C-USA showdown: Dallas Baptist hits three home runs to down UTSA, 11-7

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Opponents have little room for error when they face the explosive Dallas Baptist Patriots.

Two or three mistakes in a nine-inning game, and the Patriots can bury a team in a deep hole in a hurry. That is pretty much what happened to UTSA on Friday afternoon at Roadrunner Field.

Luke Malone. UTSA played Dallas Baptist in the opener of a Conference USA baseball series on Thursday, May 12, 2023, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Luke Malone, pitching in relief, yielded 10 runs on nine hits in 6 and 2/3 innings to take the loss against Dallas Baptist. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Ethan Mann, George Specht and Nathan Humphreys homered as 18th-ranked Dallas Baptist rolled to an 11-7 victory over No. 22 UTSA, solidifying its hold on first place in Conference USA.

Mann belted a three-run home run in the third inning. In the fifth, George Specht socked a grand slam over the centerfield wall to highlight a five-run outburst. Humphreys belted a two-run shot in the eighth.

The outburst gave Dallas Baptist, one of the best home-run hitting teams in NCAA Division I, 92 homers in 50 games this season.

With stormy weather in the forecast, the teams are scheduled to play the second game of a doubleheader Friday night. A third game would be played, weather permitting, on either Saturday or Sunday.

Dallas Baptist got the jump on UTSA in the series and increased its lead on UTSA to a game and a half despite three hits each from Dalton Porter and Garrett Poston and two RBIs each from Leyton Barry, Antonio Valdez and Josh Killeen.

Killeen hit a two-run homer for the Roadrunners in the bottom of the ninth to account for the final runs of the game The Roadrunners had two runners on base when the Patriots retired Barry and Taylor Smith to end it.


Dallas Baptist 21-4, 38-12
UTSA 19-5, 36-13

Coming up

Dallas Baptist at UTSA, Friday, 6:30 p.m. (second game of a doubleheader)
Dallas Baptist at UTSA, TBA, either Saturday or Sunday, weather permitting

From Cape Cod to San Antonio: Friends traveled to see Luke Malone pitch for UTSA

UTSA pitcher Luke Malone posed for a picture on May 5 at Roadrunner Field with friends from Massachusetts who visited for the weekend. Joe Miller and Karen White (at left) hosted Malone in their home in Falmouth, Mass., last summer when Malone pitched in the Cape Cod League. Miller and White were joined on their trip to Texas by (on Malone’s right) friends Wes, Kim and Geoff Morneau. – Photo by Jerry Briggs

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

UTSA pitcher Luke Malone made quite the impression on a family that hosted him last year in Falmouth, Mass. When Malone traveled to play summer ball in the prestigious Cape Cod League, he was assigned to stay with Karen White and Joe Miller.

White and her husband were so taken by Malone, they promised him that they would come to visit in San Antonio during his senior year. The reunion happened last weekend when White, Miller and three other friends arrived to cheer on Malone and the Roadrunners against the Rice Owls.

“We’ve been hosting for 15 years,” White said. “He’s one of our favorites.”

In a brief conversation with White on May 5 at Roadrunner Field, I started to see and hear some things that made me realize why Malone has been sort of a one-of-a-kind player on the UTSA roster for the past four seasons, and why the team likely will miss him when he’s gone.

For one thing, it was easy to spot his friends at Roadrunner Field. They were the ones wearing T-shirts saying, ‘From Cape Cod to San Antonio,’ with Malone’s mug shot on the front.

“We’re so lucky to have been a part of (Cape Cod League baseball) for all these years,” White said. “We’ve hosted dozens of boys. We’ve watched some make it to the majors. Others not. But Luke is a special kid.”

This weekend, UTSA hosts the Dallas Baptist Patriots in three games with Conference USA title implications. Because of weather forecasts, two games will be played Friday and the Roadrunners’ home finale on either Saturday or Sunday.

Before the home finale, UTSA will honor 14 UTSA seniors, including the likes of Malone, Leyton Barry, Antonio Valdez and Taylor Smith.

Malone, a righthander from Round Rock, came to UTSA as a transfer from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in 2020 and played as a walk-on before working his way into the starting rotation over the past two seasons.

At UTSA, he’ll be known as one of the lynchpins of a team that won 38 games a year ago and 36 (so far) this season. White said in an interview on May 5 at Roadrunner Field that Malone was different from some of the athletes she has hosted over the years.

“He was just very family oriented,” she said. “He was open to (experiences away from the field). We like to show them around. We took him to Fenway Park. Did a Red Sox game. He loved it. He was open to whatever we wanted to do.

“That isn’t always the case with the college boys. Sometimes they just want to hang with each other. He loved hanging with us. So we loved that.”

Players in the Cape Cod League have a rigorous schedule just in terms of what they are required to do for their respective teams.

“They put in long hours, at least six days a week,” White said. “What we liked about Luke, was, they run special clinics for young kids. Luke would go and work the camps in the morning early, about 6 or 7 a.m., have lunch and go back to the field. So his work ethic was wonderful.”

White said on most days she and her husband didn’t really see him much.

“We’d have breakfast in the morning and then he’d scoot off to the field and help teach the kids,” she said. “Come back home. Eat quick. And then he’d be gone (to team activities) from 2 to 10 every night. It’s a rigourous schedule.

