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The Roadrunners’ series finale against MTSU on Sunday had a similar feel to their Tuesday game against Texas A&M. Simon Miller was on the mound, UTSA had the lead, and there was a feeling of nerves that brushed alongside the Roadrunner faithful. I will get to one more similarity between the two shortly, but the good news is in both games, UTSA came away with the victory. The win on Sunday was number 28 on the season and the 12th conference win of the season. The Roadrunners are a very impressive 12-2 through the first half of conference play. A quick note; Jared and I discussed the game against A&M and Texas State on the podcast this week. I recognize that some might listen but not read and vice versa, so some takeaways might be repeated.
WHAT I FELT GOOD ABOUT
Patience at the plate: There were several times the Roadrunner offense exhibited great patience at the plate. It started Tuesday at Texas A&M, where they forced the Aggie starter to throw thirty-something pitches despite not getting a run across. It continued Saturday afternoon against the Blue Raiders. Several times UTSA drew walks on deep counts. This rattled the MTSU pitcher and can also wear on your defense. Those long at-bats led to errors likely caused by mental fatigue on the defense. UTSA also made the Sunday starter attack them at the plate, and they put up a crucial four runs in the first inning.
Pitching dialing it in: It may seem strange to insinuate that the pitching staff that leads C-USA coming into this weekend wasn’t dialed in. However, there was some area for improvement following the loss to UIW and giving up twelve runs in the game two loss against Charlotte. The pitching staff turned things around this week. The Roadrunners just missed their first shutout of the season in the win against Texas A&M. They still held the Aggies to one run on just five hits. Just how good is the A&M offense? They combined for 61 runs in the three games before and three games after playing UTSA. Outside of giving up some runs late in two games this weekend, the pitching staff looked like what fans have seen most of this season.
Matching innings and stringing runs: I mentioned this throughout the weekend on Twitter, but there were two big takeaways from the UTSA offense against the Blue Raiders. They matched the runs put up by MTSU (almost) every time, and they had several half-innings where they scored in consecutive innings. There were six innings that Middle put up runs where UTSA had a chance to respond. Four times, they more than matched that number and increased their lead. This is a great tool, as your pitcher has already been picked up again for the given runs.
Defensive Web Gems: There were great plays by the defense all weekend, from Caleb Hill’s double-saving leap to crucial infield putouts and vital blocks behind the plate. The Roadrunners looked sharp, being charged with only two errors across the four games. They did not have more than one error in any game, and the first game and last game of the slate had a zero in the E column.
WHAT I DIDN’T FEEL GOOD ABOUT…
Giving up runs late: Thanks to healthy leads, the late runs surrendered were nothing more than a closer final score and some angst. Tuesday against A&M, Simon Miller walked a batter, gave up a single, and a wild pitch put two in scoring position with the heart of the lineup due up and no outs. Miller settled in and closed it out, but the one run and situation made things in College Station slightly tense. A similar situation closed out the week on Sunday afternoon. The MTSU bats came alive in the eighth inning, and they plated two to cut the Roadrunner lead to three. Miller then entered in the ninth and gave up two runs that created a runner on 3B and two outs situation. He settled in, forced the ground ball, and earned save number seven on the season. An interesting stat for Miller is that his win column matches his save column on the season.
Scoreless after the third: It proved to be enough, and it was multiple run innings in three of the four; however, in two games this week, the UTSA offense did not score after the third inning. For the reasons mentioned above, I’m not overly worried about this (it’s a part of baseball), but it can shift the feeling in the game as the opposing team is always just within reach. This was balanced out, though, with two double-digit wins on Friday and Saturday. I would probably feel different about it if it had been mixed in with a 2-2 week instead of a 4-0 week.
Leyton Barry: The senior had himself quite a game on Friday night. He reached base safely four out of five times and was a double shy of the cycle. It is a moot point now, but at the time, I wondered how many cycles in history also featured a walk. The other highlight of Barry’s game on Friday was an opposite-field home run, his fourth of the season. Barry recorded five total RBIs over the weekend, thirty-four on the season.
Shane Sirdashney – Sirdashney used his speed and hard-hitting bat to produce six RBIs in Saturday’s win. The senior also had an RBI on Friday night. Unfortunately, he left the game early Sunday afternoon. In his first at-bat of the day, he came up holding his knee after a base hit. He stayed in initially and would come around to score. However, Tye Odom replaced him in center field in the top half. Hopefully, his early exit was nothing more than a precaution, and Shane can return to the field Tuesday.
