UTSA’s Hallmark on Robert Orloski: ‘He’s eager to pitch, and I’m eager to pitch him’

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

UTSA coach Pat Hallmark said late Friday night that freshman pitcher Robert Orloski is healthy and that he possibly could return to game action as early as this weekend against the South Florida Bulls.

“Rob’s fine,” Hallmark said. “For a freshman, it’s a long season. It’s a longer season than (freshmen) are used to. He had a little spell there where he wasn’t pitching his best. I just think it was at that point, where a lot of freshman hit a little bit of a wall physically.”

Orloski, from Middleton, Idaho, opened the season with some fanfare, starting in Game 1 for the Roadrunners. In 13 appearances this season, mostly as a Friday night starter, he has worked 48 and 2/3 innings.

Over that stretch, he has posted a 3-4 record with a 6.10 earned run average.

The hard-throwing righthander seemed to be at his best in March, when UTSA won home games against the Grand Canyon Lopes and the 10th-ranked East Carolina Pirates. In each game, the Roadrunners won against formidable opponents and quality pitchers.

Notably, Orloski pitched six innings to beat East Carolina and All-American righthander Trey Yesavage at Roadrunner Field on March 22. In April, however, the freshman suffered a few tough outings.

As a result, Hallmark decided to sit him down for awhile.

“He said he was fine,” the coach said. “His velocities were fine. But, when you’re used to playing — at the most — 30 to 35 games, and we’re (approaching) 50 now … For freshmen, it’s more than they’re used to, so we just gave him a little break.”

Asked if Orloski might pitch either of the final two games against South Florida, Hallmark stopped short of saying it would definitely happen.

“He’s ready,” the coach said. “He’s healthy. He’s eager to pitch and I’m eager to pitch him. So, I think you’ll see him. If you don’t see him this weekend, it’s because we’re pitching really well (which) is a good thing.

But we’re looking to pitch him.”

As of Friday night, Hallmark said he planned to start Zach Royse in Game 2. His Game 3 starter? Undetermined.

Baseball: Roadrunners to host the Bobcats tonight in I-35 rivalry

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The drama of the Interstate 35 baseball rivalry between the UTSA Roadrunners and the Texas State Bobcats will unfold once again tonight in San Antonio. First pitch in the 103rd meeting between the teams is at 6 p.m. at Roadrunner Field.

Texas State leads 63-39 in the series, which started in 1992. Each year it showcases athletes who grew up in the area, who are now representing universities separated by about 50 miles of freeway through South Texas.

For years, the teams played against one another in the Southland Conference, and then they shared membership for one season in the Western Athletic Conference.

Since 2014, they’ve played in separate leagues, with Texas State operating in the Sun Belt and UTSA in Conference USA and now, starting with this season, in the American Athletic Conference.

UTSA and Texas State have battled the past five years under successful coaches, with Pat Hallmark leading the Roadrunners and Steven Trout guiding the Bobcats. Trout’s Texas State teams own a 4-2 edge against UTSA in that time.

Earlier this season, on March 19, pitching changes were plentiful and home-run balls were flying all over the place as the Bobcats claimed a 14-13 victory over the Roadrunners in San Marcos.

Seven homers were launched, including four by UTSA, on a night when Texas State used eight pitchers and UTSA seven.

The two teams opened the game by going back and forth on each other with scoring binges. UTSA plated four runs in the top of the first inning. Texas State retaliated with nine in the bottom half. By the end of the third inning, the Bobcats led, 14-8.

UTSA stayed in it, with a shot to win, until the very end. Trailing by three runs going into their last at bat, the Roadrunners received a lift when freshman Diego Diaz hit a two-run homer.

Still trailing by one, the Roadrunners had base runners at first and second when Texas State’s Aaron Lugo fielded a ground ball in the infield and stepped on third for a force play to end it.


Texas State 22-23
UTSA 25-18

Coming up

Tonight: Texas State at UTSA, 6 p.m.

AAC series: Wichita State at UTSA
Friday – 6 p.m.
Saturday — 2 p.m.
Sunday — 1 p.m.


Roadrunners coach Pat Hallmark has a chance to reach a career milestone tonight. A victory would give him 200 in his career. Hallmark is 199-138 in seven seasons, which includes two at the University of the Incarnate Word and five at UTSA.

UTSA has played well overall since the March 19 loss to Texas State, posting a 15-7 record since then. The Roadrunners faltered a bit last weekend, losing two at Rice before claiming a 4-2 victory on Sunday behind the pitching of starter Ulises Quiroga. It was the first series loss for the Roadrunners in conference this season. UTSA is 12-6 in the AAC and sits in second place.