“But when we had time off, that’s the difference with his maturity, when they had a day off, he was very open to us. He took advantage of every single activity.”

Malone said in an interview on Thursday that he thoroughly enjoyed his time with the host family last summer.

A trip to see the Red Sox. A drive over to Martha’s Vineyard. A day off to see Plymouth Rock. Just hanging around the family’s home in Falmouth was an experience. Out the back door, he could see the ocean.

The beach was just a short walk away. And the home cooking? How about lobster enchiladas? Lobster ravioli?

“I have so much respect for them, hosting players,” Malone said. “Sometimes (players) leave and you have another one come in. That’s what happened with us. They had a pitcher there, and after about a week, he left and I stayed the rest of the summer.

“I love that family. It’s basically like a second family. They had a grandbaby, so I was, like, their last player for awhile, because they’re going to be busy.”

Coming up

Dallas Baptist at UTSA in a three-game series with Conference USA title implications. First two are scheduled for Friday, with the first pitch at 3 p.m. at Roadrunner Field. Second game to follow 45 minutes after completion of the first. Third game to be played either Saturday or Sunday, weather permitting.


Dallas Baptist 37-12, 20-4
UTSA 36-12, 19-4

Senior appreciation

UTSA will recognize 14 seniors and 15 graduates through the weekend. Senior Day ceremony is scheduled approximately 30 minutes prior to the third game of the series. The seniors include:

Antonio Valdez
Josh Killeen
Leyton Barry
Robbie Maldonado
Garrett Poston
Josh Salinas
Shane Sirdashney
Drake Smith
Nick Crespo
Taylor Smith
John Chomko
Luke Malone
Daniel Shafer
Sammy Diaz

Roadrunners power past Owls 11-6 to complete a series sweep

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

If you’re looking for the most important storyline for UTSA in its sweep of the Rice Owls this weekend at Roadrunner Field, it would have to center on championship-caliber resilience and inner toughness. In winning three straight, the team had to come from behind each day.

On Friday, the Roadrunners erased deficits of four and three runs.

Saturday, on a day prolonged by a two-hour weather delay, they were down five runs twice early and came back to win again. Finally, in the finale on Sunday, they took a big early lead themselves, lost it momentarily, and then rumbled to score six runs in the sixth en route to an 11-6 victory.

Senior Leyton Barry capped the big inning with his eighth homer of the season and the first grand slam of his career.

As a result, the Roadrunners registered their fifth series sweep of the season, claimed their 36th victory — three shy of the school record — and seized significant momentum leading into next weekend’s Conference USA showdown against the Dallas Baptist Patriots.

“It feels great,” Barry said. “Any time you can get a sweep, it feels fantastic. Especially this weekend, because we came back in all three games. Especially the first two, when we were down by multiple runs. So to come back and win all those games, it feels even better than the other sweeps, just because we had to fight for these wins.”

As the weekend progressed, it was evident that power hitting would be a major factor. The Owls hit seven home runs, but the Roadrunners matched them with seven of their own. In the finale, Ben Royo and Guy Garibay Jr. powered balls out of the yard for Rice. UTSA answered with long balls by Antonio Valdez, Caleb Hill and Barry.

With UTSA trailing 6-5 going into its half of the sixth, Cristian Cienfuegos entered to pitch for Rice and Hill, one of the hottest hitters on the team, greeted him immediately with a solo homer. Matt King followed with a single and moved up 90 feet on a ground ball.

With Sammy Diaz at the plate, a key sequence unfolded. Diaz singled into right field, and when the throw came into the infield, it got away for an error. King scored easily to make it 7-6, while Diaz reached second base. The miscue seemed to rattle Cienfuegos, who promptly hit the next two batters with pitches to put three men on the bags.

At that point, Rice coaches lifted Cienfuegos, replacing him with Matt Linskey. But on the tall righthander’s first offering, Barry met it solidly and pulled it over the right field wall. In other words, four runs on one swing. As soon as he rounded the bases and met his teammates, he jumped up for the leaping arm-bump and took a seat. He was then greeted with a question.

“In the dugout, someone mentioned, ‘Hey, have you hit a grand slam before?’ Barry recalled. “I said, ‘You know, now that I think about it, I haven’t.’ So, that was pretty great.”

UTSA pitching had its ups and downs all weekend. Sunday was no different. Fischer Kingsbery started and worked two innings. He struck out three but yielded a long homer to Royo, his second of the series, which cleared the wall in center field. Uli Quiroga had a rough go of it, giving up five runs in the fourth inning, including a three-run homer by Guy Garibay, Jr.

Fortunately for the Roadrunners, Ruger Riojas (5-0) was on his game. Entering in the fifth inning, he pitched all the way into the eighth. In 3 and 1/3 scoreless innings, he gave up five hits. Two came in the eighth, which prompted UTSA to replace him with Ryan Beaird, who got out of the inning on a deep fly ball by Aaron Smigelski. Beaird finished with 1 and 1/3 innings of shutout ball, yielding only one hit.

For Beaird, it was his second strong outing of the weekend. He pitched one shutout inning Friday night and earned the victory. Though his season has been marked with some inconsistency, the Roadrunners are happy to see him throwing well going into the last two weeks of the regular season.