Tye Odom: Speaking of Tye Odom, the freshman had a great week. It started with a two-hit, two-RBI night against the Aggies. Although Isaiah Walker scored on Odom’s first hit, he was not credited with the RBI due to Walker scoring on a throwing error. Odom entered for Walker early on Saturday and went 2-4, with an RBI and scoring three runs. Odom continues to make a difference when he gets the opportunity.
Ulises Quiroga: Quiroga had a rare two-start week as he started the game in College Station and the series finale against MTSU. Uli went two scoreless against the Aggies, giving up one hit, no runs, no walks, and striking out two. He continued his week with six scoreless innings on Sunday, allowing five hits, one hit by pitch, and striking out four. (Side Note: UTSA Athletics credited Uli with the win on Tuesday; however, like MLB in the NCAA, a starting pitcher must record five complete innings to be eligible for the win. Nonetheless, he is 5-1 on the season in ten appearances).
Ryan Squared – No, you aren’t missing someone on the roster list. UTSA does not have someone with the last name “Squared” on the team. This game ball goes to Ryan Ward and Ryan Beaird. The two each logged an inning of scoreless relief to close out Saturday’s 12-4 win. It was the first appearance for both since the 8-2 Tuesday loss against Texas A&M – Corpus Christi. The pair also had almost identical stat lines giving up no runs, on no hits, no walks, and each struck out one. Coach Hallmark has mentioned the depth he has available on the mound, which continues to prove itself in various ways this season.
vs. Texas State – Tuesday, April 18th @ 6:00PM (CUSATV)
A little over a month ago, UTSA, wedged between a ten-game winning streak, went into San Marcos, and put a drubbing on the Bobcats in their backyard. The result was an 11-2 win where the Roadrunners held Texas State to two runs on five hits. UTSA scored in five consecutive innings, highlighted by a seven-run inning where the lineup batted around.
You can believe that the Bobcats will be looking for revenge on Tuesday night. The I-35 rivals from the Sun Belt conference want the win for not only payback but the RPI implications considering UTSA is now sitting at twenty-eight, according to RPI Update on Twitter.
The Bobcats will be coming to San Antonio with a 24-13 overall record, although they are 9-6 in conference play. Their RPI is 67. The Bobcats are 6-7 on the road, while the Roadrunners are 21-3 at home.
PLAYERS TO WATCH…
Chase Mora (2B) – Mora has twelve home runs and six doubles on the season that helps contribute to a slash line of .304/.388/.716 for an OPS of 1.104. He also has thirty-two RBIs this season, putting him second on the team. Mora’s K:BB ratio is 3.49, and he strikes out 23.7% of the time.
Jose Gonzalez (LF) – While Mora is first in home runs and second in RBIs, Gonzalez is right there as he leads the Bobcats in RBIs at 41 and is second in home runs with ten. He also has ten stolen bases this season on ten attempts. Gonzalez has a much better K:BB ratio than Mora, at 1.30. He also has an OPS over 1.000 coming from a slash line of .295/.423/.597.
Davis Powell (SS) – The shortstop leads the team with thirteen doubles. The next closest Bobcat has seven. I’m unsure why, but Powell did not play in the first matchup between the two groups. In 125 PA, Powell has walked sixteen times and only struck out eleven. That is good for a K: BB ratio of 0.69, and Powell’s BABIP is .391, so he is dangerous when he puts the ball in play.
Jack Stroud (RP) – You may remember Stroud’s name because he entered the game last time in the first inning when Peyton Zabel left with an injury after facing just one batter. On short notice, Stroud pitched three scoreless innings giving up no runs and only three hits. In sixteen appearances this season, he has a 3.41 ERA in twenty-nine innings and has forty-two strikeouts. He has a K: BB ratio of 4.68, and his WHIP is 1.27
Tony Robie (RP) – Robie is another guy I could see log some innings on Tuesday. He only pitched one inning in the last matchup, so UTSA didn’t see much of him. He has fourteen appearances, six of which are starts, and has logged thirty-five innings with thirty-three strikeouts. While his K: BB ratio isn’t as high as Stroud’s, his WHIP is similar at 1.31.
Both teams will put a four-game winning streak on the line Tuesday night. For both teams, those streaks started by beating Power 5 schools. The Bobcats split a two-game series against Texas, and we’ve already discussed UTSA beating Texas A&M. Texas State will look to split the season series and the Roadrunners’ the season sweep. Texas State was picked to be a regional team by the D1 Baseball staff; UTSA was not. What does all of this mean, other than some trivia gee-whiz? Tuesday night is sure to be a dandy! Don’t miss it!
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