After beating UTSA, Texas State has struggled, going 10-14 in a 24-game stretch. Last weekend in Jonesboro, Ark., the Bobcats dropped back-to-back, one-run decisions to Arkansas State before rebounding to claim a 10-0, run-rule victory on Sunday. Drayton Brown pitched a complete game for the win, which could help tonight if the Bobcats need to go deep into their bullpen. Texas State is 8-13 in conference, 11th out of 14 teams.

Ryne Farber, a Texas State freshman from San Antonio’s Johnson High School, has hit safely in all seven games since returning from injury back on April 19. The San Antonio native is 13 for 25 at the plate for a .520 average during that stretch. Farber didn’t play in the first UTSA-Texas State game.

Offensive leaders

Texas State
Batting average: Farber .398, Kameron Weil .327, Aaron Lugo .298.
Home runs: Lugo 9, Daylan Pena 7, August Ramirez 7.
RBI: Pena 39, Chase Mora 38, Lugo 33.

Batting average: Mason Lytle .385, Isaiah Walker .357, Caleb Hill .351.
Home runs: Lytle 9, Hill 9, James Taussig 6.
RBI: Lytle 37, Hill 35, Matt King 34.

Orloski earns opening-day start on the mound as UTSA rolls with a talented freshman

UTSA baseball media day and practice on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

The batting cage was alive with activity Tuesday as UTSA hosted media day and prepared for Friday’s opener against the UT-Arlington Mavericks. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Last year, the UTSA baseball team relied on a time-tested veteran as its starting pitcher on Friday nights. Senior Luke Malone was the man to open most three-game series. When games got dicey, the Roadrunners called on reliever Simon Miller.

Coach Pat Hallmark. UTSA baseball media day and practice on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Coach Pat Hallmark announced that freshman Robert Orloski will start the season opener Friday at home against UT-Arlington. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Bases loaded in the fifth? With the opponent’s cleanup man at the plate? UTSA trying to protect a one-run lead? Everyone at Roadrunner Field knew that Miller would get the ball in that situation.

Ultimately, UTSA rode the Malone-Miller combination to a 28-8 start that vaulted the Roadrunners into the national Top 25 for the first time in school history.

This season, they’ll open their first series of the season at home Friday afternoon with a different look altogether. Instead of veteran savvy on the mound, Coach Pat Hallmark will roll with a freshman. He announced Tuesday afternoon on media day that he’ll start highly-touted righthander Robert Orloski against UT Arlington.

As a matter of fact, the Roadrunners will stay young in the second game of the four-game series and in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, as well, going with sophomore righty Ruger Riojas. So, with Miller scheduled to pitch this season in the Cincinnati Reds’ minor-league system, who will take his place?

Who will fill that all-important bullpen role? Hallmark admittedly doesn’t have an answer just yet.

“I don’t know,” Hallmark said. “Multiple people at this point. Hopefully that evolves. From a pure talent standpoint, I don’t think we have a Simon Miller. Simon … had a major league breaking ball. He could keep his breaking ball from 87 to 90 miles per hour and keep it depthy. We just don’t have someone that’s going to do that, right?

Ruger Riojas. UTSA baseball media day and practice on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Ruger Riojas is set to open the season as the Roadrunners’ No. 2 starter. Riojas, from Wimberley, was 5-0 with a 4.11 earned run average out of the bullpen last year. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“We do have some guys that are pretty good. Daniel Garza’s solid. And others. But that’s an evolving role at this point.”

UTSA is banking on Orloski to have the chops to withstand all the pressure that comes with being an opening-day starter. Last spring, he was pitching in high school in Middleton, Idaho. In July, the 6-foot-4, 190-pounder with the low 90s fastball and good command was drafted by the Boston Red Sox.

Ultimately, he turned down the opportunity and decided he wanted to attend college instead. “He’s talented,” Hallmark said. “He was drafted by the Red Sox out of high school in the 20th round, so you know he’s got some talent. And he’s mature. I don’t think Rob will be rattled. I could be wrong, right? But eventually Rob’s going to be a very good college pitcher, so we might as well start finding out when right now.”

Orloski already rates as one of the most-watched pitchers on the team by the veterans. Junior third baseman Matt King said he enjoys watching him work. “I have a lot of high expectations for him,” King said. “I like watching him. He pounds the zone. He throws hard. He’s one of my favorite pitchers on this team.”

Matt King. UTSA baseball media day and practice on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Matt King is expected to play third base this season after starting most of the last two seasons at shortstop. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Honored as Gatorade Pitcher of the Year in Idaho in 2023, Orloski will hardly be the only newcomer on the field for UTSA on opening day. It is probably a safe bet that fans will see veterans Matt King, Isaiah Walker and Caleb Hill on the field somewhere. King, a preseason All-American Athletic Conference pick, likely will be at third base. Walker and Hill will be out there somewhere.

But after that, it’s hard to read Hallmark’s mind on who will be where. What is known, at this point, is that the newcomers will face expectations. UTSA won 38 games in each of the last two seasons. Both teams finished high in the Conference USA race. Everyone in the renovated ball park this spring will want to see all that, and more.