“It feels good,” said Beaird, a sophomore from Reagan High School. “It’s nice to know that I have eight other guys playing for me, willing to put themselves on the line to play for me. Every single one of those guys out there, they’re playing hard. It’s nice to have that when you’re on the mound.”


Rice 17-30, 7-17
UTSA 36-12, 19-4

Series glance

Friday: UTSA beats Rice, 9-7…UTSA trailed 4-0 and 7-4 and then rallied.
Saturday: UTSA beats Rice, 10-8…Trailed 5-0 and 6-1 and, after a weather delay, rallied again.
Sunday: UTSA beats Rice, 11-6…Trailed 6-5 and scored six runs in the sixth.

Coming up

Dallas Baptist at UTSA, a three-game series starting Friday at 6 p.m.

C-USA standings

Dallas Baptist 20-4, 36-12
UTSA 19-4, 36-12
Charlotte 13-10, 24-23
Louisiana Tech 13-11, 24-25
FAU 12-12, 28-20
Western Kentucky 12-12, 27-21
Middle Tennessee 12-12, 23-23
Rice 7-17, 17-30
UAB 6-18, 15-31
FIU 5-19, 18-29


UTSA center fielder Shane Sirdashney, a .361 hitter and a standout defensively, is battling a leg injury that has kept him out for most of the last three weeks. Coach Pat Hallmark is hopeful but is uncertain if he’ll have him against Dallas Baptist.

Sirdashney played a few innings in the loss to Sam Houston State last week but wasn’t on the team’s 27-man roster this weekend against Rice. For the season, Sirdashney has 53 hits and has scored 41 runs, so his loss is significant.

“He’s continuing to get treated and has seen a couple of different doctors,” Hallmark said. “It’s a hamstring injury, and hamstrings are tricky. We’re doing well without him. But he’s such a good player, it’d be silly to say we’re fine without him.”

Hallmark said his team has been dealing with a series of injuries to key players over the last three weeks.

“The injuries are worrisome,” he said. “We’ve had ’em for three weeks. Shane and Isaiah (Walker) got the leg issues and (Tye) Odom’s got the back. (Antonio) Valdez is playing hurt. So, in the back of my mind, it’s worrisome, because those are really good players. But we’ve got guys stepping up … I’m proud of the whole team. Guys are doing everything they can to win.”

UTSA comes from behind again to down Rice, 10-8

Caleb Hill celebrates with Antonio Valdez (3) after they both scored in the seventh inning. 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

Caleb Hill had three hits, including a home run, to ignite the UTSA Roadrunners Saturday in a 10-8 victory over the Rice Owls. The junior from Grandview has produced six hits in two victories over the Owls this weekend.- File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special to The JB Replay

The UTSA Roadrunners moved to within a half game of the lead in Conference USA on Saturday, rallying from a couple of five-run deficits in a weather-delayed home game to down the Rice Owls, 10-8.

After a two-hour delay, the Roadrunners returned to the field trailing 5-0 in the top of the second inning. They were also down 6-1 to the Owls before mounting their second comeback of the series.

Caleb Hill, a 6-foot-1 junior from Grandview, ignited uprisings in both the fourth and sixth innings.

He had a two-run single as the Roadrunners scored four in the fourth. Hill hit a solo homer as UTSA added three more in the sixth. After picking up a run in the seventh, the home team led, 9-6, and appeared to be cruising to an easy victory.

But with UTSA relief ace Simon Miller in the game in the eighth, the Owls struck back. He yielded a one-out double and then a two-out, two-run home run by Drew Holderbach, as Rice pulled to within one. The Owls had runners at first and third before the Roadrunners finally got out of it, leading 9-8.

In a rapid response, UTSA slugger Antonio Valdez stroked a triple to lead off the bottom of the eighth. Later, Leyton Barry brought him home with a sacrifice fly, giving the Roadrunners a two-run cushion.

Rice made things interesting again in the top of the ninth against Miller. A two-out single by Manny Garza, the Owls’ second hit of the inning, put runners at first and second base with Pierce Gallo coming up.

Miller didn’t give in, catching Gallo with a called third strike on a breaking pitch to clinch UTSA’s 35th win of the season and their 11th weekend series victory. UTSA won the opener on Friday night, 9-7, after trailing 4-0 in the second inning.

On Saturday afternoon in Dallas, the Roadrunners received a gift. The Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders rolled to a 16-8 road victory against the C-USA’s first-place Dallas Baptist Patriots. After UTSA completed its victory over Rice, the Patriots led the C-USA at 19-4, with the Roadrunners at 18-4.

Both Dallas Baptist and UTSA close out their respective series at home on Sunday afternoon. Next week, the Patriots will play three games against the Roadrunners in San Antonio in a series with conference title implications.

From May 18-20, Dallas Baptist will close its regular-season schedule with three home games against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, while UTSA will finish its schedule with three on the road against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.


Rice 17-29, 7-16
UTSA 35-12, 18-4

Coming up

Series finale, Rice at UTSA, Sunday, 1 p.m.

