14th straight game. In that span, Lytle has 32 hits in 67 at bats for a .477 average.

In a streak within a streak, he also has recorded multiple hits in 11 straight games, including four straight with three hits. For the season, Lytle’s batting average is listed at .405. He entered the day leading the American in that category.

In the series finale, Hector Rodriguez and Caleb Hill also produced big numbers at the plate. Rodriguez had three hits and three RBIs. Hill had two hits and two RBIs.

Lytle’s homer came in the fourth inning, a three-run shot that he pulled to left field. The blast lifted the Roadrunners into a 6-2 lead.

Starting pitcher Ulises Quiroga (2-0) set a career-high by working seven innings. The righthander from Baytown allowed two runs on four hits. Quiroga walked three and struck out five.

Mason Lytle continues lineage of Houston-area center field talent at UTSA

Mason Lytle. UTSA beat UT-Arlington 2-1 in the second game of a doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA centerfielder Mason Lytle has contributed with his bat, glove and speed in the first 21 games of the season. – File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

UTSA baseball fans seem to have found another favorite to cheer in center field. Mason Lytle is his name, and while he has played center for the Roadrunners only for a little more than a month, it is arguable that his skills match up with some of the best at the position in the history of the program.

In a breezy interview Thursday, he talked about a number of topics: Among them, an older brother being an inspirational figure when he was a kid learning the game. His background as a ball player from talent-rich Pearland in the Houston area. And a shoulder injury at the University of Oregon last spring that temporarily derailed his career.

Also, Lytle expressed his feelings about a historic weekend looming for the Roadrunners, who play their inaugural American Athletic Conference games at home over the next few days against the 10th-ranked East Carolina Pirates.

“Oh, yeah,” he said, “it’s super exciting. We’re getting prepared. We’re working hard. Watching video to get ready. Working hard in the (batting) cages to get our swings right. New conference. New opponents, and they’re ranked pretty high. So, it should be fun. It should be exciting.”

The East Carolina-UTSA series opener is set for 6 tonight at Roadrunner Field. The matchup will continue Saturday at 2 p.m., followed by a Sunday finale starting at 1 p.m.

When Lytle first stepped on the outfield grass for the Roadrunners earlier this season, fans could see his speed and ability to chase down balls in the gap. Also they watched as he put pressure on the defense running out routine grounders and stealing an occasional base.

And, by the way, he is now 9 for 9 in that category.

What has raised eyebrows lately, though, has been his ability to make contact at the plate and then utilize his speed to create havoc for opposing defenders.

Currently, Lytle (.359 average, .576 slugging percentage) is riding a seven-game hitting streak and has recorded multiple hits in his last four games.

“Mason has stepped up,” UTSA coach Pat Hallmark said. “Plays really good defense. From a talent standpoint, I knew he belonged on the field. I didn’t expect he’d hit this (well). To hit .350 (is not easy) and he’s done it.

“He’s hitting in the clutch a little bit, too, which is nice to see, and he runs the bases well.”

With Caleb Hill on an even greater tear and making contact with the ball at a high level at the top of the batting order, Hallmark has used Lytle anywhere from second to fifth recently.

The two also complement one another in the outfield, with Hill in left and Lytle in center.

“It’s hard to find that at the mid-major level, a guy that can defend, that can hit for a little power and can steal a base,” Hallmark said. “Those two guys can do all that. We’re very excited to have ’em.”

At UTSA, fans have had the good fortune to see some talented centerfielders. Many of them, like Lytle, have come from the Houston area.

Michael Rockett, for instance, and his younger brother, Daniel Rockett. From the late-2000s to the early 2010s, one or the other routinely would run down balls hit into the gap. Most recently, Shane Sirdashney from The Woodlands.

He, too, could hit for average and power and could do just about everything.

Last weekend, at home against Northwestern, Lytle continued the show for UTSA fans. He hit eight for 11 at the plate and rang up 17 total bases.

Lytle also hit an inside the park home run. The ball caromed off the batter’s eye in center field, and by the time it was retrieved, he had a full head of steam that allowed him to score.

Last time he hit an inside-the-park four-bagger?

“I actually had two at San Jac, in the same weekend,” he said, smiling, referring to his three-year run at San Jacinto College through 2022.

