UTSA run ends in CUSA title game; NCAA tournament probably up next

UTSA's Ryan Flores, shown in a May 29 home game, homered in the ninth inning of Sunday's game. - file photo

UTSA’s Ryan Flores, shown in a May 29 home game, homered in the ninth inning of Sunday’s game. – file photo

(Editor’s note: Updated with all-tournament team members)

Louisiana Tech edged UTSA 9-8 in a back-and-forth game in the Conference USA baseball tournament title game Sunday in Hattiesburg, Miss.

The Bulldogs ended the Roadrunners’ quest for the tournament title and the NCAA tournament automatic bid that goes with it.

UTSA (38-20) has never received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, but that is expected to change this week. The Roadrunners’ credentials for an at-large bid this season include 11 victories over nationally ranked teams and a strong showing in the CUSA tournament. The NCAA tournament teams will be announced Monday at 11 a.m.

UTSA won its first three games of the CUSA tournament to reach the title game. Lousiana Tech was playing its third game in three days, including a loss to Old Dominion on Saturday.

The Roadrunners came from behind multiple times in the game. UTSA’s Ryan Flores led off the top of the ninth with a home run to tie it 8-8. Louisiana Tech’s Steele Netter singled down the right-field line with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to drive home the winning run.

After Louisiana Tech retook the lead 6-5 in the bottom of the sixth, UTSA went in front 7-6 in the top of the seventh on a two-run homer by Ian Bailey, his team-high 16th blast of the season. Louisiana Tech immediately answered and took the lead 8-7 with two runs in the bottom of the seventh.

That set the stage for the dramatic ninth inning.

Louisiana Tech took an early lead with two runs in the bottom of the first.

UTSA went in front with a four-run fourth inning that saw the Roadrunners go from three runs down to a 4-3 lead in the stretch of three batters. UTSA got the rally going with a leadoff walk by Josh Killeen, a double by Chase Keng and then Bailey was hit-by-pitch. Garrett Poston broke the scoring ice with a two-run, bases-loaded double. Groundball outs by Matt King and Jonathan Tapia brought in a run each to tie the game and then put UTSA in front.

Records:

UTSA 38-20
Louisiana Tech 42-19

Notable:

– Louisiana Tech had nine hits in the title game, to seven for UTSA. No UTSA batter had more than one hit.

– UTSA used seven pitchers. Ulises Quiroga had the longest stretch on the mound. He went 2 2/3 scoreless innings and allowed one hit with two strikeouts and one walk.

– Braylon Owens pitched the eighth and nine innings and took the loss.

– UTSA’s Flores, Keng, Poston and Luke Malone were named to the 2022 CUSA all-tournament team.

WEDNESDAY’S GAMES

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.

THURSDAY’S GAMES

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.

FRIDAY’S GAMES

Game 8: UTSA 7, Southern Miss 6

Game 9: Old Dominion 13, Charlotte 4

Game 10: Southern Miss 5, Florida Atlantic 0

SATURDAY’S GAMES

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)

SUNDAY’S GAME

Game 15: Championship – Louisiana Tech 9, UTSA 8

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.”

Records:

UTSA 38-19

Southern Miss 43-16

Notable:

– 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

WEDNESDAY’S GAMES

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.

THURSDAY’S GAMES

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.

FRIDAY’S GAMES

Game 8: UTSA 7, Southern Miss 6

Game 9: Old Dominion 13, Charlotte 4

Game 10: Southern Miss 5, Florida Atlantic 0

SATURDAY’S GAMES

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)

SUNDAY’S GAME

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

UTSA knocking on door of NCAA tournament after win over Southern Miss

UTSA's Ryan Flores homered in the ninth inning for the winning run against Southern Miss in the Conference USA tournament on Friday, May 27, 2022. - file photo

UTSA’s Ryan Flores homered in the ninth inning for the winning run against Southern Miss in the Conference USA tournament on Friday, May 27, 2022. – file photo

(Updated with result of Game 9 and 10)

Expectations around UTSA were that the Roadrunners needed two wins in the Conference USA baseball tournament to be in strong position to earn an NCAA tournament at-large bid.

The ultimate outcome from UTSA’s standpoint would be to win the CUSA tournament and the automatic bid that comes with it.

UTSA claimed its second CUSA tournament win Friday morning in Hattiesburg, Miss. The Roadrunners beat top-seeded Southern Miss 7-6 in the winners bracket.