C-USA leaders

Dallas Baptist 19-4, 35-12
UTSA 18-4, 35-12
Louisiana Tech 13-10, 24-24
Charlotte 12-10, 23-23
FAU 12-11, 28-19
Middle Tennessee 12-11, 23-22
Western Kentucky 11-12, 26-21
Rice 7-16, 17-29
FIU 5-18, 18-29
UAB 5-18, 14-31


Caleb Hill is having a monster series against Rice with two three-hit games. He was three for five on Friday and three for four on Saturday. On Friday, he had a double and a triple. On Saturday, Hill added a home run. Going back a few weeks, he is on an eight-game hitting streak. During the streak, he is 16 for 31 for a .516 average.

UTSA’s single-season record of 39 victories is within reach. With eight games remaining, seven of them in conference — all before the conference tournament — the Roadrunners need four wins to tie and five to break the record. UTSA won 39 in both 1994 and 2008.

UTSA averts a second straight loss and rallies to beat Rice

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The UTSA Roadrunners felt the sting of their worst loss of the season for two long days before they even showed up to the ball park Friday afternoon to play the Rice Owls.

They aren’t into excuses, and so there weren’t any for what happened Tuesday night against the Sam Houston State Bearkats.

Likewise, they viewed with level heads what was happening in the early innings against Rice at Roadrunner Field. They were getting beat — but only for only for awhile.

Taylor Smith (27) is congratulated at the plate by Antonio Valdez after Smith's home run in the seventh inning. 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

Taylor Smith (27) is congratulated at the plate by Antonio Valdez after Smith’s seventh-inning home run. UTSA scored four runs in the seventh to rally past Rice 9-7 in Conference USA baseball. – Photo by Joe Alexander

In the end, the 22nd-ranked Roadrunners pulled it all together, rallied from an early four-run deficit and emerged with a 9-7 victory in the first game of a key three-game series in the Conference USA stretch drive.

“Obviously we got killed on Tuesday,” UTSA catcher Josh Killeen said of the 18-2 loss to the Bearkats. “It wasn’t a good feeling. But the big theme we hold onto as a team is, we believe in each other. We believe each player out there can do the job.

“I think that’s what we went back to. Just believing that the guy at the plate is a really good hitter and the guy on the mound is a really good pitcher, and we got good guys behind the pitchers who can defend. So, it’s just believing in each other and having faith that we are who we are.

“It’s just like, going back to early games during the season where we were really hot and jelling together. It’s just getting back to that kind of baseball and believing in each other.”

For UTSA, Ryan Beaird (4-1) pitched one scoreless inning to earn the victory. He fanned two, including the third out of the seventh with runners stranded at first and third base. All-American candidate Simon Miller, not to be outdone, fired two electrifying innings of shutout ball to earn his 10th save of the season. Retiring six straight, he didn’t allow a baserunner and struck out two. Rice’s Cristian Cienfuegos (2-1) took the loss.

UTSA reliever Ryan Beaird pitched a scoreless seventh inning. 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

Reliever Ryan Beaird pitched a scoreless seventh inning and struck out two to earn the victory, which kept the Roadrunners a game and a half behind the first-place Dallas Baptist Patriots in the C-USA title race. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Offensively, multiple Roadrunners did their jobs when it counted. Both Taylor Smith and Antonio Valdez homered, and both Valdez and Caleb Hill had three hits apiece. Matt King produced two hits and three RBIs. For Rice, Jack Riedel had a three-hit game and freshman Ben Royo clubbed a three-run homer.

With the victory, UTSA stayed within a game and a half of the scorching-hot Dallas Baptist Patriots for the lead in the C-USA. In Dallas, the Patriots clobbered the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, 16-5, for their 15th straight conference victory. DBU improved to 19-3, with UTSA, not quite as hot, sitting at 17-4.

Both will finish a series at home this weekend — Rice at UTSA and Middle Tennessee at Dallas Baptist — before the two will meet for three games next week (May 12-14) in San Antonio. After playing a final non-conference game on May 16 at Abilene Christian, UTSA closes out the C-USA regular season with a series on the road (May 18-20) at Louisiana Tech.

UTSA (34-12) needs five wins to tie and six to break the school’s single-season mark for victories in a season.

UTSA reliever Simon Miller and catcher Josh Killeen celebrate after the final out. 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 reliever Simon Miller and catcher Josh Killeen celebrate after the final out. Miller pitched two scoreless innings for his 10th save, lowering his earned run average to 1.06. – Photo by Joe Alexander


Rice 17-28, 7-15
UTSA 34-12, 17-4

Coming up

Rice at UTSA, Saturday, 2 p.m.
Rice at UTSA, Sunday, 1 p.m.

C-USA standings

Dallas Baptist 19-3, 35-11
UTSA 17-4, 34-12
Charlotte 12-9, 23-22
Louisiana Tech 12-10, 23-24
Middle Tennessee 11-11, 22-22
FAU 11-11, 27-19
WKU 10-12, 25-21
Rice 7-15, 17-28
FIU 5-17, 18-27
UAB 5-17, 14-30

Digging out of a hole — twice

Twice on an extremely muggy Friday night in South Texas, UTSA seemed destined for defeat. The Rice Owls jumped all over UTSA starter Luke Malone for three runs in the first inning and then another in the second for a 4-0 lead. In response, the Roadrunners battled back with two in their own half of the second and two more in the third for a 4-4 tie.

