UTSA snubbed by NCAA baseball tournament

UTSA's baseball team upset No. 2-ranked Stanford 6-5 in 10-innings on Leyton Barry's walk-off hit at Roadrunner Field.

The UTSA Roadrunners celebrate after beating Stanford on Feb. 28, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. – Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA won 38 baseball games this season. Eleven of those victories came against ranked teams.

None of those were enough for the Roadrunners to earn an at-large bid in the NCAA baseball tournament. UTSA was left out of the 64-team field when the draw was announced today.

The Roadrunners’ notable games included beating Stanford, the No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, on Feb. 28 at Roadrunner Field. UTSA split two games with nationally ranked Texas State.

UTSA finished the season by winning three of four games in the Conference USA tournament. Two of those wins came against Southern Miss, which is the No. 11 seed in the NCAA tournament.

UTSA hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 2013 and has never received an at-large bid.

The tops seeds are No. 1 Tennessee, No. 2 Stanford, No. 3 Oregon State, No. 4 Virginia Tech, No. 5 Texas A&M, No. 6 Miami, No. 7 Oklahoma State, No. 8 East Carolina.

Texas is a No. 9 national seed and will host a regional in Austin. That foursome includes Texas, CUSA tournament champion Louisiana Tech, Dallas Baptist and Air Force.

Texas A&M will host a regional in College Station. That group includes Texas A&M, TCU, Louisiana and Oral Roberts.

Texas State is heading west. The Bobcats are playing in the Stanford regional. Texas State and Stanford will be joined by UC Santa Barbara and Binghamton.

Baseball America: UTSA projected as last team in the NCAA field

UTSA is projected by Baseball America as “the last team in” the NCAA tournament’s 64-team bracket.

The magazine’s website has UTSA pegged to start play this weekend in the Austin Regional against the Texas State Bobcats.

The NCAA will announce the bracket Monday morning at 11 a.m. If the Roadrunners make it, they would become the first team in school history to receive an at-large bid to the national tournament.

That would include men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball, softball and baseball. UTSA has reached the NCAA baseball tournament only three times, in 1994 and 2005 out of the Southland Conference and in 2013 out of the Western Athletic Conference.

According to the magazine, the “last four in” include UTSA at No. 64, along with Dallas Baptist at 63, Rutgers at 62 and Coastal Carolina at 61.

On the flip side, the magazine lists the “first four out” as No. 65 Liberty, followed by Wofford at 66, Old Dominion at 67 and West Virginia at 68.

The Roadrunners stated their case for qualification at the Conference USA tournament. At the C-USA event, they beat Florida Atlantic in their opener and followed that with back-to-back victories over 14th-ranked Southern Mississippi.

Southern Miss was the tournament host and the C-USA’s regular-season champion.

In downing the Golden Eagles by scores of 7-6 on Friday and 11-2 on Saturday, the Roadrunners vaulted up the national ratings percentage index into the 30s and made a strong case as an at-large candidate for the NCAA field.

On Sunday, they had a chance to earn the C-USA’s automatic bid, but they lost 9-8, falling to the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs on a ninth-inning single.

Conference USA hopes to get four teams in the NCAA field. The RPI standings after Sunday’s games had Southern Miss at No. 18, Louisiana Tech at No. 34, UTSA at 38 and Old Dominion at 41.

Record

UTSA 38-20

UTSA run ends in CUSA title game; NCAA tournament probably up next

UTSA's Ryan Flores, shown in a May 29 home game, homered in the ninth inning of Sunday's game. - file photo

UTSA’s Ryan Flores, shown in a May 29 home game, homered in the ninth inning of Sunday’s game. – file photo

(Editor’s note: Updated with all-tournament team members)

Louisiana Tech edged UTSA 9-8 in a back-and-forth game in the Conference USA baseball tournament title game Sunday in Hattiesburg, Miss.

The Bulldogs ended the Roadrunners’ quest for the tournament title and the NCAA tournament automatic bid that goes with it.

UTSA (38-20) has never received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, but that is expected to change this week. The Roadrunners’ credentials for an at-large bid this season include 11 victories over nationally ranked teams and a strong showing in the CUSA tournament. The NCAA tournament teams will be announced Monday at 11 a.m.

UTSA won its first three games of the CUSA tournament to reach the title game. Lousiana Tech was playing its third game in three days, including a loss to Old Dominion on Saturday.

The Roadrunners came from behind multiple times in the game. UTSA’s Ryan Flores led off the top of the ninth with a home run to tie it 8-8. Louisiana Tech’s Steele Netter singled down the right-field line with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to drive home the winning run.

