Baseball: UTSA rolls past Tulane 6-3 in series opener at New Orleans

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The UTSA Roadrunners on Thursday kept playing winning baseball in the early days of the American Athletic Conference race, cruising to a 6-3 road victory over the Tulane Green Wave.

In the first game of a three-game series at New Orleans, UTSA took charge behind the pitching of Rob Orloski and Ruger Riojas and the hitting of Mason Lytle, Matt King and Tye Odom.

Orloski allowed only one run on five hits in the first 4 and 1/3 innings, followed by the final 4 and 2/3 from Riojas.

Riojas gave up two runs on three hits, including a two-run homer in the ninth by Colin Tuft, to end the game. He struck out seven and walked none and picked up the win, improving his record to 5-0.

Tulane lefthander Luc Fladda (0-1) took the loss despite pitching fairly well. He yielded only three runs on six hits. Fladda had the Roadrunners swinging and missing, striking out eight.

Lytle, UTSA’s leadoff man, extended his hitting streak to 12 games. He went three for five for his ninth straight multi-hit game.

King, batting second, had four hits in five at bats, including two doubles and an RBI. Odom delivered with a solo homer in the fourth inning.

The Roadrunners entered the series on an upswing, having won two of three at home last week against the nationally-ranked East Carolina Pirates. The Roadrunners also won a non-conference road game Tuesday night, beating the Baylor Bears, 9-7, in Waco.


UTSA 14-12, 3-1
Tulane 15-11, 2-2

Coming up

UTSA at Tulane, Friday, 6:30 p.m.; UTSA at Tulane, Saturday, noon.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi holds on to beat UTSA, 4-2

Six-foot-five righthander Matthew Watson pitched the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders to a 4-2 victory over the UTSA Roadrunners Friday night.

Watson (1-1) worked six innings and picked up the win in the first of a three-game series at Chapman Field in Corpus Christi.

The native of Rogers, Ark., limited the explosive Roadrunners to two runs on six hits, while walking one and striking out eight. The Roadrunners had been on fire coming into the series, scoring 58 runs in a five-game stretch.

Leading by the eventual final score in the ninth, the Islanders held off the Roadrunners to win. UTSA had runners at the corners when Evans Hendricks, a lefty reliever, struck out Broc Parmer to end the game.

Parmer came to the plate with two hits, including a solo homer, but Hendricks fanned him swinging to end the threat.

UTSA freshman Rob Orloski pitched well through five innings in his fourth outing of the season, but he found trouble in the sixth and was touched for three runs to take the loss.

Orloski (1-2) pitched five and 2/3 innings, yielding four runs on eight hits. He struck out three and walked three.

Coming up

The series continues Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and concludes on Sunday at 1 p.m.


UTSA 7-7
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 8-8


Two former San Antonio area ball players figured prominently in the victory for the Islanders. Catcher Chance Reisdorph (New Braunfels Canyon) threw out Caleb Hill trying to steal second base in the first inning to help keep the Roadrunners off the scoreboard. Reisdorph attacked with his bat in the fourth with a leadoff double against Orloski. He eventually scored the first run of the game. In the sixth inning, A&M-Corpus Christi’s Cole Modgling (Medina Valley) came off the bench with a pinch-hit single off Ruger Riojas that scored two runs.

Friday-night expectations? UTSA’s Orloski embraces the challenge

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

Nineteen-year-old freshman Rob Orloski is expected to get the ball to pitch tonight for the UTSA Roadrunners. UTSA opens a three-game series at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at Chapman Field. – File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Hit hard in his first two starts as a collegian, UTSA freshman pitcher Rob Orloski showed signs last week that he can handle the Friday-night expectations.

Whether he starts or enters in long relief tonight at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, the 19-year-old righthander hopes to build on last Friday’s performance, when he carried the load in a 12-0 victory at home over Grand Canyon University.

Fischer Kingsbery, Orloski and Cooper Hrbacek combined to limit the explosive Lopes to four hits in the first shutout by Roadrunners pitching since 2022.

Orloski, the player of the year in Idaho in 2022, worked six innings from the third through the eighth, allowing only three hits.

Facing a good offensive ball club, the 6-foot-4 righthander struck out seven and walked two and allowed a baserunner to reach third only once.

Afterward, his teammates gave him the game ball in the locker room.