Lytle said he’s been working with coaches on getting back to basics with his swing.

“Not thinking too much, simplifying the swing. Getting the foot down. Seeing the ball. Back to the roots,” he said. “It’s been paying off. It’s been working.”

Defensively, the UTSA outfield is in good shape at the moment, with Hill in left, Lytle in center and Tye Odom, recently returning to form after an injury, playing in right.

“It’s nice to have three centerfielders out there in the outfield playing, at all three positions,” Lytle said. “We’re all quick. We’re all fast. We can all get to any ball. It’s nice to be able to trust the left fielder and the right fielder. It works good.

“I think our pitchers are happy we’re all out there.”

If not for a shoulder injury that cut short Lytle’s one and only season at Oregon around this time last year, he might not be at UTSA.

“I got surgery, the season was ending (for me),” he said. “The team was good. It was a fun team to be around. But it just didn’t work out in my favor. Ended up here. Couldn’t be … happier.”

Lytle’s hometown of Pearland is synonymous with the game of baseball. Former major leaguers Clay Hensley, Robbie Weinhardt, Craig Smajstrla, Jeff DeWillis and Kirk Dressendorfer all played in the area just south of Hobby Airport.

“It’s where my family grew up,” Lytle said. “It’s nice to have those roots there. A lot of baseball talent coming out of there. Especially right now, they’re pretty good. One of the top (high school) teams in the nation. It was good to be surrounded by some other good ball players. Helped me grow tremendously.”

When UTSA’s current centerfielder was growing up, his older brother, Hunter Lytle, was the man.

“My older brother played sports,” he said. “He was pretty athletic. He didn’t play as far as I did. But, he definitely had the talent. He was good, and he pushed me to my limits.”

Lytle acknowledged that his brother attended Texas State University, UTSA’s I-35 rival in athletics, with a particularly heated rivalry in baseball. Texas State on Tuesday night knocked off UTSA 14-13, a game in which Mason Lytle had three hits.

Reporters at Thursday’s media day didn’t even have to ask whether the older brother supported his younger brother’s team a few nights ago, or his own alma mater.

“He he was rooting for us,” Mason Lytle said.

As for how the Roadrunners keep coming up with high-caliber center field talent out of the Houston area, Hallmark said he hadn’t thought about it in those teams.

The Rockett brothers were recruited under a previous UTSA coaching staff into an area where their uncle, former Atlanta Braves shortstop Pat Rockett, grew up and attended high school. In Sirdashney’s case, Hallmark brought him to San Antonio, first to the University of the Incarnate Word and then to UTSA.

Lytle thought about the Houston connection and his own place in the lineage and said simply, “It’s a blessing to be out here and filling those shoes.”

Coming up

East Carolina at UTSA, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.


East Carolina 15-4
UTSA 10-11

Feeling the opening-night blues: UTSA rally falls short, 10-9, to UT-Arlington

Caleb Hill (15) hit two home runs. UTSA lost to UT-Arlington 10-9 in the Roadrunners' baseball season opener on Friday, Feb. 16, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Caleb Hill (15) hit two homers to highlight a two-for-five performance with three runs scored and four RBIs against the UT Arlington Mavericks. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The second game of the the season can’t come soon enough for the UTSA Roadrunners.

Why? Because, in the opener on Friday night, the Roadrunners made a few too many mistakes early, got burned by three home runs and fell behind by nine on two different occasions.

In the end, the Roadrunners scored eight unanswered runs in a spirited rally led by Caleb Hill and Mason Lytle, only to fall in a heartbreaker, 10-9, to the UT Arlington Mavericks.

Starting pitcher Robert Orloski. UTSA lost to UT-Arlington 10-9 in the Roadrunners' baseball season opener on Friday, Feb. 16, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA starting pitcher Robert Orloski, a freshman, worked 3 and 2/3 innings and yielded six hits and six runs – four of them earned. He also walked only one and struck out five. – Photo by Joe Alexander

With Hill homering twice and Lytle making a grand UTSA debut by hitting a high-arc blast into the screen over the left field fence, the team nevertheless tasted defeat on what had been billed as a day of celebration, when officials welcomed fans into a remodeled Roadrunner Field.

The game just started off on a sour note all the way around for the Roadrunners, who watched as the Mavs built leads of 9-0 and 10-1.