“It’s new, right?” Hallmark said. “There’s certainly expectations after the last two years, which is wonderful. We don’t shy away from it. That’s what we want. We talk about it. But (there) are new players. They haven’t done it before. So, we need to tee it up and see how they do.

“It won’t be perfect, right? We’re going to have bad games and some bad play. But I think we’ll figure it out. We just need to figure it out as soon as possible.”

Hallmark said a conference championship is the next step for his program.

“We finished second in the conference last year and third the year before,” he said. “I think it’s easy and appropriate to say the next step is to win a conference championship and to play in the NCAA tournament. Those are the two things that are the next step.”

Coming up
UT Arlington at UTSA

Game One – Friday, 4 p.m.
Games Two and Three — Doubleheader on Saturday, first game starting at noon
Game Four – Sunday, 1 p.m.


Building a foundation of success: UTSA baseball opens a new season this week

UTSA coach Pat Hallmark. UTSA baseball beat Houston 12-2 in 7 innings on a run rule on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Pat Hallmark will lead the Roadrunners into a season-opening series at home this weekend against UT-Arlington. – File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

College baseball season has arrived, with UTSA coach Pat Hallmark and a few players expected to address the media later today to talk about their hopes and dreams.

Topics of discussion are expected to include heightened expectations in the wake of back-to-back, 38-win seasons and what’s expected in the way of a lineup for the opener Friday at home against UT-Arlington.

In addition, we will surely hear questions asked about the renovations at Roadrunner Field and the transition from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference.

The playing surface at Roadrunner Field has been fixed after it unexpectedly sustained damage during construction last month. As a precaution, the Roadrunners spent at least the first weekend of official practices in late January at off-campus locations.

“The team has been practicing and playing intrasquad games at Roadrunner Field for the past two weeks,” a school spokeswoman said in a text last Friday.

Despite the issues related to their field, the baseball program is on solid footing. A winning culture has been established. Last year’s team played much of the second half of the season ranked in the Top 25.

I had a chance to visit with Coach Hallmark a few weeks ago. In that interview we talked about the expectations this season — UTSA is picked third in the AAC — and how the personnel might be utilized.

Some of the information I have had in my notebook may be a little outdated by now in the wake of recent practices and evaluations, but I wanted to share it with you, anyway.

Given all that, here is a look at the Roadrunners, position by position:

Catcher — JUCO transfers Andrew Stucky, Broc Parmer and Lorenzo Moressi are expected to split duties through the early portion of the season, with freshman Whitt Joyce from Medina Valley waiting in the wings. The three from JUCO all enjoyed productive seasons at the plate last year. “They all look good,” Hallmark said. “They’re all fighting for the No. 1 spot.”

First base — Senior transfer Alex Olivo, a senior transfer from Texas Southern, and returning player James Taussig both hit with home run power. Also, JUCO transfer Mark Henning is in the mix. All three bat from the left side. Hallmark says first base is “fairly open” at this point. “We have multiple guys that can hit. We’re looking for that combination of hitter-best defender, and one of those guys could end up at DH,” the coach said.

Second base — Isaiah Walker, a .273 hitter a year ago who sat out down the stretch with a hamstring injury. “Isaiah,” Hallmark said, “is a guy we wish we had nine of him, because he can play anywhere on the field. Good defense everywhere.” Also, either of three newcomers, Hector Rodriguez, Zane Spinn or Diego Diaz.

Shortstop — Rodriguez and Spinn. Also, Diaz. Rodriguez played in high school at Houston Westside and at Galveston College. Spinn, from Holland, Tex., also has played at Temple JC. He was at Sam Houston State last year but did not play for the Bearkats, who won a mid-week game off UTSA at Roadrunner Field. Spinn, at 6-4 and 218 pounds, has the potential to hit home runs. Diaz is from the Rio Grande Valley, from Pharr and Sharyland High School.

Third base — Matt King is UTSA’s most accomplished returning player. Over the past two seasons, he has played in 108 games and started 99. He hit for a .318 average last year, slugged six home runs and produced 58 RBIs. “Matt had a good year last year,” the coach said. “We’re looking for him to do that again.” In case of injury, the coach said any of the players at second or third could move over.

Outfielders — Look for returning players Caleb Hill, Isaiah Walker, Tye Odom, James Taussig and Dalton Porter, plus newcomer Mason Lytle, a transfer from Oregon, to play. Hill, who hit .318 with seven homers and 41 RBIs last year, is solid in left field. “Lytle, Odom and Walker, all of ’em are terrific defenders,” Hallmark said. “Any of ’em could be in center. Any of ’em could be in right.”