After Louisiana Tech retook the lead 6-5 in the bottom of the sixth, UTSA went in front 7-6 in the top of the seventh on a two-run homer by Ian Bailey, his team-high 16th blast of the season. Louisiana Tech immediately answered and took the lead 8-7 with two runs in the bottom of the seventh.

That set the stage for the dramatic ninth inning.

Louisiana Tech took an early lead with two runs in the bottom of the first.

UTSA went in front with a four-run fourth inning that saw the Roadrunners go from three runs down to a 4-3 lead in the stretch of three batters. UTSA got the rally going with a leadoff walk by Josh Killeen, a double by Chase Keng and then Bailey was hit-by-pitch. Garrett Poston broke the scoring ice with a two-run, bases-loaded double. Groundball outs by Matt King and Jonathan Tapia brought in a run each to tie the game and then put UTSA in front.

Records:

UTSA 38-20
Louisiana Tech 42-19

Notable:

– Louisiana Tech had nine hits in the title game, to seven for UTSA. No UTSA batter had more than one hit.

– UTSA used seven pitchers. Ulises Quiroga had the longest stretch on the mound. He went 2 2/3 scoreless innings and allowed one hit with two strikeouts and one walk.

– Braylon Owens pitched the eighth and nine innings and took the loss.

– UTSA’s Flores, Keng, Poston and Luke Malone were named to the 2022 CUSA all-tournament team.

WEDNESDAY’S GAMES

Game 1: Old Dominion 18, Middle Tennessee 7 (7 innings)

Game 2: Louisiana Tech 4, Charlotte 0

Game 3: Southern Miss 4, UAB 3

Game 4: UTSA vs. Florida Atlantic, postponed until Thursday, 9 a.m.

THURSDAY’S GAMES

Game 4: UTSA 6, Florida Atlantic 4

Game 5: Charlotte 22, Middle Tennessee 0

Game 6: Louisiana Tech 7, Old Dominion 2

Game 7: Florida Atlantic 11, UAB 1 (7 innings)

Game 8: Southern Miss vs. UTSA, postponed until Friday, 10 a.m.

FRIDAY’S GAMES

Game 8: UTSA 7, Southern Miss 6

Game 9: Old Dominion 13, Charlotte 4

Game 10: Southern Miss 5, Florida Atlantic 0

SATURDAY’S GAMES

Game 11: Old Dominion 9, Louisiana Tech 6, 13 innings

Game 12: UTSA 11, Southern Miss 2 (Southern Miss eliminated)

Game 13: Louisiana Tech 8, Old Dominion 7 (Old Dominion eliminated)

SUNDAY’S GAME

Game 15: Championship – Louisiana Tech 9, UTSA 8

UTSA rolls into CUSA tournament title game; Hallmark said Roadrunners are NCAA worthy

UTSA's Daniel Garza pitching against Marshall on May 6, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Daniel Garza, shown in a May 6 home game, pitched eight innings in relief Saturday as the Roadrunners clinched a spot in the CUSA tournament championship game – file photo.

(Updated with late Louisiana Tech-Old Dominion game)

UTSA is headed for the Conference USA tournament championship game – and probably the NCAA tournament as well.

The Roadrunners stayed unbeaten in the conference tournament with an 11-2 beatdown of top-seeded Southern Miss on Saturday afternoon.

UTSA will play Louisiana Tech in the tournament title game Sunday at 1 p.m. in Hattiesburg, Miss. Louisiana Tech beat Old Dominion 8-7 in Saturday’s late game to advance.

The Roadrunners have 11 victories this season over nationally ranked teams – including two this week against 14th ranked Southern Miss.

UTSA was projected to need two victories in the conference tournament to have a good shot at an NCAA tournament at-large bid. The Roadrunners not only have three wins this week, they are one win away from winning the CUSA tournament and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Roadrunners coach Pat Hallmark was asked in a postgame interview on ESPN+ if UTSA had done enough to earn an NCAA tournament berth. He answered unequivocally.

“Yes, sure. No doubt,” Hallmark said. “Look who we’re beating. That’s an unbelievable team. We come into their place and beat them twice. Look at everybody else we beat. We beat Stanford, TCU. We beat everybody they put in front of us. So yes, no doubt.”

UTSA took an early lead on Garrett Poston’s two-run homer in the second inning. They added two runs in the third and took control with a six-run outburst in the top of the eighth.

For the second time in the tournament, the Roadrunners got a big relief performance from a pitcher who has experience as a starter. Daniel Garza entered the game in the second inning and held Southern Miss scoreless until the seventh.

Garza, a starter or longer-innings pitcher most of the season, went in with a runner on base and no outs in the second. He got Southern Miss to hit into double plays in the second and third innings. He finished the game, allowing two runs in eight innings and throwing 113 pitches.