Leading into the fifth inning, Malone seemed to have settled down. UTSA’s preseason all-conference pitcher had strung two scoreless innings together. His command was sound and his breaking pitch was hooking into the zone. Just as suddenly, Malone got into trouble in the fifth, allowing two baserunners before Owls freshman Ben Royo stepped to the plate. Royo hammered a ball over the left field wall to give the Owls a 7-4 advantage.

Caleb Hill scores in the seventh inning on a hit by Matt King. 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

Caleb Hill scores in the seventh inning on a hit by Matt King. UTSA scored four runs in the seventh inning. Hill collected three hits, scored twice and had an RBI. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“There’s nothing to fault Luke for,” UTSA coach Pat Hallmark said. “You know, these other teams, the way we describe it, they practice hitting and they can hit. Luke’s always been a competitive overachiever. So, you’ve got to give the other team a little credit. I’m proud of (Luke) for sticking it out, really … He’s such a competitive kid. It’s wonderful to have him.”

It’s also a good thing to have veteran hitters who can turn it up a notch when adversity strikes. With Rice starter Parker Smith out of the game, the Roadrunners went to work against the Owls’ bullpen. In the seventh inning, they broke through with four runs on five hits. The big blows were a leadoff homer by Taylor Smith and a two-run single by Matt King against Justin Long.

In came Cristian Cienfuegos, who unraveled in short order, allowing Roadrunners to reach base twice on hit by pitches, sandwiched around a single by Josh Killeen. It all set the bases-loaded table for Isaiah Walker, who drew a walk on six pitches to force in the go-ahead run. UTSA’s 8-7 lead was its first of the day.

“We got some good hitters, some grown-up hitters,” Hallmark said. “We had some really, really tough at bats, where they take pitches that normally would get people out. But we take ’em and lay off tough pitches. That gets overlooked if you’re not a baseball person. You have to lay off the tough pitches and put yourself in a position to do damage.”

Antonio Valdez did just that in the eighth inning. The switch hitter, batting from the left side against Rice righthander Matthew Linskey, took the first pitch for a ball. fouled one off. Took another ball. Fouled off another pitch. Then on a fastball down the middle, he uncorked a big swing that resulted in a loud ringing sound, with the ball re-directed high and far toward the left field wall. It went out for a majestic, one-out solo homer and a 9-7 lead.

Conference title-race crunch time: UTSA hosts Rice tonight

Simon Miller. UTSA beat Marshall 5-4 on Sunday, May 8, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

The UTSA Roadrunners are 33-12 for the season and 19-2 in games that relief ace Simon Miller pitches. Consequently, Miller is likely to be on the mound some time tonight in the opener of a three-game, Conference USA series against the Rice Owls. — File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Three days after suffering their most lopsided loss of the season, the 22nd-ranked UTSA Roadrunners will return to Conference USA play tonight as they host the Rice Owls in the opener of a three-game series. First pitch is at 6 p.m. at Roadrunner Field.

UTSA yielded 18 hits, including five home runs, in an 18-2 loss at home Tuesday night to the Sam Houston Houston State Bearkats.

With 10 games left in the regular season, a series of bounce-back performances against Rice this weekend might be considered crucial to the team’s long-term goals of a C-USA title and an NCAA tournament bid.

All C-USA teams have nine conference games remaining over the next three weekends, with the conference tournament looming May 24-28 in Houston. The front-runners in the chase are the Dallas Baptist Patriots (18-3), the Roadrunners (16-4) and the Charlotte 49ers (12-8).

This weekend, Dallas Baptist, UTSA and Charlotte are all playing at home. The Patriots face a test from the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, while the Roadrunners take on the Owls in a series for the second time this season, and the 49ers meet FAU.

Earlier this season, the Roadrunners won two of three in a closely-contested series against Rice at Houston.

Parker Smith, the Owls’ Friday night starter, plus relief pitchers Matthew Linskey and Krishna Raj, all had productive outings in the series played at Reckling Park.

UTSA won the opener, 4-3 in 11 innings. Rice bounced back to claim a 13-8 decision in the second game and then UTSA rebounded to take the finale, 6-5.

Offensively for Rice, Guy Garibay homered in each of the first two games. Drew Holderbach, Manny Garza and Ben Royo all had multi-hit performances in Game Two. In the third game, the Owls bashed three more home runs, including one each by Aaron Smigelski, Royo and Connor Walsh.

The difference in the series for UTSA stemmed from solid performances in the opener by pitchers Luke Malone and Simon Miller, who combined to shut down the Owls for 10 and 1/3 innings. Also, in the series finale, UTSA’s bullpen work from Ruger Riojas, Fischer Kingsbery and Daniel Shafer was crucial.

In addition, Antonio Valdez produced three hits and three RBIs over the weekend and pounded home runs in both victories. Also in the three games, Josh Killeen had six hits and Sammy Valdez three, with three runs scored. Diaz homered and had two RBIs in the finale.

The Roadrunners haven’t played as well lately as they have for most of the season. They’re 6-4 in their last 10 games, and they had to scramble to secure wins over Houston Christian and UAB in that stretch.

