UTSA moved into the Top 25 in two polls Monday, 22nd in Baseball America and 25th in D1 Baseball. Roadrunners host the Texas State Bobcats Tuesday at 6 p.m. https://t.co/hyCDEtJ4sq pic.twitter.com/h5oyqXaDnI
— Jerry Briggs (@JerryBriggs) April 17, 2023
By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay
Like any decent baseball rivalry, a friendly debate between fans of the UTSA Roadrunners and the Texas State Bobcats can start at any moment.
A tweet here. A social media post there. The presence of one team’s fans in the home ballpark of the other. Just about anything can serve as a catalyst for a lively discussion.
With 22nd-ranked UTSA and Texas State set to play at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Roadrunner Field, fans on both sides are warming up their vocal chords. They’re itching to call up their their Twitter, Facebook or Instagram pages.
UTSA coach Pat Hallmark acknowledged over the weekend that, yes, the 31-year-old series between teams from universities separated by about 50 miles remains as a thing.
A South-Central Texas thing.
“Oh, yeah,” Hallmark said. “Cause it’s so close. Geographically, it’s a rivalry, in every way. The kids know it and they enjoy it, and I think the fans obviously know it. So it’s a rivalry. They’re a good team. It’ll be fun.”
Texas State (24-13) at UTSA (28-8), 6 p.m. Tuesday, at Roadrunner Field in San Antonio.
Both will hit the road for three-game series in their respective conferences starting Friday. Texas State travels to Alabama to meet the Troy Trojans in the Sun Belt, while UTSA will trek to Miami, Fla., to face the FIU Panthers in Conference USA.
Tonight’s game is the 101st meeting between the teams. Texas State leads the series, 61-39. Since 2020, the first season for both Hallmark and Texas State’s Steve Trout in their respective jobs, the teams are 2-2.
Trout’s Bobcats won 11-1 in eight innings in San Marcos in 2020. Last season, the Bobcats won again in San Marcos, 14-12, surviving the Roadrunners, who generated a seven-run rally in the ninth inning. Later, UTSA exacted a measure of revenge with a 14-8 victory at Roadrunner Field to split the season series.
On March 7 of this season, UTSA cranked out 16 hits and beat Texas State in San Marcos at Bobcat Field, 11-2. So, the Roadrunners have won two straight in the series and will be trying to make it three in a row tonight. The Bobcats will be attempting to win in San Antonio for the first time since March 5, 2019.
Monitoring the rankings
In the latest NCAA-generated ratings percentage index, UTSA is 29th this week, and Texas State is 68th. After a 4-0 week last week, UTSA has returned to the top 25 in various media-generated polls, notably at No. 22 in Baseball America and No. 25 in D1 Baseball.
Playing for bragging rights
The contrast between postseason fortunes of the two schools last year continues to stir passions among both fan bases.
For UTSA, last season ended in heartbreak. The Roadrunners got hot in the C-USA postseason, defeating the nationally-ranked Southern Miss Golden Eagles twice on their home field, before they came up short against Louisiana Tech in a title game that would have yielded an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. With a 38-20 record and nine wins against ranked opponents on the season, the Roadrunners were snubbed and did not receive an NCAA at-large bid.
The Bobcats, meanwhile, went on to win the Sun Belt regular-season title, claimed an at-large bid and then took Stanford to the wire in a riveting NCAA regional in Palo Alto, Calif. Texas State was three outs away from advancing to the Super Regional round for the first time in its history when Stanford scored three times in the bottom of the ninth to win, ousting Texas State from the tournament. The Bobcats finished 47-14.
Beating the big boys
The Bobcats have lost 13 games this season but they have caught fire lately, winning four straight. Last week, they lost on a Monday night at home to the nationally-ranked Texas Longhorns before turning around on Tuesday and beating UT on its home field in Austin. Last weekend, Texas State swept a Sun Belt series at home against the Marshall Thundering Herd, winning 5-1, 6-0 and 5-4.
On the same night the Bobcats were beating the Longhorns in Austin, the Roadrunners were winning on the road in the Southeastern Conference, downing the Texas A&M Aggies, 5-1, in College Station. UTSA continued its roll into the weekend, sweeping a C-USA home series against Middle Tennessee State, 13-5, 12-4 and 5-4, moving along on the way to 28 victories on the season. With 19 games remaining before the C-USA tournament, the school record of 39 wins seems to be in reach. As is the first program’s first NCAA tournament bid since 2013.
Are the Roadrunners worthy? Tonight might offer a few clues.