“That was awesome,” Orloski said. “I mean, I got to thank God and the coaches for giving me the opportunity to keep pitching on Friday. To give me the opportunity to go out and prove myself. It’s a surreal moment.

“It’s something that you dream of, just, getting the opportunity to pitch on Friday as a freshman and getting the win and helping the team win.”

Securing his first victory in the combined shutout was meaningful for him.

“Fish started off the game great (with) two clean innings,” Orloski said. “Then, me going in there and having some help from the defense. And then Cooper being able to shut it out, it was a great game for the team.”

Orloski’s transition from high school to college has been bumpy at times.

Named to start in UTSA’s season opener, he yielded six runs and was tagged with the loss in a 10-9 setback to UT-Arlington. In his second start, the Roadrunners beat the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks 7-6 at the Sugar Land Classic, but Orloski once again gave up six runs on six hits.

Combined, Arlington and SFA unloaded on him for five home runs.

At the same time, UTSA coaches weren’t really sweating it because while his pitch location needed improvement, his raw talent was obvious. Through three starts, Orloski has shown that he likes to challenge hitters, utilizing a fastball that seems to have late explosion.

He has struck out 20 in 15 innings of work.

UTSA coach Pat Hallmark’s assessment of Orloski in the days leading into the season opener seem to be holding up. “Eventually,” Hallmark said at the time, “Rob’s going to be a very good college pitcher, so we might as well start finding out when right now.”

For Orloski, a baseball journey that started with major league games he would watch on television in his Idaho home has been quite the experience, already.

In many ways, it’s been a quintessential American experience, starting with a dream and then with a question to his father.

“Dad, do you think I could pitch?” he would say, in not so many words.

Robert Orloski, the pitcher’s father, has been supporting his son in his diamond ball field pursuits ever since.

“He’s been my coach from 8- to 12U,” Orloski said Tuesday afternoon, outside the dugout at Roadrunner Field “He even helped (me) in high school. So he’s always been there coaching.

“Just, step by step. Teaching me to just be strong on the mound. Always attack. Just have that mentality on the field.”

Orloski’s demeanor on the mound? A lot of it comes from years of conversations with his father at the kitchen table, in the car, or on the lake fishing for bass.

“He’s just been able to teach me the basics,” Orloski said. “I’ve had good coaches all the way (up), teaching me more of the advanced stuff. But he’s really been the one to teach me my mentality on the field.”

In 2022, Orloski reached a pivotal moment in his career. He was named player of the year as a junior at Middlegton High School in his home state and then started fielding inquiries from college coaches.

“I had a few other options up in the Northwest, in the Oregon area (and) the Washington area,” he said. “Main reason I came down here was because of the coach. Coach Hallmark, coach (Zach) Butler and (Ryan) Aguayo. I had family down here. So it was an easy move. An easy decision for me, I think.”

After completing his high school career in 2023, Orloski came to another crossroads. The Boston Red Sox drafted him in the 20th round in July.

“It was a pretty awesome call,” Orloski said. “I mean, I was super ecstatic about it. (It’s) still a surreal moment for me knowing that I got drafted by the Red Sox. I couldn’t be happier to be here right now, but it’s still awesome.”

Orloski acknowledged that he gave serious thought to the idea of going straight from high school baseball into the pros.

“Tough decision,” he said. “It was a tough road. It was stressful at times. But when it all came down to it, after getting drafted and knowing the situation, I knew I wanted to come down here (to UTSA).

“Getting an education … has always been a goal of mine. Getting a diploma and everything. So I think school and coming here has been a great choice for me. I don’t regret a thing.”

For Orloski, making the move from Idaho to Texas came with a twist. He wasn’t the only one in his family making it. His parents — Robert and Angela — have since moved into the area, as well.

They’re living in the Canyon Lake area.

“It’s nice to be able to be with them and go do stuff” Orloski said. “Like, going fishing at Canyon Lake. It’s been fun. Going there with my dad and my uncle. It’s been fun. An easy transition.”

UTSA coaches would agree that it’s been fun to watch Orloski develop as a player, although from another standpoint, the largemouth bass at Canyon Lake may not be completely thrilled with his move into the area with a rod and reel in hand.

“I haven’t gone too much,” Orloski said. “But it’s been fun when I’ve gone. Caught three or four each time.”

Coming up

Three-game series at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s Chapman field, starting tonight at 7. Series continues Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.


UTSA 7-6
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 7-8

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