Roadrunners having success at the plate lately include Caleb Hill (.454 over his last six games), Taylor Smith (.413 in his last eight) and Leyton Barry (.395 in his last 12). On the mound, Miller has been dynamic. The 6-foot-2 junior righthander from Canton hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last four appearances. Also in that span, he has struck out eight batters in seven innings.

Miller is a potential All-America candidate with a season record of 7-0, 10 saves and a 1.10 ERA. Moreover, the Roadrunners are 19-2 when he pitches. UTSA is also 9-3 when Malone pitches in a game. Lately, though, the senior righty from Round Rock has struggled a bit, allowing nine earned runs in 12 and 2/3 innings over his last two starts. Malone, the team’s Friday night starter, is 6-3 with a 3.13 ERA for the season.


UTSA 33-12, 16-4
Rice 17-27, 7-14

Coming up

Rice at UTSA, Friday, 6 p.m.
Rice at UTSA, Saturday, 2 p.m.
Rice at UTSA, Sunday, 1 p.m.


UTSA took a significant tumble in the NCAA’s ratings percentage index this week. Before the lopsided loss to Sam Houston, the team’s RPI was at No. 47. It fell in the days afterward, and by Friday morning, it was at No. 57.

An RPI in the 30s going into NCAA tournament selection day is considered crucial for programs vying for at-large berths into the 64-team national field. After losing in the C-USA finals last season, UTSA was 37th going into selection day and didn’t receive a bid.

Given the history, RPI is a statistic to watch in the coming weeks. Going into Friday night, Dallas Baptist has the top RPI in the conference at No. 19, and UTSA is second. FAU is next at 67, followed by Charlotte (74), Louisiana Tech (127) and Rice (145) Bringing up the rear, Middle Tennessee is 170, followed by Western Kentucky (174), UAB (179) and FIU (208).

UTSA plays three games at home next week against C-USA leading Dallas Baptist (May 12-14). After a non-conference game at Abilene Christian the following week (on May 16), UTSA finishes its conference schedule with three on the road at Louisiana Tech. The LA Tech series (May 18-20) is scheduled to start on a Thursday and run through Saturday.

Sam Houston State hits five home runs and routs UTSA, 18-2

Sam Houston State starting pitcher Marshall Wales. Sam Houston State beat UTSA 18-2 in non-conference baseball on Tuesday, May 2, 2023, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Sam Houston State starting pitcher Marshall Wales worked six innings and allowed two runs, one of them earned, to earn the victory on the home field of the 22nd-ranked UTSA Roadrunners.- Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The Sam Houston State Bearkats entered Tuesday night’s game in San Antonio with victories this season over Iowa, Kansas State, Illinois, Houston and Texas A&M.

The Bearkats added to their list of non-conference conquests, slamming five home runs in an 18-2 victory over 22nd-ranked UTSA at Roadrunner Field.

Isaiah Walker. Sam Houston State beat UTSA 18-2 in non-conference baseball on Tuesday, May 2, 2023, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA right fielder Isaiah Walker camps out under a fly ball Tuesday night at Roadrunner Field. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Backing a strong starting pitching effort from lefthander Marshall Wales, the Bearkats finished with 18 hits.

Justin Wishkoski ripped two of the home runs, while Clayton Chadwick, Carlos Contreras and Easton Loyd added one apiece.

Chadwick barreled a three-run homer to the opposite field in left to highlight a four-run first inning for the visiting team. In the top of the third, Contreras pulled one to right for a two-run blast during a five-run outburst.

When the dust cleared, the Bearkats had a 9-2 lead.

“You know, we got off to a good start, and I think that’s the whole key,” Sam Houston State coach Jay Sirianni said. “These guys (at UTSA) are really good. They’ve had a great year. (But) when you score early, it gives you a little bit of confidence, and you can add on to it.

“I thought Marshall Wales did a good job for us in hanging the first zero and then gave up the two in the second, but after that, he was pretty good. (He) continued to throw strikes, and that’s the whole key on a Tuesday night.”

Matt King. Sam Houston State beat UTSA 18-2 in non-conference baseball on Tuesday, May 2, 2023, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA shortstop Matt King makes a play and fires to first base . – Photo by Joe Alexander

Wales (2-4) gave up seven hits and two runs, only one of them earned, in six innings of work. He struck out two, did not walk anyone and lowered his earned run average to 5.29.

“It’s a great opportunity to go on the road and show who we are as a team,” Wales said. “Obviously, getting toward the later part of the season, you know, it’s all hands on deck. (It’s) who can step up and throw and who can complete the job.

“We knew they were a good squad. We knew we had to play good, and we did. It’s a test on the road. You know, long drive, get off the bus and go out and compete. It was really a good vibe before the game with the guys.

“Really loose, I think we were playing really loose as a team. Really, just playing as a team.”


Sam Houston State 28-18
UTSA 33-12

Coming up

Rice at UTSA, three Conference USA games, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.


Sam Houston State set a UTSA opponent season high with 18 runs. Sam Houston also tied a UTSA opponent season high with 18 hits. The Bearkats’ 16-run margin of victory was also the most against the Roadrunners this year. Previously, UTSA’s widest margin of defeat was six runs in an 8-2 loss to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on March 28.

