Spoiling the party: Texas State turns back 22nd-ranked UTSA

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The grandstands were packed, as were the walkways and concourses on a cool and breezy Tuesday night at UTSA’s Roadrunner Field.

UTSA fans, from the outset, were ready to party as their surging baseball team entered the 101st meeting of the 31-year-old, Interstate-35 rivalry ranked 22nd in the nation.

In the end, though, the Texas State Bobcats spoiled it all.

Davis Powell, a Texas State junior from Lufkin, belted a two-run homer in an 11-hit attack for the Bobcats as they came into San Antonio, took the lead early and downed the Roadrunners, 5-3.

“This was good,” Texas State coach Steve Trout said. “Obviously a great environment. Obviously, you’ve got a great team over there with them being ranked and playing really well. Yeah, it was just a really good win for us. We found a way. It wasn’t always pretty … but we continued to play great defense and got it done.”

Starting pitcher Peyton Zabel earned the victory for the Bobcats, who have won five straight. Zabel worked 3 and 2/3 innings and struck out five. In all, five Texas State pitchers struck out 11 and limited the Roadrunners to seven hits. Cameron Bush pitched the final 2 and 1/3 innings and earned the save.

The game took on an air of controversy as a high fly ball hit by UTSA’s Matt King in the bottom of the fourth curved into the left field corner and cleared the fence for what might have been a two-run homer, only to have it called a foul ball. Naturally, the call elicited groans from the UTSA faithful.

By the next inning, UTSA fans were quiet and Texas State fans were roaring. Powell’s 2-run homer off UTSA reliever Daniel Shafer lifted the Bobcats into a 3-0 lead.

“He missed with the first pitch, a slider away,” Powell said. “Then I got a curve (ball) up and (hit) it.”

After Powell’s blast gave the Bobcats the three-run cushion, the Roadrunners never got closer than two the rest of the way. In the bottom of the seventh, tensions boiled over for the home team, as UTSA coach Pat Hallmark was ejected after having words with the home-plate umpire.

It was a strange inning all the way around, Hallmark’s ouster notwithstanding. First, Tye Odom opened the frame by striking out against Nathan Medrano. Up stepped Barry, and early in the count between pitches, the coach said something to home plate ump Javier Cantu.

Pretty soon, tensions escalated, and Cantu stepped out from behind the plate and motioned for the coach to leave the field.

Hallmark, however, didn’t go quietly. He jogged hurriedly from the third-base coaching box to home plate and started getting more vocal. But as the home crowd jeered, the dust-up didn’t last long. Only for a few seconds. Nevertheless, it was an eye-opener to see the coach walk off, his jaw set, and his team still trailing 5-2.

From there, Barry continued to work the count on Medrano and drew a walk. Next up, Taylor Smith looked at the first two pitches out of the strike zone. On the third offering, a pitch hit came in high and tight and hit Smith in the back. As Smith started to take his free base, time out was called, with Medrano having collapsed on the mound.

Without putting weight on one leg, he was helped off and replaced Rhett McCaffety.

On McCaffety’s second pitch, Antonio Valdez drilled it into center field, bringing Barry around to score while putting runners at first and second. With the crowd getting louder, UTSA failed to take advantage of the opportunity. First, Caleb Hill flied to center. Next, Bush entered the game for Texas State and struck out King to end the threat.

In the eighth and ninth, still batting against Bush, the Roadrunners hit the ball hard to the outfield four times for outs and came up with zeroes on the scoreboard both times. Just one of those nights for UTSA, in some respects. The win was significant for Texas State on a number of levels.

First, it allowed the Bobcats to avenge an 11-2 loss to UTSA in San Marcos on March 7 and boosted the Bobcats to 62-39 all time against the Roadrunners in a series that dates back to 1992.

Also, it showed that even with 13 losses on their record, the Bobcats remain as a dangerous opponent for anyone. Additionally, the win also indicated that they still have some of the spark that allowed them to earn an NCAA tournament at-large bid last season.

Texas State’s winning streak started last week in Austin against nationally-ranked Texas.

It stayed intact through last weekend with a three-game sweep in the Sun Belt Conference of the Marshall Thundering Herd. Now that they’ve won against the Roadrunners, a team that had a 21-3 record at home before Tuesday night, it’s fair to ask whether the Bobcats have found a second gear.

“I hope so,” Trout said. “That’s kind of the trend (of where) were going. The key is we’re finding different ways to win. It’s not just with the long ball, or whatever it might be. We’re finding different ways to get it done. Hopefully that continues.”

For the Roadrunners, both Valdez and Josh Killeen had a couple of hits apiece. Both drove in one run each. Centerfielder Shane Sirdashney did not play for the Roadrunners after tweaking a leg injury running the bases on Sunday against Middle Tennessee State.


Texas State 25-13
UTSA 28-9

Coming up

Both teams will hit the road for three-game series in their respective conferences starting Friday. Texas State travels to Alabama to meet the Troy Trojans in the Sun Belt, while UTSA will trek to Miami, Fla., to face the FIU Panthers in Conference USA.


The crowd was announced at 1,059 as UTSA entered the game ranked 22nd in Baseball America and 25th in D1 Baseball. It was the second time this season that the Roadrunners cracked the Top 25 on a Monday and then lost on a Tuesday to a local rival. The initial Top 25 mention in the program’s 31-year history came out on April 3 when Baseball America installed them at No. 24. On April 4, the Roadrunners played on the road at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, built a five-run lead and then lost 9-6 on a walk-off home run in the ninth inning by Rey Mendoza. Later that same week, UTSA traveled to play a C-USA series at Charlotte and split a pair games to complete the week’s work at 1-2.

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