What cold weather? UTSA stays hot with its third straight victory

For the third time in two days, UTSA played a game in weather better suited for outdoor hockey than baseball. Only this time, a light rain greeted the team when it showed up Saturday morning for a noon start against the Seattle Redhawks.

“We had some bad weather this morning,” Roadrunners catcher Josh Killeen said. “Light drizzle. Really cold. To get loose, it takes awhile. We got here early to run around and get our legs moving, to get our arms moving so we could feel good for the game.”

With his motor running, Killeen stepped up to the plate in his first at bat and drilled a long home run into the screen in left field.

“Felt great,” said Killeen, a sophomore from Reagan. “I knew, right off the bat (that it was a homer). It was first pitch. I was ready for a fastball, and he came in with it. I just did what I did.”

After UTSA scored twice in the first inning and once in the second off Killeen’s first home run of the season, the pitching took over, with Ulises Quiroga, Simon Miller, Grant Miller and Ryan Ward combining on a four-hit shutout in an 11-0 victory.

UTSA blew it open with six runs in the seventh inning en route to a 5-1 start to the season and a 3-0 start to the first homestand. The Roadrunners will finish the four-game home series against Seattle Sunday at noon, before nationally-ranked Stanford comes in Monday for a 1 p.m. game.

“Feels good to start off right,” Killeen said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who’ve stepped up, even guys off the bench. So, we’re excited. Just trying to keep this momentum going into tomorrow. And then it’s a big week ahead, with Stanford. So we’re excited and ready to get after it.”

After winning 7-3 and 3-2 on Friday, the Roadrunners left the park feeling a little bit uneasy about their performance.

“I didn’t think we played very good yesterday and we won two,” UTSA coach Pat Hallmark said. “That’s what the message to the team was. We were fortunate, lucky a little bit, maybe. Also, the message was, how good can we be if we play good. Right? You win two and you don’t play good, it’s kind of a good sign.

“But we were better today. We pitched well. We hit well, and we ran the bases well. We did not run the bases well yesterday. Anyway, we were better.”

Last year, pitching haunted the Roadrunners in a 22-26 season. Their ERA was 5.92. Teams scored almost eight runs per game against them. They lost so many leads late in games, it felt like collapses were almost inevitable.

Now they’re three games into their first homestand, and they’ve given up only five runs in 25 innings against the Redhawks. For the season, they’ve really only had one clunker of a pitching outing in a 12-1 loss at Tarleton last week.

On Saturday, the Roadrunners walked too many batters. They walked 12, which will not be good enough when they face the best hitting teams later in the season. But for the second day in a row, UTSA pitchers were good enough to buckle down and throw good stuff with men on base.

“It was good to see Simon Miller pitch as well as he did,” Hallmark said. “We need him, because he’s got the stuff to beat good teams. You know, the Southern Miss of the world. He’s got the stuff to do it. He just needs experience and (to throw) the strikes.”

Miller pitched the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to earn the victory. He seemed to get stronger as he threw more and more pitches. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound sophomore from Canton didn’t allow a hit and struck out five, though he did walk four.

“He got the breaking ball going,” Hallmark said. “He’s got a good breaking ball. He found the strike zone with it. He can be tough when he does that.”

After being limited to eight hits in Friday night’s second game, the Roadrunners rebounded with 10 hits, including four for extra bases. Leyton Barry, Chase Keng and Killeen had two hits apiece. Led by Barry, who is hitting .409 on the season, the Roadrunners have six players batting better than .300.

After going 2 for 5, Killeen boosted his average to .278. He said he is feeling good after hurting his thumb and playing as the No. 2 catcher behind Nick Thornquist last year. Killeen broke a thumb in his wrist area in the preseason and just wasn’t right physically.

He emerged fromm it all as one of the team’s best hitters in the fall. “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” Killeen said. “I knew I had put in all the work. Now it’s just God’s gift to me, blessing me. (Just) hoping it continues.”

Coming up

Sunday — Seattle at UTSA, noon
Monday — Stanford at UTSA, 1 p.m.

Roadrunners win two on a chilly opening day at home

Luke Malone. The UTSA baseball team playing Seattle in Game 2 on opening day Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

Luke Malone pitched into the eighth inning Friday night as the UTSA Roadrunners downed the Seattle Redhawks 3-2 to sweep a doubleheader. UTSA won the opener, 7-3. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The UTSA Roadrunners talked in days leading into the new season about their hopes for an improved pitching staff. They feel pretty good about the results after the first five games.

UTSA improved its record to 4-1 after downing the Seattle Redhawks 7-3 and 3-2 Friday in 40-degree weather at Roadrunner Field.

Coming up

Saturday — Seattle at UTSA, noon
Sunday — Seattle at UTSA, noon
Monday — Stanford at UTSA, 1 p.m.

First day at home

On the first day at home for the Roadrunners this season, the pitching wasn’t perfect. But it seemed to hold together in the tough moments.

Leyton Barry. The UTSA baseball team playing Seattle in Game 2 on opening day Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA second baseman Leyton Barry plays the field on a cold day at Roadrunner Field. – Photo by Joe Alexander

In the first game, the Roadrunners fell behind 3-0, only to have relievers Ryan Beaird and Reece Easterling shut out the Redhawks on no hits in the final 4 and 1/3 innings.

In Game 2, Luke Malone started and worked into the eighth inning with a 3-0 lead. After Seattle scored twice in the eighth, reliever Allen Smith struck out two batters to end the threat.

When the Redhawks rallied again in the ninth, Daniel Shafer entered to get the last two outs to preserve the victory. The Redhawks had the tying run at third base, but Shafer induced a ground ball by Connor O’Brien to end the game.

Malone might have been the story of the day. He was strong. He worked 7 and 1/3 innings and yielded only one run on three hits, striking out seven and walking just one.

Last week, UTSA opened its season on the road against the Tarleton State Texans and won two out of three largely on the strength of their offense. They won 21-5 and 12-8 and then lost in the finale, 12-1.

Ian Bailey. The UTSA baseball team playing Seattle in Game 2 on opening day Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

Ian Bailey, a senior from Stevens, leads the Roadrunners with a .450 batting average through five games. He has nine hits. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Through five games combined against Tarleton and Seattle, two programs affiliated with the Western Athletic Conference, UTSA’s pitching staff ERA is 5.40, down slightly from last year’s 5.92.

In addition, UTSA pitching is holding opponents to a .259 batting average. Last year, teams hit .277 against the Roadrunners.