Pitching — Ulises Quiroga, Ruger Riojas, Daniel Garza, Drake Smith and Ryan Beaird, in that order, logged the most innings pitched for the Roadrunners last year. Coaches are counting on those five along with Ryan Ward to step up their productivity. Also, Braylon Owens looked sharp in early workouts. Braden Smith, a standout from two years ago, is healthy again after missing all of last year.

An intriguing story is Idaho native Robert Orloski, a 6-foot-3 righthander who signed with UTSA and then was drafted in the 20th round of the major league draft by the Boston Red Sox. On Tuesday afternoon, Hallmark named Orloski as his opening-day starter, with Riojas second in the rotation.

Damaged playing surface at Roadrunner Field forces first official practices off campus

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The UTSA baseball team opened practices off campus for three days last weekend as work progressed on a project to upgrade Roadrunner Field.

UTSA coach Pat Hallmark. UTSA scored four runs in the seventh inning to rally past Rice 9-7 in Conference USA baseball on Friday, May 5, 2023, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Pat Hallmark says his team held its first official practices last weekend off campus after Roadrunner Field was damaged in efforts to lay underground cable. – File photo by Joe Alexander

The project includes a new press box and a new grandstand behind home plate that will include chair-back seating. Dugouts also are being expanded.

Fifth-year coach Pat Hallmark said in an interview on Monday morning that recent work to lay underground cable for television went awry and left the field unplayable in different areas.

“They did something under the ground,” Hallmark said. “… and they damaged the field in multiple places. So that’s got us practicing somewhere else.”

Explaining the situation, Hallmark said “a drill powered by air and water” was in use, “and somehow it backed up, and everything came up,” leaving the field wet and mushy in parts of the infield and the outfield.

“It was like a water bed when you walked on it,” the coach said.

The portion of the infield that had been soggy is now dried and just needs “patching up,” Hallmark said, but the outfield area in shallow center remains an issue.

“It’s more of a mess,” the coach said. “I guess there’s more moisture under there. I don’t know exactly (why). But it’s not even dry yet (and) we’ve had three good days of dry (weather). Anyway, I don’t know even all the details. I just know we can’t play a game on our field.”

After off-campus workouts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, players had Monday off. Come Tuesday, the plan called for them to work at Roadrunner Field because there is no intrasquad game scheduled. “You can control practice better when there’s no intrasquad game,” the coach explained.

Hallmark acknowledged that the uncertainty with the playing surface on the team’s home field is “a little bit” of a distraction with the regular-season opener looming on Feb. 16.

“Some of these high schools and their (baseball) programs have been very gracious, to let us on their fields,” he said, noting that the team has practiced at Antonian, Central Catholic and Cornerstone.

Added Hallmark, “We’re getting our work in. Like I said, we’ve played 23 innings, which is what we had planned, whether it was here or (elsewhere). So, (we) adapt and move on.”

Hallmark is in the initial stages of preparing to build on back-to-back 38-win seasons. Last spring, the Roadrunners started out sizzling with a 28-8 record, soaring into the national top 25 for most of April and May.

After a few key players suffered injuries, their momentum was slowed significantly.

Even then, the Roadrunners still had a chance to win the Conference USA title going into their last home series.

But in the end, the Dallas Baptist Patriots swept three straight games at Roadrunner Field to clinch the regular-season title. UTSA finished in second place and bowed out of the C-USA tournament in two straight games.

Transitioning into the American Athletic Conference this season, UTSA has been picked to finish third even though standouts such as Simon Miller, Luke Malone, Antonio Valdez, Taylor Smith, Leyton Barry and Josh Killeen have moved on in their careers.

Hallmark, speaking to a reporter in his office at the Roadrunner Athletics Center of Excellence on Monday morning, shrugged off the AAC preseason poll by saying that it doesn’t mean much.

“It doesn’t matter, to be honest,” he said. “Whether we were first, third or last, we still got to go out there and play good ball. Throw strikes. Play defense. Fight at the plate. That’s what I’m hoping we do.”


UTSA opens with a home series against UT-Arlington on Feb. 16.

Top returning position players for the Roadrunners include Matt King, who has moved from shortstop to play third base, outfielder Caleb Hill and infielder/outfielder Isaiah Walker. King has been named to the preseason all-AAC team. UTSA’s most productive returning pitchers would include Ulises Quiroga and Ruger Riojas.

Righthander Braylon Owens, who went 3-2 in 2022 but struggled last year, pitched well last weekend as the team played 23 innings intrasquad.

A couple of newcomers to watch are fleet outfielder Mason Lytle, a transfer from Oregon, and freshman pitcher Robert Orloski.

Lytle sat out most of last season with the Ducks with an injury, but in previous years he was .339 hitter in his career at San Jacinto College. Lytle played in high school at Pearland in the Houston area. Orloski, an Idaho native who completed high school last spring, was drafted in the 20th round in July by the Boston Red Sox. He did not sign and elected to play for the Roadrunners.

