By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay
Sitting in first place in the Conference USA baseball race, the UTSA Roadrunners host the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers tonight at 6. UTSA and WKU also will play Saturday and Sunday afternoon to complete a three-game series. All games will be played on campus at Roadrunner Field.
UTSA (20-6, 5-1 C-USA) has won its first two series in conference play, sweeping the FAU Owls at home on March 17-19 and then winning two of three at Rice University in Houston last weekend. WKU (16-10, 2-4) lost two of three at Middle Tennessee before dropping two of three at home last week against Louisiana Tech.
Winning games at a rate that is slightly off a school-record pace, UTSA has notched 20 victories by the end of March for only the second time in program history. In 1994, UTSA started out 24-9 before April 1, going on to finish the season 39-18. The ’94 team reached the NCAA tournament, playing in a regional at Austin.
After sweeping FAU two weeks ago, UTSA had won 10 straight for an 18-3 record on the season. Since then, the Roadrunners have cooled off a bit, losing 5-3 at UT Rio Grande Valley on March 21, losing in the middle of the three games at Rice, 13-8, and then falling at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 8-2 on Tuesday night.
Baylor transfer Antonio Valdez leads the team with a .412 batting average, eight home runs and 40 RBI. Caleb Hill (.363) ranks second on the team in batting average but hasn’t played since he was hit by a pitch on March 24 in the first game of the series at Rice.
Pitcher Luke Malone (2-2, 1.89 ERA) has been the team’s Friday night starter, followed by Uli Quiroga (4-0, 4.35) on Saturdays. Simon Miller (6-0, 0.64) leads the staff in victories and earned run average. Miller has 41 strikeouts in 28 and 1/3 innings. Daniel Shafer (2.35 ERA) leads the team with five saves.
Western Kentucky 16-10, 2-4
UTSA 20-6, 5-1
Western Kentucky University at UTSA, today, 6 p.m.
WKU at UTSA, Saturday, 2 p.m.
WKU at UTSA, Sunday, 12:30 p.m.