The Roadrunners (37-19) advanced to Saturday’s 12:30 p.m. CUSA tournament quarterfinals with a chance to advance to Sunday’s championship. They will face Southern Miss one more time.

A back-and-forth game came down to a solo home run by UTSA’s Ryan Flores in the top of the ninth. That broke a 6-6 tie. It was his third home run against Southern Miss this season – all on the Golden Eagles’ home field.

“Clearly he likes to hit here,” UTSA coach Pat Hallmark said in a postgame interview on ESPN+. “We played here two weeks ago. He hit the ball well here and they’ve got the best pitching staff in the league and one of the best staffs in the country. Flo just likes hitting here I guess so I hope he stays hot.”

Simon Miller (4-3) pitched the final 2 2/3 innings for UTSA to earn the win. He allowed one run on two hits.

The Roadrunners scored one or two runs in each of the last four innings in a game that stayed close the whole way.

Matt King and Jonathan Tapia hit back-to-back doubles in the top of the eighth – King scoring on Tapia’s hit to put UTSA in front 6-5. Southern Miss scored in the bottom of the inning to even it at 6-6.

“I’m a little flustered,” Hallmark said. “We didn’t play great. We made some mistakes. I think we played really hard.

“They’re (Southern Miss) tough. They’re playing at home. They got the crowd. Then we turned it back around.”

UTSA scored twice in the seventh. The Roadrunners took advantage of a two-run error. That set up a run by Leyton Barry from third on a ground ball and a run by Shane Sirdashney on a Josh Killeen hit.

The Roadrunners got a run in the sixth when Garrett Poston doubled in Chase Keng.

UTSA got on the board first with two runs in the top of the third. King scored from third on a fielder’s choice and Killeen singled in Barry.

RYAN FLORES VS. SOUTHERN MISS

UTSA has played Southern Miss four times in 2022 – all on the Golden Eagles’ home field in Hattiesburg. Flores had hits in all four games including home runs in three of four:

1st game – 3-4, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB
2nd game – 2-3, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, HR
3rd game – 3-4, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB, HR
4th game – 2-4, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, HR
Totals – 10-15, 8 RBI, 5 R, 4 BB, 3 HR

NOTABLE:

UTSA awaits the winner of Friday’s 5 p.m. elimination game. As of now, that could set up yet another meeting with Southern Miss, which faces Florida Atlantic.

UTSA had 12 hits including two each from Tapia, Barry, Flores, Killeen and King. The Roadrunners recorded three doubles.

WEDNESDAY’S GAMES

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.

THURSDAY’S GAMES

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.

FRIDAY’S GAMES

Game 8: UTSA 7, Southern Miss 6

Game 9: Old Dominion 13, Charlotte 4

Game 10: Southern Miss 5, Florida Atlantic 0

SATURDAY’S SCHEDULE

Game 11: Lousiana Tech vs. Old Dominion, 9 a.m.

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

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

Game 14: TBD, if necessary, 7:30

SUNDAY’S SCHEDULE

Game 15: Championship, 1 p.m.

UTSA rides Malone, rallies to win opener in CUSA tournament

Luke Malone pitched nine innings in relief as UTSA beat FAU 6-4. He raised his season record to 7-3. - file photo

Luke Malone pitched nine innings in relief as UTSA beat FAU 6-4. He raised his season record to 7-3. – file photo

(Updated with results of Games 5, 6 and 7 and remaining schedule)

UTSA rallied twice to beat Florida Atlantic 6-4 on Thursday in the Conference USA baseball tournament.

The victory keeps UTSA in the winner’s bracket of the double-elimination tournament. It also potentially strengthens UTSA’s argument for an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament.

UTSA (36-19) plays its next game Friday at 10 a.m. against top-seeded Southern Miss.

First pitch of the Roadrunners’ first-round game was delayed by 13 1/2 hours after Wednesday rain delays in Hattiesburg, Miss. pushed UTSA’s opener from Wednesday night to Thursday morning.

UTSA ace Luke Malone turned in a monster performance, pitching nine innings in relief. He entered the game with FAU runners on first and second with no outs in the bottom of the first. The two inherited runners scored as the Owls took their early lead.

“Luke was fabulous,” UTSA coach Pat Hallmark said in a postgame interview on ESPN+. “We need to do a little better with hitting with a man on third and one out. But we’re always looking for areas to improve. But the kids were gritty. They’ve been gritty all year.”

Malone limited FAU to two runs the rest of the way. He gave up six hits with four strikeouts and one walk and threw 107 pitches.