UTSA outfielder Garrett Poston batting against Stephen F. Austin on Wednesday, April 6, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

Garrett Poston, shown earlier in the season, hit a two-run homer Saturday to give UTSA a 2-0 lead. – file photo

UTSA got the early 2-0 advantage when Poston hit a home run with Josh Killeen on base in the second inning. It was the second blast of the season for the sophomore from League City.

UTSA added on two runs in the top of the third. Jonathan Tapia led off with a walk and Leyton Barry singled to second. An error left runners on second and third with no outs. Shane Sirdashney’s sacrifice fly brought in Tapia to make it 3-0. Killeen’s one out bunt scored Leyton from third to make it 4-0.

Southern Miss scored twice in the bottom of the seventh to cut the lead to 4-2. UTSA answered forcefully. Ian Bailey walked and Poston, King, Tapia, Barry, Sirdashney and Flores strung together hits in the top of the eighth as the Roadrunners scored six runs to pull away.

UTSA, the top hitting team in CUSA for the season, finished the game with 15 hits.

“It’s high,” Hallmark said of the Roadrunners’ confidence at the plate. “But we’re a pretty good hitting team. We led the league in average and some other stuff. Top three in pretty much everything. They’ve been confident all year. They’re good baseball players.”

Records:

UTSA 38-19

Southern Miss 43-16

Notable:

– UTSA had pitchers turn in eight or more innings in relief in two of its three games in the tournament. Luke Malone went nine innings and 107 pitches on Thursday and Garza went eight innings and 113 pitches on Saturday.

“Both of them have guts and they’re pretty good pitchers too,” Hallmark said. “We love their guts.”

– UTSA got production from the bottom of the order. Poston batted eighth and had two hits including his home run. King batted ninth and had two hits and two RBI.

– Flores stayed hot at the plate, going 3-for-4 with an RBI. He batted .684 (13-for-19) in five games against Southern Miss this season:
May 13 – 3-4, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB
May 14 – 2-3, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, HR
May 15 – 3-4, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB, HR
May 27 – 2-4, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, HR
May 28 – 3-4, 1 RBI, 0 R, 1 BB
Total – 13-19, 8 RBI, 5 R, 5 BB, 3 HR

WEDNESDAY’S GAMES

Game 1: Old Dominion 18, Middle Tennessee 7 (7 innings)

Game 2: Louisiana Tech 4, Charlotte 0

Game 3: Southern Miss 4, UAB 3

Game 4: UTSA vs. Florida Atlantic, postponed until Thursday, 9 a.m.

THURSDAY’S GAMES

Game 4: UTSA 6, Florida Atlantic 4

Game 5: Charlotte 22, Middle Tennessee 0

Game 6: Louisiana Tech 7, Old Dominion 2

Game 7: Florida Atlantic 11, UAB 1 (7 innings)

Game 8: Southern Miss vs. UTSA, postponed until Friday, 10 a.m.

FRIDAY’S GAMES

Game 8: UTSA 7, Southern Miss 6

Game 9: Old Dominion 13, Charlotte 4

Game 10: Southern Miss 5, Florida Atlantic 0

SATURDAY’S GAMES

Game 11: Old Dominion 9, Louisiana Tech 6, 13 innings

Game 12: UTSA 11, Southern Miss 2 (Southern Miss eliminated)

Game 13: Louisiana Tech 8, Old Dominion 7 (Old Dominion eliminated)

SUNDAY’S GAME

Game 15: Championship – UTSA vs. Louisiana Tech, 1 p.m.

UTSA and Southern Miss aren’t done yet

Sammy Diaz hit one of UTSA's four home runs. UTSA baseball beat Southern 15-4 on Friday, March 4, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

Sammy Diaz had three hits and two RBI in a regular-season victory over Southern Miss on May 13. – file photo

UTSA and Southern Miss have gone at it four times this year on the baseball field.

They’ll play at least one more before they’re done.

Saturday’s 12:30 p.m. matchup in the Conference USA tournament will be their fifth – and their second day in a row.

A UTSA victory would send the Roadrunners on to the tournament championship game on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Since the Roadrunners won their first two tournament games, UTSA only needs one win Saturday to advance.

Because the Golden Eagles already have a loss in the double-elimination tournament, Southern Miss would need to beat UTSA two games in a row Saturday to advance.

If Southern Miss wins Saturday afternoon, the same teams play again – their sixth meeting of the season – later in the day Saturday.

UTSA beat Southern Miss 7-6 on Friday morning in the second round of the CUSA tournament. Southern Miss earned a rematch with a 5-0 victory over Florida Atlantic on Friday night.