Magic number in sight: UTSA needs seven more wins to reach 40 for the season

Leyton Barry and the UTSA Roadrunners have won 33 games through the end of April. A school-record, 40-win season seems entirely possible. — File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The UTSA Roadrunners have talked openly recently about a few of their goals for the baseball season.

Namely, that they want to win a Conference USA title. That they also want to secure an NCAA tournament bid, and that they would like to make some noise when they get there, as well.

But after winning two out of three games against the UAB Blazers last weekend, another compelling possibility is also looming.

Could the Roadrunners actually reach the 40-victory plateau in a season for the first time?

Well, it certainly seems possible now. They notched victory No. 33 on Sunday with a 9-4 win over the UAB Blazers in Birmingham.

On a windy day, Leyton Barry’s two-run double highlighted a four-run fifth inning as the 25th-ranked Roadrunners beat the Blazers for the second day in a row.

With the win and a 2-1 series victory in the books, the Roadrunners (33-11) can now turn their attention to Tuesday night when they host the Sam Houston State Bearkats in non conference, and then Friday night when they host the Rice Owls in the opener of a three-game C-USA series.

Altogether, the Roadrunners have 11 games remaining in the regular season, and that’s all before they will take the field for the conference tournament, which is set for May 24-28 at Houston.

All of which means, the school record of 39 wins in a season established in both 1994 and 2008 is now in serious jeopardy, and a 40-win season is well within reach.

In addition, it’s worth mentioning that the Roadrunners already have established a certain level of excellence that will serve them well in coming years.

Last year, they challenged for the C-USA regular-season crown, won 38 games and reached the title game in the conference tournament. This year, they’ve backed it up with another strong season.

By winning two of three at Birmingham, the Roadrunners have now claimed winning records in 10 of 11 weekend series this season, with the only outlier being a rain-shortened weekend that ended in a 1-1 split of two games at Charlotte.

Their weekend in Birmingham started with a bummer.

On Friday, Blazers pitcher Brooks Walton went the nine-inning distance and scattered four hits in a 4-2 victory over the Roadrunners. On Saturday, a team scuffling near the bottom of the C-USA standings had the upper hand again for most of the day before the Roadrunners exploded for four runs in the ninth inning to win, 6-5.

On Sunday, UTSA had a much easier time of it, with UTSA generating four runs in the fifth to open up a 7-3 lead. Even though the Blazers got one run back and threatened seriously to close the gap even more, relief pitching ace Simon Miller silenced a rally in the seventh and went on to record a three-inning scoreless save.

Just about the time that Miller started to shut down the Blazers, the Rice Owls took a 3-1 lead on the first-place Dallas Baptist Patriots. It appeared that the Roadrunners, if they could hold on, could make up some ground in the regular-season title race on one of the hottest teams in the nation.

Well, the Roadrunners closed the deal. But the Patriots didn’t cooperate. They rumbled to life in the ninth inning and roared past the Owls, 4-3. In completing the three-game series sweep, the Patriots improved to 34-10 and 18-3 in the conference, a game and a half ahead of 16-4 UTSA.

How will the race go down the stretch?

Frankly, the Patriots might be tough to catch, the way they’re playing. They’ve won 14 conference games in a row, and in the coming weeks, they’ll play three-game series against Middle Tennessee State, UTSA and Western Kentucky.

The Patriots will get Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky at home, sandwiched around a trip to San Antonio May 12-14 for a date with UTSA at Roadrunner Field.

By comparison, UTSA will host Rice in a three-game stretch later this week and then Dallas Baptist the following week, before it finishes on the road at Louisiana Tech, always a difficult place to play.

Single games in non conference remain for UTSA starting Tuesday, when they host Sam Houston State, and on May 16, in a road test at Abilene Christian. After Abilene, the Roadrunners go to LA Tech, for a C-USA series scheduled May 18-20.

So, 40 wins is definitely possible. But, is it possible even before UTSA gets to Houston for the conference tournament?

It is, if you consider that the Roadrunners seem entirely capable of going 7-4 down the stretch. But what about the team’s chances on Memorial Day weekend at Houston? What about reaching the NCAA tournament?

Right now, it’s just too hard to project anything definitive about either one of those situations. In another three weeks, at the end of the regular season, the dust will clear and UTSA’s big picture forecast should be much easier for everyone to see.

For the time being, it’s probably best to just sit back and enjoy the ride.


UTSA 33-11, 16-4
UAB 14-29, 5-16

Coming up

Sam Houston State at UTSA, Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Rice at UTSA, three game series starting Friday.

UAB series glance

Friday: UAB beat UTSA, 4-2.
Saturday: UTSA beat UAB, 6-5.
Sunday: UTSA beat UAB, 9-4.

C-USA leaders

Dallas Baptist 18-3, 34-10
UTSA 16-4, 33-11
Charlotte 12-8, 22-21
Louisiana Tech 11-10, 22-23
Middle Tennessee 11-10, 22-21


Roadrunners coach Pat Hallmark was ejected after the top of the third inning Sunday, apparently for objecting to calls on balls and strikes. It was his second ejection of the season.