Florida Atlantic got two men on base in the bottom of the eighth, bringing the potential go-ahead run to the plate. UTSA had two pitchers warming up in the bullen and Hallmark went to the mound to visit Malone. Hallmark stuck with Malone and the veteran right-hander from Round Rock finished the game with three straight scoreless innings.

“I just wanted to see how he felt,” Hallmark said. “He pitched a long time. So that was the first thing was just how he felt.

“He’s not going to tell me he doesn’t feel good. But I know him pretty well. I can look him in the eyes and see if he’s BSing or if he really feels good. And I believed him. He felt good. He looked good. His eyes didn’t look fatigued or anything. His heart rate was slow. We kept him in and fortunately it worked out.”

UTSA went in front for good with two runs in the top of the eighth. Matt King’s sacrifice fly scored Chase Keng to break a 4-4 tie. Jonathan Tapia added a two-out single that scored Ian Bailey from second to stretch the lead to 6-4.

UTSA scored twice in the top of the sixth to take its first lead of the game and go up 4-3. Killeen scored the go-ahead run on an error. Leyton Barry recorded his third hit of game to lead off the inning. He scored on an Bailey hit to tie it 3-3.

Florida Atlantic’s Nolan Schanuel hit a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth to tie it 4-4.

UTSA loaded the bases in the top of the second. The Roadrunners scored with two outs on a ground ball that was mishandled to cut FAU’s lead to 2-1.

UTSA’s Keng hit a solo homer in the top of the fourth to even the game 2-2.

UTSA pitcher Braylon Owens made only his second start of the season and struggled to find the strike zone. He walked the two batters he faced and was replace by Malone.

Notable:

– Barry had hits in his first three times up. He was 4-for-4 on Saturday, so he had hits in seven straight at-bats over two games. He scored two of UTSA’s first four runs today.

– Keng also had three hits, including his ninth home run of the season.

– Bailey had three hits.

– UTSA finished with 13 hits. Florida Atlantic had six.

WEDNESDAY’S GAMES

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.

THURSDAY’S GAMES

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.

FRIDAY’S SCHEDULE

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.

SATURDAY’S SCHEDULE

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

SUNDAY’S SCHEDULE

Game 15: Championship, 1 p.m.

Sweet success: UTSA rallies to knock off No. 7 Texas State

Matt King had two hits and drove in three runs and had some strong defensive plays at shortstop in UTSA's 14-8 victory over Texas State on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

Freshman Matt King had two hits, drove in three runs and made some strong defensive plays at shortstop in UTSA’s 14-8 victory over Texas State. – Photo by Joe Alexander

After five innings in Tuesday night’s Interstate 35 rivalry game at Roadrunner Field, the feeling in the grandstands for fans of the visiting Texas State Bobcats was one of confidence.

The Texas State bullpen was toying with UTSA, stringing together four straight scoreless innings, all while using pinpoint control to keep the home-team’s hitters hopelessly off balance. A three-run lead for the seventh-ranked team in the nation? Well, it seemed pretty safe.

Ryan Beaird, a freshman from Reagan High School, pitched scoreless fifth and sixth innings to get the win in UTSA's 14-8 victory over Texas State on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

Ryan Beaird, a freshman from Reagan High School, pitched scoreless fifth and sixth innings to get the win. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Until the bottom of the sixth, that is. At that juncture, the Roadrunners took what may be remembered as an important step in their season — maybe the most important to date — by exploding for eight runs on the way to a decisive 14-8 victory.

Not only did the Roadrunners end the rival Bobcats’ nine-game winning streak, they also likely gained some national recognition, which could come in handy when bids are handed out for the NCAA postseason tournament.

“I think the most impressive thing (to) me about tonight was just seeing our team not give up, (seeing it) persist,” UTSA freshman Matt King said. “Coach (Pat) Hallmark is always talking about it. Persist. If we get down, we’re always in the game. It don’t matter how many outs are left. We’re always in the game.”

For the Bobcats, the bottom of the sixth was an inning filled with blown opportunities. If their pitchers had thrown only a few more strikes, they might have survived it. If their defense hadn’t made two errors, then UTSA’s four hits wouldn’t have caused nearly as much damage.

Texas State coach Steven Trout in a game at UTSA on Tuesday, April 26, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

The Texas State Bobcats, under third-year coach Steve Trout, moved up to seventh in one national poll earlier this week. – Photo by Joe Alexander

But, with two walks, a hit batsman, a botched double-play attempt and a fumbled bunt out in front of the pitcher’s mound, the Roadrunners took full advantage of the situation.