Simon Miller, a righthanded reliever, is expected to report to training camp with the Cincinnati Reds in coming weeks.

Dallas Baptist coach says UTSA still belongs in the NCAA at-large conversation

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Before leaving the ball park on Sunday afternoon, Dallas Baptist coach Dan Heefner had a couple of interesting takeaways from his team’s three-game sweep of the UTSA Roadrunners.

First of all, he praised his players for rising to the challenge and seizing the regular-season title in the program’s first year in Conference USA. Next, he said the Patriots helped themselves in regard to the merits on whether they deserve to be one of 16 hosts of an NCAA tournament regional.

But, most interesting, he said he believes the Roadrunners still belong in the discussion to reach the 64-team NCAAs even if they come up short of the C-USA tournament title.

“I think without a doubt they’re still in the mix,” he said Sunday after his team completed an 11-7, 11-9 and 9-6 weekend sweep at Roadrunner Field.

By Monday morning, it became apparent that the Roadrunners will need to play extremely well in their last four regular season games and in the conference tournament to gain an at-large bid.

And, quite possibly, the only sure way for the Roadrunners to play in an NCAA regional this season would be to win C-USA postseason title in Houston, which would yield an automatic bid.

UTSA’s precarious position became evident when the NCAA Division I baseball ratings percentage index was published overnight following last weekend’s games. The latest NCAA RPI has Dallas Baptist as the C-USA’s top-rated team at No. 15, which is up 10 spots. The latest listing for UTSA is at No. 60, which is down six spots.

Last year, UTSA was 37th after grinding all the way through to the C-USA postseason championship game, where it lost to Louisiana Tech. On the next day, a 38-win UTSA team was not in the 64-team NCAA field despite winning twice on the road in the C-USA tournament against the regular-season champion and top 15 Southern Miss Golden Eagles.

Right now, the Roadrunners can point to a 2-1 record this season against RPI top-50 programs. Namely, a road victory over RPI No. 39 Texas A&M and a 1-1 split against RPI No. 47 Texas State. Also, they have been as consistent in the regular season as anyone in the nation, going 11-1-1 in weekend series.

On top of that, they’re 36-15 and 19-7 in conference, failing to win on the weekend at Charlotte and Dallas Baptist at home. Moreover, they’ve been in the top 25 in various media polls since the first week of April.

Last week, the DI Baseball poll had them at No. 22. On Monday morning, the DI poll dropped UTSA out of the Top 25, while moving Dallas Baptist up one notch to No. 17.

Still looming on UTSA’s schedule are four road games, Tuesday at Abilene Christian and Thursday through Saturday at Louisiana Tech. The C-USA tournament is set for the following week, from May 24-28, at Reckling Park in Houston.

At present, Heefner insisted that UTSA still belongs in the discussion for an at-large bid.

“Yes, for an at large,” he said. “They’ve been really consistent all season long. Obviously, I feel like we have a really good team. (Also), they’ve still got their Tuesday game, they got next weekend (at LA Tech) and the conference tournament. They’re a talented team and they’ve put themselves in a really good position.

“I think if they finish well, they have a very deserving shot at an at=large bid.”

UTSA was 25-5 at home before Dallas Baptist arrived, making the Patriots’ sweep all the more noteworthy. Heefner said he hopes his team’s performance at Roadrunner Field will aid in its desire to host an NCAA regional.

“That’s a thing for the (NCAA) committee, but that’s a goal we have as a program. We’ve done it before, and we schedule in a way that we’re going to really challenge ourselves in a non-conference schedule standpoint, because we do want to put ourselves in that position. I think our guys have done a great job and have been pretty consistent.

“You know, we had one little stretch at the very beginning of the year, and then ever since then, we’ve played really well. I think we’ve played like a (first-weekend) host team.”

UTSA coach Pat Hallmark discusses his desire for a home-stadium upgrade

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

UTSA baseball coach Pat Hallmark has been riding an emotional wave over the past few days. He’s seen his team surge into the top 25 in the national rankings for the second time this season. He’s watched as the fans flocked to modest Roadrunner Field, packing it to overflow proportions.

Hallmark has also felt some of the undertow associated with the job.

Fourth-year UTSA coach Pat Hallmark has guided the program into the national spotlight. — File photo by Joe Alexander

His 22nd-ranked Roadrunners lost 5-3 at home Tuesday night to the I-35 rival Texas State Bobcats in front of a season-high 1,059 fans. It was a game replete with passion in both dugouts, and Hallmark, an intense competitor, got caught up in the moment.

Irritated by the home-plate umpire’s work in calling balls and strikes, he was thrown out in the bottom of the seventh for expressing his opinion on the matter. A day later, UTSA’s coach met with the media and talked about his ouster, as well as a number of other issues suddenly swirling around one of the hottest teams in the country.

With the Conference USA-leading Roadrunners scheduled to play in Miami, Fla., this weekend against the FIU Panthers, Hallmark was surprisingly candid in his assessment of the team’s potential for the season.