The Roadrunners (37-19) and Golden Eagles (43-15) have split their games so far this season.

All their meetings have been in Hattiesburg, Miss. – home of the Golden Eagles as well as the site of the conference tournament.

UTSA opened the three-game regular-season series in Hattiesburg with an 8-7 victory on May 13. Ryan Flores and Sammy Diaz had three hits each and Diaz and Leyton Barry had two RBI each.

Southern Miss won 8-3 on May 14 and 9-5 on May 5.

SATURDAY’S SCHEDULE

Game 11: Louisiana Tech vs. Old Dominion, 9 a.m. (Old Dominion eliminated with a loss)

Game 12: UTSA vs. Southern Miss, 12:30 p.m. (Southern Miss eliminated with a loss)

Game 13: TBD, if necessary, 4 p.m.

Game 14: TBD, if necessary, 7:30

SUNDAY’S SCHEDULE

Game 15: Championship, 1 p.m.

UTSA knocking on door of NCAA tournament after win over Southern Miss

UTSA's Ryan Flores homered in the ninth inning for the winning run against Southern Miss in the Conference USA tournament on Friday, May 27, 2022. - file photo

UTSA’s Ryan Flores homered in the ninth inning for the winning run against Southern Miss in the Conference USA tournament on Friday, May 27, 2022. – file photo

(Updated with result of Game 9 and 10)

Expectations around UTSA were that the Roadrunners needed two wins in the Conference USA baseball tournament to be in strong position to earn an NCAA tournament at-large bid.

The ultimate outcome from UTSA’s standpoint would be to win the CUSA tournament and the automatic bid that comes with it.

UTSA claimed its second CUSA tournament win Friday morning in Hattiesburg, Miss. The Roadrunners beat top-seeded Southern Miss 7-6 in the winners bracket.

The Roadrunners (37-19) advanced to Saturday’s 12:30 p.m. CUSA tournament quarterfinals with a chance to advance to Sunday’s championship. They will face Southern Miss one more time.

A back-and-forth game came down to a solo home run by UTSA’s Ryan Flores in the top of the ninth. That broke a 6-6 tie. It was his third home run against Southern Miss this season – all on the Golden Eagles’ home field.

“Clearly he likes to hit here,” UTSA coach Pat Hallmark said in a postgame interview on ESPN+. “We played here two weeks ago. He hit the ball well here and they’ve got the best pitching staff in the league and one of the best staffs in the country. Flo just likes hitting here I guess so I hope he stays hot.”

Simon Miller (4-3) pitched the final 2 2/3 innings for UTSA to earn the win. He allowed one run on two hits.

The Roadrunners scored one or two runs in each of the last four innings in a game that stayed close the whole way.

Matt King and Jonathan Tapia hit back-to-back doubles in the top of the eighth – King scoring on Tapia’s hit to put UTSA in front 6-5. Southern Miss scored in the bottom of the inning to even it at 6-6.

“I’m a little flustered,” Hallmark said. “We didn’t play great. We made some mistakes. I think we played really hard.

“They’re (Southern Miss) tough. They’re playing at home. They got the crowd. Then we turned it back around.”

UTSA scored twice in the seventh. The Roadrunners took advantage of a two-run error. That set up a run by Leyton Barry from third on a ground ball and a run by Shane Sirdashney on a Josh Killeen hit.

The Roadrunners got a run in the sixth when Garrett Poston doubled in Chase Keng.

UTSA got on the board first with two runs in the top of the third. King scored from third on a fielder’s choice and Killeen singled in Barry.

RYAN FLORES VS. SOUTHERN MISS

UTSA has played Southern Miss four times in 2022 – all on the Golden Eagles’ home field in Hattiesburg. Flores had hits in all four games including home runs in three of four:

1st game – 3-4, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB
2nd game – 2-3, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, HR
3rd game – 3-4, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB, HR
4th game – 2-4, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, HR
Totals – 10-15, 8 RBI, 5 R, 4 BB, 3 HR

NOTABLE:

UTSA awaits the winner of Friday’s 5 p.m. elimination game. As of now, that could set up yet another meeting with Southern Miss, which faces Florida Atlantic.

UTSA had 12 hits including two each from Tapia, Barry, Flores, Killeen and King. The Roadrunners recorded three doubles.

WEDNESDAY’S GAMES

Game 1: Old Dominion 18, Middle Tennessee 7 (7 innings)

Game 2: Louisiana Tech 4, Charlotte 0

Game 3: Southern Miss 4, UAB 3

Game 4: UTSA vs. Florida Atlantic, postponed until Thursday, 9 a.m.