First, they seized the lead and then, ultimately, they blew the game open with a three-run double by King, an 18-year-old freshman from Kingwood Pak High School in the Houston area.

By the time King’s two-out, line drive into center field was chased down and relayed back to the infield, Sammy Diaz and Chase Keng had already scored. Isaiah Walker, who started out on first base, wheeled all the way around and slid in head first at home just ahead of a relay throw for a 13-8 UTSA lead.

“Right off the bat, I knew I squared it up,” King said. “I just put my head down and started running. I was just trying to get a pitch I could handle and help my team.”

UTSA fans, including some who live to celebrate success against Texas State in any sport, roared their approval and chanted the school’s four-letter name. ‘UT-SA!’ King just stood on second base, taking it all in.

“It’s always good to get a win,” King said. “But this one meant more. I mean, everyone came out to support. It was great. We had great energy at the Bird Bath tonight. It was awesome.”

For UTSA’s baseball players, the energy seems to be building by the day. They have won four in a row heading into a Conference USA weekend series at Middle Tennessee, and in their last 18 games, the Roadrunners have posted a 15-3 record.

John Chomko pitched two-plus scoreless innings in UTSA's 14-8 victory over Texas State on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

John Chomko struck out three in two scoreless innings for the Roadrunners. — Photo by Joe Alexander

Winning consistently in mid-week situations, they have registered victories this season against second-ranked Stanford, 11th-ranked TCU and now No. 7 Texas State, a Sun Belt Conference team with 32 victories.

Last week in San Marcos, Texas State held off UTSA, 14-12, claiming the win after the Roadrunners had scored seven runs in the top of the ninth. This week, the Roadrunners turned the tables, emerging victorious against the Bobcats for the first time since 2019.

“Yeah, it’s a little rivalry game,” Hallmark said. “(Texas State) coach (Steve) Trout, he does such a good job with them. We kind of started together (both hired, for the 2020 season), and we’re so close (in proximity), we pay a lot of attention to each other.

“I’ve got a great deal of respect for him. He’s got a great club. It’s a little bit like ours, (with) some older hitters. Hitters that are just very, very disciplined. They’re hard to strike out. They don’t let things bother them.

“It’s a great win, because they’re so good.”

Records

UTSA 28-13
Texas State 32-10

Notable

The Roadrunners fell behind early, 2-0, in the top of the first. Then they exploded for five in the bottom half for a three-run lead. Undeterred, the Bobcats answered with four runs in the second inning. Ben McClain hit a three-run homer and Dalton Shuffield a solo shot. In the third, the Bobcats added two more runs for an 8-5 lead.

On many nights previous to this one, the Bobcats might have rolled to a double-figure scoring total and a lopsided win. Not this time. UTSA relievers, including Simon Miller, Reece Easterling, Ryan Beaird (2-1), John Chomko and Luke Malone answered the call.

Trying to put out the fire in the third, Miller gave up an unearned run. But that was it. The Bobcats would not score again. Easterling pitched one inning, Beaird and Chomko worked two apiece, and then Malone — UTSA’s ace — finished with the last three outs.

Offensively, Leyton Barry had three hits, while Ian Bailey, Keng, Walker and King finished with two apiece.

King had a memorable sixth inning with two hits in two at bats. First, he singled and later scored. On his next time up, he lashed the 3-RBI double.

Keng is UTSA’s hottest hitter over UTSA’s 15-3 surge with 26 hits (in the 17 games that he has played during that stretch). Barry, meanwhile, is the team’s hottest hitter in the short term. In UTSA’s last five games, he has produced multiple hits in each game, 13 in all.

Hallmark praised King as a “savvy” athlete who has played year round since grade school. He showed off his poise late in the game, helping to turn a double play on one maneuver. On another, he made a difficult catch of a pop fly in foul territory.

With a .274 average at the plate, he is expected to improvce with age, maturity and time in the weight room.

Quotable

“At that plate, what he needs more than anything, is just strength, which comes with time,” Hallmark said. “His swing is fine. He’s got a good approach. He knows college pitching is tougher, and he’s working on it. He’s going to be a great hitter for us as long as the strength keeps comimg.”

Scenes from the sixth

Coming up

UTSA — Three-game C-USA series at Middle Tennessee State, starting Friday.
Texas State — Three-game series in the Sun Belt, at home, against South Alabama, starting Friday.