He even talked about the chance of playing in the College World Series — this season — and his long-term goal of building momentum within the university to upgrade the team’s home-stadium situation.

“I know we’re good,” Hallmark said. “I don’t know how far we can go. We need to stay healthy … If we’re healthy, I don’t see why we can’t play in Omaha (for the CWS). It’s a big statement, and again, I want to be careful what I say, because we haven’t even made the tournament.

“Like that’s really our first goal. Our goal is to win 40 games. Win a championship in our conference. We get two shots at that (regular season and postseason). And make a regional. So, that’s where we’re focused. But we need to stay healthy, and if we do that, I like our chances.”

Asked about the “next step” that the program needs to take to sustain the winning, Hallmark didn’t hesitate. He said it was a stadium. Roadrunner Field, comprised of three aluminum sections that seat around 800, is lacking in amenities that could aid recruiting, create more comfort for fans and increase media exposure.

“You know, what we did last year and what we’re doing right now is fantastic,” Hallmark said. “I’m not sure how sustainable it is in the world of (NCAA) Division I recruiting, without a stadium and a field. You know, we play in a high school — it’s not even a high-school stadium — it’s a JV stadium.

“That’s what my kids tell me, and they both play high school baseball. I’m not here to complain about it. My kids don’t complain about it. You start the game. It’s 90 feet to the bases. We kind of use it as a chip on our shoulder. Like, other people don’t respect us as much cause of the stadium. We can play baseball.”

Hallmark is in his fourth season at UTSA. Over the past two years, the Roadrunners have forged a 66-29 record, including 28-9 this spring.

UTSA has bolstered its standing nationally by beating Houston, Baylor and, last week, Texas A&M. For the national media, the team has become something of a darling, rising to No. 22 in Baseball America and to No. 25 in D1 Baseball.

In Conference USA, the Roadrunners will carry a 12-2 record into the second half, a half game ahead of 12-3 Dallas Baptist. Louisiana Tech, last year’s C-USA tournament champion, is next at 9-6. Middle Tennessee, another talented team, is fourth at 8-7 after being swept in San Antonio by UTSA.

Coming up

UTSA at FIU (15-22, 3-12), Friday, 6:30 p.m.
UTSA at FIU, Saturday, 4 p.m.
UTSA at FIU, Sunday, noon


Asked how often he has talked with university administrators about the stadium situation, Hallmark answered, “Not enough. Not enough.”

Recounting the ejection

With Texas State leading 5-2 and UTSA batting in the bottom of the seventh, the coach started talking to the home plate umpire. Eventually, the tensions mounted and he was ejected. Video showed rushing up to the home plate area and talking. “I tried not to do it prolonged and get suspended for the next game, and from what I understand, I’m not, so I’m happy about that,” he said.

Hailing the fans

UTSA pitcher Luke Malone, the likely starter for Friday night at FIU, talked about how the Texas State game was an enjoyable experience despite the loss.

“I know we lost, but it was pretty fun,” he said. “We never stopped fighting, and the crowd here was awesome. We were stretching down all the way (on the grass berm). It got super loud. I mean, people were getting on the umpire. That’s always fun. But it’s the way we fought. I know we didn’t win. But we never gave up. We never folded.”

Malone said Hallmark’s ejection “fired up the dugout … I really thought we were going to pull away. But we didn’t get it done.”

Working to boost the RPI

Last year, UTSA ended the season with a ratings percentage index of 37. It wasn’t good enough for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. After the weekend, UTSA’s RPI was 29 following a sweep of Middle Tennessee State in Conference USA. Today, after the loss to Texas State, the number is at 39.

To illustrate how much progress the program has made in that regard, Hallmark said conversations have taken place in regard to submitting a bid to host an NCAA regional. He said he has discussed it with administrators, the idea of hosting a first-round tournament, presumably at Wolff Stadium.

“I’m not saying we’re going to (host),” he said. “Our RPI is not there. We are not in a position to host. The RPI would have to improve. But at the end of the day, the conversation (came) up, because I guess you got to put in those bids fairly early.”

He said coaches and players are realists, however. “We’re not even in the tournament,” the coach said. “By golly, we got a lot of work to do to make the tournament. So, let’s go to work.”

After a significant win at Texas A&M, UTSA stays focused and routs Middle Tennessee State

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

In the aftermath of an important non-conference road victory at Texas A&M on Tuesday night, the UTSA Roadrunners celebrated, but they didn’t lose their minds — or their focus.

Sure, the players made quite a bit of noise in the back of the bus on the way home, as they usually do when they win, but Coach Pat Hallmark said it really wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.

“That was a great feeling, obviously,” UTSA second baseman Leyton Barry said of the 5-1 victory over the Aggies. “Anytime you’re playing a big school, in state, especially at their place — big stadium — to come out with a win was fantastic.”

