UTSA evens series with an emphatic 14-4, run-rule victory over Charlotte

Hector Rodriguez strokes a two-out, two-run double in the third inning, lifting UTSA into a 4-4 tie with the Charlotte 49ers. Rodriguez went four-for-four on the day and produced three RBIs. – Video by Jerry Briggs

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

As Saturday morning dawned at Roadrunner Field, an air of tension filled the dressing area as UTSA players started to arrive for Game 2 of a three-game series against the Charlotte 49ers. They couldn’t shake the feeling that came with a dispiriting five-run loss on Friday night.

“We were not too happy this morning,” UTSA third baseman Hector Rodriguez said.

Motivated to make amends, the Roadrunners rolled behind Rodriguez and pitcher Ruger Riojas to a 14-4, run-rule victory. Rodriguez led the way offensively with four of UTSA’s 16 hits. Meanwhile, Riojas pitched four scoreless innings of relief to earn the victory.

“We knew that we just had to come out and play our game, and I feel like that’s what we did,” Rodriguez said.


Charlotte 14-17, 4-4
UTSA 18-13, 6-2

Coming up

Charlotte at UTSA, an American Athletic Conference series finale, Sunday at 11:30 a.m.
(Game time moved up 30 minutes to accommodate Charlotte’s travel).
Series is tied at one win apiece.


UTSA’s 10-5 setback to Charlotte on Friday night was costly in more ways than one.

Not only did it sting for the Roadrunners to give up eight unanswered runs to the visitors in one stretch of the game, but they also lost standout sophomore outfielder Tye Odom with an ankle injury. It’s uncertain how much time that Odom, a .342 hitter with power, will miss.

“I don’t know yet,” UTSA coach Pat Hallmark said. “They’ve taken two X-rays and there’s no fracture. That’s the only thing I’ve been told in terms of time frame. I’ve been told it’s high ankle sprain. No time frame yet.”

On Friday, the 49ers pitched the Roadrunners effectively. UTSA trailed 8-2 at one point and again at 10-4. An offense that leads the American just didn’t look very potent against 49ers lefthanders Cole Reynolds and AJ Wilson.

By Saturday afternoon, the Roadrunners shook off the poor performance and hammered away, with all but one position player picking up at least one hit. From the third through the sixth innings, they scored two, three, three and three runs, respectively.

Rodriguez went four for four and produced three RBIs, none bigger than the two he plated in the third inning with a double to the wall in center.

Mason Lytle extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a three-for-three showing, which included a first-inning solo homer. Both Matt King and Caleb Hill contributed two hits apiece, and King scored three runs.

“I thought we persisted very well with the bat,” Hallmark said. “The whole game, we persisted, which means that we didn’t have many lulls. You know, baseball’s a long game. It can be boring at times, and guys can just get in lulls and give at bats away, or slip up here and there, and I just thought we kept persisting. It paid off.”

The Roadrunners were scuffling a bit in the early going, giving up solo home runs to Johnny Sutryk in the second inning and to Juan Correa in the third. Correa’s 10th homer of the season lifted the 49ers into a 4-2 lead against UTSA starter Zach Royse.

In the bottom of the third, hard-throwing 49ers reliever Ryan Degges was one out away from blanking the Roadrunners when Rodriguez blasted a ball to the wall, scoring Alex Olivo from third and Broc Parmer from second.

“Hector’s been playing good ball,” Hallmark said. “He got a big hit in the Saturday game at Tulane (last weekend). It was tight. I think we were up by two and he got a big two-out double to give us a four-run lead, and it kind of broke their spirit a little bit. So, Hector’s been playing some good ball.”

Riojas, once again, showed dominant stuff in keeping the 49ers off the scoreboard for four innings. He allowed only two hits and gave up just two walks. He struck out four, including three in one eye-opening sequence.

With the Roadrunners protecting a 7-4 lead, Riojas (6-0) worked his magic in the top of the fifth. A walk and a single put runners at first and third with nobody out. In response, the sophomore righthander from Wimberley promptly struck out Correa, Reid Haire and Carson Bayne to shut down the visitors.

“He’s good,” Hallmark said. “He’s got talent. But he’s also got that competitive mindset that we like around here. We use the phrase, Junkyard Dog … He likes competition … He likes competing against other people that are good. You know, that phrase, iron sharpens iron.

“That’s what you need. On teams, you need a lot of those people. Matt King is like that. We got several people like that.”

A burgeoning streak

UTSA newcomer Mason Lytle has hit safely in 17 straight games, including multi-hit efforts in his last 14.

UTSA’s Hector Rodriguez completes a four-hit afternoon and secures a 14-4, run-rule victory over the Charlotte 49ers on Saturday afternoon at Roadrunner Field. – Video by Jerry Briggs

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