They didn’t quit, though. A crowd announced at 785 started to generate noise when the home team erupted with three runs in the fifth, one in the sixth, three more in the seventh and one in the ninth.

Hill sparked the uprising by crushing a line drive to right center for a three-run homer in the fifth. Not to be outdone, Lytle hit a solo shot in the sixth. He nearly homered again in the seventh but it was caught at the wall for a sac fly RBI. In addition, Hill scorched a sky-scraper that landed well beyond the right field wall to lead off the ninth.

“It was good but it wasn’t enough,” UTSA coach Pat Hallmark said. “We just didn’t play very good (early). We got to play better. We looked hesitant and passive way too often, which can happen, especially in the first game of the season, with the nerves.

“I’m sure it was nerves, but you got to get over it,” the coach said. “I was disappointed in the way we played and I was disappointed in the way I coached. I need to be better, too.”

The Mavericks were just too good for the Roadrunners in the early innings. With UTSA giving the ball to highly-touted freshman pitcher Robert Orloski to start the opener, Arlington made him pay by smashing two home runs.

Orloski yielded six runs, four of them earned, in 3 and 2/3 innings to take the loss. Against Orloski, Ryan Black delivered a one-out homer in the first inning to make it 1-0. In the second inning, Parker Airhart led off by belting one out of the yard to make it 2-0.

Isaiah Walker. UTSA lost to UT-Arlington 10-9 in the Roadrunners' baseball season opener on Friday, Feb. 16, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Isaiah Walker batted leadoff, stroked two hits and scored twice in the season opener against UT Arlington . – Photo by Joe Alexander

In the third, Orloski was still throwing well but the game started to get away from him. Black, swinging from the left side, laced an RBI double down the left field line. A relay throw to the plate from UTSA shortstop Zane Spinn was overthrown, allowing Black to take third base on the play.

He scored a few moments later on a wild pitch for a 4-0 lead.

Fans who watched the Roadrunners win 38 games in each of the last two seasons seemed a bit stunned at the outburst, but the Mavericks weren’t finished.

Lifting Orloski with two outs and two runners on base in the fourth, the Roadrunners called on junior Ryan Beaird, and Garrison Berkley greeted him with a three-run blast to break the game open. Like Orloski, Beaird was throwing well and firing hard. But he grooved one, and Berkley smashed it over the wall for a 7-0 lead.

Later in the frame, the Mavs tacked on two more runs to take a commanding 9-0 lead.

Hallmark said he wasn’t displeased at all with the first outing for Orloski, who at this time last year was pitching in high school in Middleton, Idaho.

“He was OK,” the coach said. “The kid on their team, the (No.) 2 hole hitter, Black, is good. We knew he was good. The whole report was that this kid’s their best hitter, and he looked like it. So, I wasn’t disappointed in him getting hits off Rob.”

Not shy about throwing a high fastball, Orloski at times was impressive by inducing the Mavs into futile swings and misses. And yet other times, a couple of his mistakes proved costly. In the end, he pitched 3 and 2/3 innings and yielded six hits and six runs — four of them earned — while he walked one and struck out five

“Rob can pitch better,” Hallmark said. “I bet his strike percentage was somewhere around 58 percent, which is a little low. But he didn’t pitch poorly at all. I wasn’t disappointed at all with Rob. He was fine. He’ll be back out there.”

Hallmark tipped his cap to an old friend, Clay Van Hook, the UT Arlington coach who is in his second season with the Mavs. Years ago, both worked together as assistant coaches at Rice University under the Wayne Graham. Hallmark is also friends with Arlington assistant Mike Taylor.

“Mike and I go way back,” Hallmark said. “We played against each other. Both of them, they’re good baseball people. They bounced back last year. They won a bunch more games last year than they did the year before. He’s doing a good job. Clay knows baseball.”

Coming up

Saturday — UT Arlington at UTSA. Doubleheader. First game starts at noon.
Sunday — UT Arlington at UTSA, 1 p.m.

Mason Lytle. UTSA lost to UT-Arlington 10-9 in the Roadrunners' baseball season opener on Friday, Feb. 16, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Mason Lytle made his UTSA debut a memorable one by smashing a high-arc home run into the screen over the left field wall. – Photo by Joe Alexander