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.

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