THURSDAY’S GAMES

Game 4: UTSA 6, Florida Atlantic 4

Game 5: Charlotte 22, Middle Tennessee 0

Game 6: Louisiana Tech 7, Old Dominion 2

Game 7: Florida Atlantic 11, UAB 1 (7 innings)

Game 8: Southern Miss vs. UTSA, postponed until Friday, 10 a.m.

FRIDAY’S GAMES

Game 8: UTSA 7, Southern Miss 6

Game 9: Old Dominion 13, Charlotte 4

Game 10: Southern Miss 5, Florida Atlantic 0

SATURDAY’S SCHEDULE

Game 11: Lousiana Tech vs. Old Dominion, 9 a.m.

Game 12: UTSA vs. Southern Miss, 12:30 p.m.

Game 13: TBD, if necessary, 4 p.m.

Game 14: TBD, if necessary, 7:30

SUNDAY’S SCHEDULE

Game 15: Championship, 1 p.m.

UTSA and Southern Miss meet again in CUSA tournament

UTSA's Daniel Garza, shown pitching earlier this season at Roadrunner Field, went five innings and got the win against Southern Miss on May 13. - file photo

UTSA’s Daniel Garza, shown pitching earlier this season at Roadrunner Field, went five innings and got the win against Southern Miss on May 13. – file photo

When UTSA and Southern Miss square off Friday in the Conference USA baseball tournament, it will be their fourth meeting of the season.

First pitch is scheduled for 10 a.m. and will be televised on ESPN+. Friday’s winner advances to the tournament quarterfinals.

The Golden Eagles took two out of three games in the regular season, May 13-15, in Hattiesburg, Miss.

UTSA scored six times in the sixth inning to beat Southern Miss 8-7 in the series opener on May 13. Daniel Garza started on the mound for the Roadrunners and went five innings to get the win. Luke Malone pitched the final inning to get the save.

The Roadrunners scored only eight runs in the next two games combined. The Golden Eagles won the second game of the series 8-3 and wrapped up the weekend with a 9-5 victory.

Southern Miss’ success in the regular-season series helped carry the Golden Eagles to the No. 1 seed in the tournament. The Roadrunners are seeded No. 5.

UTSA has not announced a probable starting pitcher for Friday. Malone threw nine innings on Thursday, so don’t expect to see him Friday.

Roadrunners pitchers who have seen a lot of action this season include:

– Garza, who has made five starts. The sophomore right-hander from Houston has a 3-1 record and 4.41 ERA in 12 games.

– Jacob Jimenez, who has made eight starts. The senior right-hander from Houston has a 2-1 record and 5.01 ERA in 14 games.

– Ryan Ward, who has made six starts. The sophomore right-hander from Schertz has a 1-0 record and 5.09 ERA in 13 games.

– Ulises Quiroga, who has made five starts. The sophomore right-hander from Baytown has a 2-4 record and 7.13 record in 14 games.

– Ryan Beaird, who has made five starts. The freshman right-hander from San Antonio has a 2-3 record and 7.32 ERA in 21 games.

Top prospects to see innings out of the bullpen include Simon Miller (3-3, 3.78 ERA) and John Chomko (2-0, 3.92). Braylon Owens, who faced two batters on Thursday, could also be available to pitch again in the tournament.

WEDNESDAY’S GAMES

Game 1: Old Dominion 18, Middle Tennessee 7 (7 innings)

Game 2: Louisiana Tech 4, Charlotte 0

Game 3: Southern Miss 4, UAB 3

Game 4: UTSA vs. Florida Atlantic, postponed until Thursday, 9 a.m.

THURSDAY’S GAMES

Game 4: UTSA 6, Florida Atlantic 4

Game 5: Charlotte 22, Middle Tennessee 0

Game 6: Louisiana Tech 7, Old Dominion 2

Game 7: Florida Atlantic 11, UAB 1 (7 innings)

Game 8: Southern Miss vs. UTSA, postponed until Friday, 10 a.m.

FRIDAY’S SCHEDULE

Game 8: UTSA vs. Southern Miss, 10 a.m.

Game 9: Charlotte vs. Old Dominion, 1:30 p.m.

Game 10: UTSA-Southern Miss loser vs. Florida Atlantic, 5 p.m.

SATURDAY’S SCHEDULE

Game 11: Lousiana Tech vs. TBD, 9 a.m.

Game 12: UTSA-Southern Miss winner vs. Game 10 winner, 12:30 p.m.

Game 13: TBD, if necessary, 4 p.m.

Game 14: TBD, if necessary, 7:30

SUNDAY’S SCHEDULE

Game 15: Championship, 1 p.m.