Barry agreed, though, that the post-game mood wasn’t anything too crazy.

“It’s sort of like the mood will be in the locker room after we pull this tarp tonight,” he said Friday night after the Roadrunners drilled the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, 13-5, to open a three-game weekend series. “We feel good. But there’s a lot of season left. There’s a lot of games to play. So we stay focused.”

Such was the atmosphere after the Roadrunners exploded for 17 hits and maintained a hold on first place in the Conference USA standings.

Matt King and Barry both launched two-run home runs to back the pitching of starter Luke Malone as UTSA (26-8, 10-2) remained a half game ahead of Dallas Baptist (25-9, 10-3) in the C-USA.

Malone (5-2) pitched through five innings and exited with a 5-2 lead to earn the victory, outdueling Middle Tennessee starter Patrick Johnson (2-2).

Johnson, a freshman righthander, was stung early in the game by King and Barry.

In the second inning, King, a right-side hitter, redirected a fast ball and sent it on a high arc onto the screen above the left field wall. In the third, Barry did the honors. A left-side hitter, he saw a ball on the outside of the plate and smashed it opposite field into the same neighborhood that King hit his.

All told, Johnson yielded seven runs on 10 hits.

The Roadrunners, who have produced a combined 30 hits in their last two games, scored twice in the second, twice in the third, once in the fourth and four times apiece in the fifth and sixth for a commanding 13-4 lead.

“We swung the bat good,” Hallmark said. “The wind was blowing out early, and we hit a couple up into it. We hit good. I was very happy with everything. We (also) pitched well.”

Neither Barry nor King has felt really good lately about their hitting strokes, but whatever was ailing them, they seem to have ironed it out.

Barry went three for four with three runs scored and two RBIs. He homered, tripled and singled. King, for his part, was two for four with a season-high five RBIs.

“It feels great,” King said. “I really just went out there and trusted the training. Past couple of weeks have been a roller-coaster for me. Me and Barry, honestly. So it was good for both of us to get out there and trust the training and have good swings and have a good day.”


UTSA 26-8, 10-2
Middle Tennessee State 17-15, 8-5

Coming up

Middle Tennessee State at UTSA, Saturday, 2 p.m.
Middle Tennessee State at UTSA, Sunday, noon.

JB’s replay

Malone, who pitched a scoreless inning in relief at Texas A&M, worked five innings against Middle Tennessee State and gave up two runs on five hits.

Walker finished the night three for five with a double and two singles. He also had an RBI, a stolen base and two runs scored.

The Blue Raiders also made contact well as a team, collecting 12 hits. But they were all singles, compared to the Roadrunners, who had nine extra-base hits among their 17.

Garza, one of the standouts in last year’s C-USA tournament, worked three innings. He gave up three runs, only one earned, on five hits. Lefthander Zach Royse pitched the ninth and retired three in a row.

Loopy swings? UTSA explodes for 15 hits in a 7-2 victory to sweep WKU

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

At the risk of nit-picking a program that very well may have something special going this season, the UTSA Roadrunners have looked out of sorts at the plate lately. Coach Pat Hallmark has acknowledged that the swings have been “a little loopy,” which often leads to weak contact.

Digging down deep in the energy reserves and taking it back to the basics, UTSA players worked diligently in batting practice the past few days in an effort to iron out the glitches, and it all paid dividends Sunday with a 15-hit barrage, a 7-2 victory over the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and a sweep of a three-game Conference USA home series.

“I know our offense has been struggling in the past few games,” UTSA outfielder Shane Sirdashney said. “We kind of went back to the basics in (batting practice) today and yesterday. We just kind of put it on display today (and) bought in with Coach Hallmark’s approach at the plate. I’m just glad we got the hitting rolling today going into next week. To get the sweep, it felt good.”

With the victory, UTSA (23-6, 8-1) stayed in firm control of first place in the C-USA through three weekends of play. Western Kentucky (16-13, 2-7) sent hard-throwing lefty Devyn Terbak to the mound, but UTSA lit him up with two runs in the second, one in the third and three in the fifth to take charge.

Sirdashney led the uprising with four hits, including a solo home run. Matt King had three hits and Antonio Valdez, Taylor Smith and Leyton Barry two apiece. For Hallmark, it was a welcome change from the first two games of the series when Hilltoppers pitching went for extended stretches stringing zeroes on the scoreboard against the Roadrunners.

UTSA had only four hits in a 3-2 victory Friday night and then six in a 5-4 decision Saturday afternoon. As a result, batting practice for the Roadrunners started at 9:30 a.m. for the series finale, which would start at 12:30 p.m.

“The bats came back a little bit today, which was nice to see,” Hallmark said. “We pitched well again. But it was important to get those bats going. The guys have been working really hard. Hitting is cyclical like this, where it comes and goes. That’s just the nature of it.