UTSA starting pitcher Ulises Quiroga (7-2) worked 5 and 2/3 innings and earned the victory. He gave up four runs on six hits, while walking five and striking out five. Simon Miller picked up his team-leading 10th save. Miller didn’t allow a run or a hit in three innings and lowered his earned run average to 1.10.

Lefty Carson Myers (1-5) took the loss after yielding seven runs in 4 and 1/3 innings to start the game for the Blazers.

UTSA outfielder Shane Sirdashney returned to play in his first game since April 16. Sirdashney entered as a defensive substitute in center field in the bottom of the seventh and then had two at bats. He bunted for a sacrifice on his first plate appearance and then hit an RBI single in the ninth.

Isaiah Walker, another UTSA outfielder who has missed time with an injury lately, started the game, played both right and center field and went 0 for 2 at the plate. He was also hit by a pitch.

UTSA rallies with four runs in the ninth to stun UAB, 6-5

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

UTSA slugger Antonio Valdez drilled a three-run homer to highlight a four-run uprising in the top of the ninth inning, and then relief ace Simon Miller closed the door in the bottom half Saturday afternoon as the 25th-ranked Roadrunners downed the UAB Blazers, 6-5, in Birmingham.

With the victory, UTSA evened the three-game Conference USA series at one victory apiece. The finale is set for Sunday at noon.

UTSA’s Leyton Barry led off the game with a solo homer. It was his second homer in two days in Birmingham. Later in the inning, Josh Killeen ripped a run-scoring single, lifting the Roadrunners into an early 2-0 lead.

In response, UAB rallied for three runs in the bottom of the second, before adding single runs in the fourth and the fifth innings for a 5-2 lead. Darryl Buggs led the Blazers with four hits, including a home run and a double.

Trailing by three runs going into the top of the ninth, UTSA called on pinch-hitter Clark Henry, who drew a leadoff walk from Tyler O’Clair.

At that point, UAB elected to take out O’Clair, who had been effective in four plus innings of work.

Blazers reliever John Luke Martin promptly walked Barry, putting runners at first and second, and UTSA’s Taylor Smith followed with a single up the middle, which loaded the bases.

Caleb Hill brought in the first run with a sacrifice fly to deep left, trimming the UAB lead to 5-3. Then, with two runners still aboard, Valdez hit a 2-1 pitch off of Martin for a three-run blast, giving UTSA a one-run cushion. It was the ninth homer of the season for Valdez.

Given a one-run lead, UTSA coaches brought in Miller, one of the top relief pitchers in the nation.

Miller retired the first batter of the inning, Tyler Waugh, on a ground ball. From there, however, things got interesting as Christian Hall doubled into the gap in right center.

Brayton Brown, who had two doubles on the day, grounded to shortstop for the second out and moved Hall over to third base.

Henry Hunter, the potential winning run, stepped to the plate and flied out to center to end it. For Miller, it was his ninth save of the season.

For UTSA, it was the team’s second victory of the week after trailing going into the ninth inning. On Tuesday, playing at home, the Roadrunners rallied with three runs in the bottom of the ninth to beat Houston Christian, 9-8, in non-conference play.


UTSA 32-11, 15-4
UAB 14-28, 5-15

Coming up

UTSA at UAB, Sunday at noon
Sam Houston State at UTSA, Tuesday at 6 p.m.

C-USA leaders

Dallas Baptist 17-3, 33-10
UTSA 15-4, 32-11
Charlotte 12-7, 22-20
Middle Tennessee 11-9, 22-20
Louisiana Tech 10-10, 21-23


The 19th-ranked Dallas Baptist Patriots have won the first two games of a series against the Rice Owls, pushing their lead over the Roadrunners to one and a half games. The Patriots (17-3 in conference, 33-10 overall) won 8-6 in 12 innings and 10-3 at Rice’s Reckling Park in Houston.

Playing in Birmingham, the Roadrunners (15-4, 32-11) were defeated by the UAB Blazers 4-2 on Friday night and then bounced back to beat the Blazers 6-5 on Saturday. Meanwhile, the third-place Charlotte 49ers (12-7, 22-20) have lost twice at Western Kentucky and fourth-place Middle Tennessee (11-9, 22-20) has split a pair at home with the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.

UAB Blazers shut down UTSA 4-2 in opener of three-game series

Backing the strong pitching of Brooks Walton, Logan Braunschweig delivered a two-run single in a four-run fourth inning Friday night as the UAB Blazers downed the 25th-ranked UTSA Roadrunners 4-2 in Conference USA baseball.

Walton went the nine-inning distance, yielding only four hits. Two were solo home runs by Leyton Barry and Caleb Hill. The 6-foot-5 righthander struck out three and walked three.


UTSA 31-11, 14-4
UAB 14-27, 5-14

C-USA leaders

Dallas Baptist 15-3
UTSA 14-4
Charlotte 12-6

Coming up

UTSA at UAB, Saturday and Sunday, at noon each day.


The Rice Owls were leading the first-place Dallas Baptist Patriots 5-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning at Houston when officials announced a weather delay and later said the game would be suspended for the night and completed on Saturday. The re-start is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at Reckling Park, with the second game of the series to follow. Meanwhile, Western Kentucky defeated third-place Charlotte, 8-4.