UTSA rides Malone, rallies to win opener in CUSA tournament

Luke Malone pitched nine innings in relief as UTSA beat FAU 6-4. He raised his season record to 7-3. - file photo

Luke Malone pitched nine innings in relief as UTSA beat FAU 6-4. He raised his season record to 7-3. – file photo

(Updated with results of Games 5, 6 and 7 and remaining schedule)

UTSA rallied twice to beat Florida Atlantic 6-4 on Thursday in the Conference USA baseball tournament.

The victory keeps UTSA in the winner’s bracket of the double-elimination tournament. It also potentially strengthens UTSA’s argument for an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament.

UTSA (36-19) plays its next game Friday at 10 a.m. against top-seeded Southern Miss.

First pitch of the Roadrunners’ first-round game was delayed by 13 1/2 hours after Wednesday rain delays in Hattiesburg, Miss. pushed UTSA’s opener from Wednesday night to Thursday morning.

UTSA ace Luke Malone turned in a monster performance, pitching nine innings in relief. He entered the game with FAU runners on first and second with no outs in the bottom of the first. The two inherited runners scored as the Owls took their early lead.

“Luke was fabulous,” UTSA coach Pat Hallmark said in a postgame interview on ESPN+. “We need to do a little better with hitting with a man on third and one out. But we’re always looking for areas to improve. But the kids were gritty. They’ve been gritty all year.”

Malone limited FAU to two runs the rest of the way. He gave up six hits with four strikeouts and one walk and threw 107 pitches.

Florida Atlantic got two men on base in the bottom of the eighth, bringing the potential go-ahead run to the plate. UTSA had two pitchers warming up in the bullen and Hallmark went to the mound to visit Malone. Hallmark stuck with Malone and the veteran right-hander from Round Rock finished the game with three straight scoreless innings.

“I just wanted to see how he felt,” Hallmark said. “He pitched a long time. So that was the first thing was just how he felt.

“He’s not going to tell me he doesn’t feel good. But I know him pretty well. I can look him in the eyes and see if he’s BSing or if he really feels good. And I believed him. He felt good. He looked good. His eyes didn’t look fatigued or anything. His heart rate was slow. We kept him in and fortunately it worked out.”

UTSA went in front for good with two runs in the top of the eighth. Matt King’s sacrifice fly scored Chase Keng to break a 4-4 tie. Jonathan Tapia added a two-out single that scored Ian Bailey from second to stretch the lead to 6-4.

UTSA scored twice in the top of the sixth to take its first lead of the game and go up 4-3. Killeen scored the go-ahead run on an error. Leyton Barry recorded his third hit of game to lead off the inning. He scored on an Bailey hit to tie it 3-3.

Florida Atlantic’s Nolan Schanuel hit a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth to tie it 4-4.

UTSA loaded the bases in the top of the second. The Roadrunners scored with two outs on a ground ball that was mishandled to cut FAU’s lead to 2-1.

UTSA’s Keng hit a solo homer in the top of the fourth to even the game 2-2.

UTSA pitcher Braylon Owens made only his second start of the season and struggled to find the strike zone. He walked the two batters he faced and was replace by Malone.

Notable:

– Barry had hits in his first three times up. He was 4-for-4 on Saturday, so he had hits in seven straight at-bats over two games. He scored two of UTSA’s first four runs today.

– Keng also had three hits, including his ninth home run of the season.

– Bailey had three hits.

– UTSA finished with 13 hits. Florida Atlantic had six.

WEDNESDAY’S GAMES

Game 1: Old Dominion 18, Middle Tennessee 7 (7 innings)

Game 2: Louisiana Tech 4, Charlotte 0

Game 3: Southern Miss 4, UAB 3

Game 4: UTSA vs. Florida Atlantic, postponed until Thursday, 9 a.m.

THURSDAY’S GAMES

Game 4: UTSA 6, Florida Atlantic 4

Game 5: Charlotte 22, Middle Tennessee 0

Game 6: Louisiana Tech 7, Old Dominion 2

Game 7: Florida Atlantic 11, UAB 1 (7 innings)

Game 8: Southern Miss vs. UTSA, postponed until Friday, 10 a.m.

FRIDAY’S SCHEDULE

Game 8: UTSA vs. Southern Miss, 10 a.m.

Game 9: Charlotte vs. Old Dominion, 1:30 p.m.

Game 10: UTSA-Southern Miss loser vs. Florida Atlantic, 5 p.m.

SATURDAY’S SCHEDULE

Game 11: Lousiana Tech vs. TBD, 9 a.m.

Game 12: UTSA-Southern Miss winner vs. Game 10 winner, 12:30 p.m.