“Big league hitters, the best ones, don’t always hit. The guys have been very persistent, trusting (the process) and it worked out today.”

Hallmark acknowledged the emphasis on a different approach at the plate.

“We’ve been a little loopy,” the coach said. “There’s been a little bit of what we call length of arc in our swings. So we’ve just been working at it. You know, it wasn’t like we just worked at it today. We’ve been working at it for awhile. But sometimes it manifests itself later than what you want.

“Those guys have some good pitching, so that’s part of it, too. But today it did work itself out.”

Drake Smith, Daniel Garza and Braylon Owens combined to hold the Hilltoppers to eight hits. Between the three of them, they didn’t walk a batter. Garza (4-1) earned the victory with 4 and 2/3 innings of relief, allowing only one run.

Defensive plays also had the fans in the grandstands buzzing from time to time. After allowing a ball to get over his head for a double, Sirdashney ended one inning with a catch and a perfect relay throw to King, who fired to third to cut down a runner. A few innings later, King stole a hit with a diving stab of a low and sinking line drive.


Western Kentucky 16-13, 2-7
UTSA 23-6, 8-1

Coming up

UTSA at Incarnate Word, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.
UTSA at Charlotte, Thursday, 5 p.m.
UTSA at Charlotte, Friday, 5 p.m.
UTSA at Charlotte, Saturday, noon

Today’s video replay

Malone gets opening-day start for UTSA against Tarleton State

UTSA pitcher Luke Malone got the win against Florida International on Friday, April 22, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

Pitcher Luke Malone is expected to take the mound tonight in the season-opener for the UTSA Roadrunners, who will host the Tarleton State Texans in the opener of a three-game series. – File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Temperatures that could dip into the 30s are expected for the UTSA baseball team’s season opener tonight against the Tarleton State Texans at Roadrunner Field.

Senior righthander Luke Malone is expected to start for the Roadrunners against the Texans’ hard-throwing righty, Will Stevens, with first pitch set for at 6 p.m.

UTSA, of Conference USA, and Tarleton, a third-year Division I program in the Western Athletic Conference, will play again Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.

“Everybody’s ready to go,” UTSA coach Pat Hallmark said in an interview on Thursday afternoon after his team’s final preseason practice.

Hallmark said he is unsure of his batting order, though it could be first baseman Garrett Poston leading off, followed by Shane Sirdashney in center field, Leyton Barry at second base and Taylor Smith at designated hitter.

After that, in an order to be determined, fans could see shortstop Matt King, catcher Josh Killeen and third baseman Antonio Valdez among those in the fifth through ninth spots.

The remaining two presumably would be between several players vying for corner outfield positions, including Garrett Brooks, Tye Odom, Isaiah Walker, Caleb Hill and Dalton Porter.

Regardless of the batters in UTSA’s opening-day lineup, they are expected to be challenged by Stevens, a transfer from Wichita State.

Hallmark said he had the pitching machine at Thursday’s practice cranked up to get his players ready for 100-mph fastballs.

The coach expressed cautious optimism about what to expect from his team on opening weekend.

“I think everyone thinks they’re ready until somebody exposes you a little bit,” Hallmark said. “I’ve been around long enough to know, we’ll find a little bit out about ourselves … There’ll be some good and some bad. Hopefully it’ll be a lot more good.”

UTSA will play eight home games over the next 10 days, so fans will likely see much of the Roadrunners’ pitching arsenal. Newcomer Robbie Maldonado is expected to start Saturday and Ulises Quiroga on Sunday.

The back end of the bullpen is one of the team’s strengths, highlighted by Simon Miller and Daniel Shafer.

UTSA had four players named to the preseason all Conference USA squad, led by Barry, a .349 hitter last year, Malone, Miller and Shafer. Malone led UTSA with a 9-3 record and a 2.67 earned run average.

“I expect we’ll throw strikes,” Hallmark said. “I’d be surprised if we don’t throw strikes. Again, I might be surprised. But we got some pitchers back from last year. Some of them (are) proven strike throwers … We played all fall and for the last five weeks, and we’ve been throwing strikes — at least, the guys that you’re going to see initially.”

Pitching rotations

According to the Tarleton State athletics website, here are the starters (with the Texans listed first) matched against the Roadrunners, whose starter were announced Thursday by UTSA coach Pat Hallmark.

Friday: RHP Will Stevens vs. RHP Luke Malone
Saturday: LHP Dylan Delvecchio vs. LHP Robbie Maldonado
Sunday: RHP Hunter Day vs. RHP Ulises Quiroga


This year’s Roadrunners have a tough act to follow. Last year, they dazzled UTSA fans with one of the better seasons in school history. They went 38-20 and reached the championship game of the Conference USA tournament. Though they failed to make the NCAA tournament, they won 11 games against ranked teams and finished a program-best 37th in the RPI.