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The UTSA Baseball team got off to a great start this past week with a dismantling of the Texas State Bobcats. They didn’t look back, following that performance up with a weekend sweep over the Islanders from Corpus Christi. If you listened to the C-USA early season review on Patreon, we discussed how important the Texas State win was for several reasons.
Each game against TAMUCC featured its unique flair. The football score game on Saturday of 31-6 was followed by a come-from-behind 9-6 win on Sunday. The Roadrunners are playing great baseball at a crucial point in the season, with conference play starting this week, and they will be on a six-game winning streak going into Tuesday. We will talk more about that on this week’s podcast with another UTSA Baseball alumnus, but know that UTSA will be put to the test immediately with the formidable FAU Owls, projected in multiple outlets to finish above UTSA. Let’s get into this week’s recap.
WHAT I FELT GOOD ABOUT…
Power, power, and power…
Early last season, the UTSA Baseball team had 18 home runs at this point. In 2023, going into the series against Utah, that number was one. That has since changed and continues to be on an upward trajectory. Including the four home runs against the Bobcats and the eight against the Islanders this weekend, the Roadrunners have now matched last season’s number of 18 at this point. It should be another productive offensive season if they can continue this power with the doubles and triples they have been racking up.
Not only has UTSA got off to a better W/L record for the 2023 campaign, but they also have more games where they have scored double-digit runs. In eight games, they have scored ten or more runs. That is impressive and helpful for a few different reasons. They had three of those games before the home runs started piling up. Additionally, with the great start from the pitching staff so far, there is an added level of comfort with the run support. The run production continued this week. UTSA scored double digits in three of the four games. Across the four games, they outscored their opponents 61-20.
WHAT I DIDN’T FEEL GOOD ABOUT…
Defensive struggles continue – Coach Hallmark mentioned in his dugout interview during the Texas State game that one of the things he wanted to see was an improved defense. Those woes have continued. UTSA committed two errors on Tuesday night and five this weekend. Those errors accounted for eight runs across the games. There is an aspect of subjectivity when it comes to ruling a play sequence as an error or hit. Of course, sometimes, it is cut and dry. How difficult or natural the play was, would the runner have been safe regardless, etc. At any rate, I would like to see the defense work out these kinks moving into conference play.
Walks – When I looked back, this number wasn’t as high as I initially thought. In four games, UTSA walked ten batters and hit three batters. They did have five walks on Sunday, however. A few times this weekend, I felt like the home plate umpire had some inconsistencies, to say it nicely, with the strike zone. At least twice, a missed call directly benefited the Islanders on either that same bat or the next batter. Moving into conference play, I want to see this number decrease.
Isaiah Walker – I don’t mean to be a broken record with this statement, but when you put up 11 runs against a team, it’s tough to decide who gets the game balls. Isaiah Walker had quite the Tuesday night though. In 2023 he has played at least LF, RF, 3B, and 2B, filling in the utility role nicely. He went an impressive 3 for 5 on Tuesday. Walker also was a double shy of hitting for the cycle. His three RBIs and one run were also met with two stolen bases.
Simon Miller – Miller entered Tuesday’s game during the fourth inning with the game tied at one, and the outcome was still very much a toss-up. Not only did Miller leave a Bobcat stranded at second in the fourth, but he would also give up zero runs on two hits and no walks, striking out seven in 3.1 innings of relief. Wedged between the performance were five straight strikeouts across the 5th and 6th inning. Miller was also credited with the win on Tuesday and is 4-0 this year. Miller also earned the save on Sunday afternoon. He struck out the side in the eighth, added one more in the ninth, and only gave up two hits on zero runs.
Sammy Diaz – Sammy Diaz had a great weekend behind the plate and up to bat. He was three for four in challenging stolen base attempts on Sunday, throwing two out at second and one at third. While he didn’t register a hit on Sunday, he reached base twice on a BB and HBP before Josh Killeen replaced him as a pinch runner. On Saturday, Diaz contributed to the highly lopsided win, going 2 for 4 with two walks and a three-run home run.
Taylor Smith and Leyton Barry – I included these two together because they were recognized as honorable mention players of the day for Saturday. Smith went 3 for 4 with 2 walks, 3 RBIs, and 2 home runs. Barry tied the UTSA single-game hit record with five and was two RBIs shy of tying alumnus Trent Lockwood’s single-game record. Barry also had a home run on Saturday and has an 11-game hitting streak.
Daniel Shafer – UTSA had a 10-4 lead going into the ninth inning on Friday night that quickly went to a four-run lead with the bases loaded. Shafer entered to relieve Fischer Kingsbery, who was working his third inning of relief in the ninth. With one pitch, the entire game on Friday could have changed. Shafer remained poised, however, and closed out the series opener with a Roadrunner win.
Ruger Riojas – Riojas had a modest two innings of relief on Sunday, where he helped quiet the Islanders’ bats. He struck out one on one walk, one hit, and zero runs. While he did not pitch again after UTSA retook the lead, he was credited with his first win of the season, being the active pitcher. Riojas also pitched an inning of relief on Tuesday, where he struck out all three batters after walking the lead-off batter.
@ Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (WAC) Tuesday, March 14th, 6:30 (ESPN+)
Baseball fans who have to watch this game from home have the privilege of getting to do so on the ESPN+ feed. This will be UTSA’s third game on ESPN+, and I have been quite pleased so far. There was a touch of homerism for the Baylor game, but the Texas State commentators were relatively objective and very knowledgeable. I will be in attendance for this one at Jaycees Field. From the pictures, it seemed like their facilities were similar to Roadrunner field. I say that because when UTSA moves to the AAC next year, they will get plenty of games on ESPN+. I’m curious to see how many camera angles SFA has and how the stream is for the viewers at home.
History vs. UTSA
UTSA leads the all-time series 19-11. The two teams last faced off against each other on April 6th, 2022, where UTSA won 14-4 (7 innings). UTSA also has a five-game winning streak dating back to 2012. Of note, UTSA does trail in the series when playing at SFA 5-7.
15-37 (8-22) with no significant wins against anyone. They did win one game against Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Sam Houston.
They are off to a 6-10 record and 0-3 in conference play after getting swept by Abilene Christian. They beat Houston Christian 21-14 and won their series vs. Oral Roberts. SFA shares a conference with ACU, Grand Canyon, Sam Houston, Tarleton, and UTRGV, among others.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Peyton Parker (3B) – Parker has a slash line of .406/.447/.580, giving him a 1.027 OPS. He leads the team in doubles with six. Parker also has two home runs and 13 RBIs on the season.
Alex Rodgers (CF) – Rogers leads the team in RBIs with 16, complemented by a slash line of .323/.400/.662 and an OPS of 1.062. He leads the lumberjacks in home runs with six.
Skyler Jaco (P) – Has made six appearances this season and has logged 15 innings. He has 18 strikeouts with six walks. He has, though, hit four batters so far. Jaco seems to be more of a middle to late reliever.
It seems like SFA’s other quality starters are their weekend guys. It will be interesting to see whom they decide to roll out on Tuesday against UTSA and if it will be more of a bullpen game on their end.
UTSA continues to get complete team wins this season with several different competitors. They will enter Tuesday looking to stretch their winning streak to seven games. If you live in the San Antonio area and are free this Friday night, I encourage you to make it out to the Bird Bath. The guys are currently playing exciting baseball and will need the extra hooping and hollering this weekend. It’s an exciting time to be a Roadrunner.
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