Game 13: TBD, if necessary, 4 p.m.

Game 14: TBD, if necessary, 7:30

SUNDAY’S SCHEDULE

Game 15: Championship, 1 p.m.

Update: UTSA’s Conference USA tournament opener pushed back to Thursday

(Updated at 6:39 p.m. Wednesday and 12:10 a.m. Thursday)

The Conference USA baseball tournament in Hattiesburg, Miss. – including UTSA’s first game – has been hit with an extended weather delay.

UTSA plays Florida Atlantic in Game 4. Originally set for tonight (Wednesday), it is now scheduled for 9 a.m. tomorrow (Thursday). That, of course, is based on the weather holding up. The forecast for Thursday calls for an 80 percent chance of rain.

– If UTSA wins Thursday morning, the Roadrunners play Southern Miss at 10 a.m. Friday.

– if UTSA loses Thursday morning, the Roadrunners play UAB at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Things got messy for the tournament on Wednesday afternoon when Game 2 between Louisiana Tech and Charlotte was hit with a five-hour-plus rain delay after the third inning. After it resumed, Louisiana Tech won 4-0.

Southern Miss beat UAB 4-3 in Game 3 in a contest that finished just after midnight.

In Game 1, Old Dominion beat Middle Tennessee 18-7 in seven innings.

WEDNESDAY’S SCHEDULE:

Game 1: Old Dominion 18, Middle Tennessee 7 (7 innings)

Game 2: Louisiana Tech 4, Charlotte 0

Game 3: Southern Miss 4, UAB 3

Game 4: UTSA vs. Florida Atlantic, postponed until Thursday, 9 a.m.

THURSDAY’S SCHEDULE

Game 4: UTSA vs. Florida Atlantic, 9 a.m.

Game 5: Middle Tennessee vs. Charlotte, 12:30 p.m.

Game 6: Old Dominion vs. Louisiana Tech, 4 p.m.

Game 7: UAB vs. UTSA-Florida Atlantic loser, 7:30 p.m.

Game 8: Southern Miss vs. UTSA-Florida Atlantic winner, postponed until Friday, 10 a.m.

Roadrunners’ NCAA dreams are alive leading into Hattiesburg

Ian Bailey's second-inning home run. UTSA beat UAB 12-2 on Saturday, May 21, 2022, at Roadrunner Field in the final game of the Conference USA baseball regular season. - photo by Joe Alexander

Ian Bailey crushes the first of his two home runs Saturday in UTSA’s regular-season ending victory over the UAB Blazers. UTSA (35-19 overall, 19-11 in Conference USA) will move into postseason play next week in Mississippi. The fifth-seeded Roadrunners are scheduled to open the C-USA tournament Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. against the No. 4-seed FAU Owls. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
For The JB Replay

The UTSA Roadrunners completed the regular season in style on Saturday, by pitching well and by hitting four homers in a 12-2 victory over the UAB Blazers.

After polishing off the Blazers in a game called after seven innings on the run rule, UTSA players mingled with fans and friends, taking pictures and soaking up the moment.

Ulises Quiroga. UTSA beat UAB 12-2 on Saturday, May 21, 2022, at Roadrunner Field in the final game of the Conference USA baseball regular season. - photo by Joe Alexander

Ulises Quiroga rocks and fires against the UAB Blazers. Quiroga pitched four innings, allowing only one run on two hits, to earn the victory. – Photo by Joe Alexander

It seemed like a perfect time to rattle off the essential numbers for the Roadrunners — a 35-19 record overall and, more importantly, a 19-11 finish in Conference USA.

“Sounds good to me,” UTSA coach Pat Hallmark said. “Sounds good.”

Beaten soundly on Thursday night by the Blazers, the Roadrunners rebounded to win Friday night and again Saturday to take two of three in the final series of the season and to establish themselves as one of the conference’s upper-echelon teams.

They’ll start play in Hattiesburg next Wednesday, competing in an eight-team, double-elimination event for the C-USA postseason crown. The Roadrunners are seeded fifth and will take on the four seed Florida Atlantic Owls in their opener.

The game is set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Pete Taylor Park.

The C-USA winner next week claims the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. But because of the Roadrunners’ strong play throughout the season — they were 48th in the national ratings percentage index on Sunday morning — they might not necessarily have to win the whole thing in Hattiesburg to make the 64-team national field.

It may only take two or three victories.

Kody Darcy. UTSA beat UAB 12-2 on Saturday, May 21, 2022, at Roadrunner Field in the final game of the Conference USA baseball regular season. - photo by Joe Alexander

Kody Darcy started at shortstop against UAB in the last game of the season at Roadrunner Field. At the plate, he contributed a sacrifice bunt that moved runners up in a two-run sixth and a two-run triple in the six-run seventh. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“We got a little more work to do,” Hallmark said. “We’ve got some games ahead of us at the (C-USA) tournament. (We want to) get over there and win some and try to make an at-large (NCAA bid.) If nothing else, win four over there (for the title) and lock it up.”

UTSA’s dreams of becoming the school’s first NCAA tournament entry in baseball since 2013 were dimmed on Thursday night when UAB erupted for an 18-7 victory. In the loss, the Roadrunners looked sluggish. They gave up a couple of long home runs and made a season-high five errors.

But, as it turned out, they weren’t down for long. By Friday night, they re-discovered their home-field magic, hitting five home runs en route to a 7-2 victory to even the series. UTSA pounded three of the homers in a five-run eighth inning.

On Saturday, not only did they shut down the Blazers for the second game in a row, limiting the visitors to four hits, but they also kept bashing balls out of the park. The Roadrunners hit four more homers, including two of them by senior Ian Bailey.

Leyton Barry. UTSA beat UAB 12-2 on Saturday, May 21, 2022, at Roadrunner Field in the final game of the Conference USA baseball regular season. - photo by Joe Alexander

Leyton Barry went four for four at the plate and stole two bases. Here, he’s safe after doubling and stealing third in the bottom of the second inning. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Hallmark was at a loss to explain the turn-around from a less-than-memorable Game One against the Blazers.

“That’s baseball,” the coach said. “You know, you don’t always play good. It’s a difficult game. And we’ve played mostly good. You’ve seen us enough to know we don’t always play good, but we play good more than we don’t.

“This weekend, you win two out of three against a tough team, a 30-win team, you got to feel pretty good about yourself.”

Records

UAB 31-23, 13-17
UTSA 35-19, 19-11

C-USA leaders

Southern Miss 23-7
Louisiana Tech 20-10
Old Dominion 19-11
Florida Atlantic 19-11
UTSA 19-11
Middle Tennessee 17-13
Charlotte 17-13
UAB 13-17

Coming up

UTSA will play next week in the Conference USA tournament. The site is Hattiesburg, Miss. First games are Wednesday.

Fifth-seeded UTSA plays four seed Florida Atlantic on Wednesday night. If it wins, it would advance to meet the winner between one-seed and regular-season champion Southern Miss and eight seed UAB. That winner’s bracket game would be Thursday night.

The double-elimination event will run for five days through next Sunday. The NCAA tournament field will be unveiled the following Monday, on May 30, with the first games in the regionals set for June 3.

Notable

UTSA has some concerns going into Hattiesburg, with ace reliever Simon Miller nursing a sore back that has kept him out of the lineup for the last five games. Also, a few other pitchers in the bullpen haven’t been available lately because of injuries and aren’t expected to be back. Thus, it may fall on the offense to carry the team.

One of the positive signs is the resurgence of Ian Bailey. Bailey, a graduate student from Stevens High School, went two for two on Saturday with two solo home runs to give him three homers in his last two games and a team-high 15 for the season. In three games against the Blazers, Bailey was locked in. In 10 at bats, he had six hits and four RBIs.

Other notable developments included solid pitching performances from Jacob Jimenez, Braylon Owens and Luke Malone on Friday and from Ryan Ward, Ulises Quiroga and Fischer Kingsbery on Saturday. Quiroga was particularly good, working four innnings, giving up only one run on two hits and striking out six in the series finale.

Quotable

Bailey, who started his collegiate career at Grambling University in Louisiana, was humbled after the home finale by the greetings he received from family and friends in the wake of his last game at Roadrunner Field.

“Honestly, I’m just very thankful for all the support, not just for myself, but for the team in general,” he said. “Without these people, we wouldn’t be where we are today. I’m just super thankful that they came out to support the team.”

And how did he feel about the way the team played this weekend? “We came out slow (on Thursday). But over the course of the weekend … we just turned (on) another gear, especially last night. We just found another gear and hit our stride.”

What happened between Thursday night’s loss and Game Two on Friday night?

“I just think we all knew we weren’t playing to the best of our abilities,” Bailey said. “I just think we collectively wanted to do better. (On Friday) we came out with a lot more energy and a lot more pride, with a lot more confidence, and we got the job done.”

And what of his own performance, finding his power stroke after not hitting a home run in six straight games?

“This past week, I had been in a little rut. With Coach Hallmark and the coaches, we went to the cage and just ironed it out. I came out with a lot more confidence. I was just really trusting in my approach. Good things happened.”

Visuals

Here are a few highlights from UTSA’s 12-2 victory Saturday over the UAB Blazers: