utsa baseball ecu 2024

UTSA Baseball Opens AAC Play With Series Win Against #10 ECU

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It would take several checked boxes to knock off the highest-ranked team to visit the Bird Bath for a full series. One of those was a clean defense. UTSA bookended the series with just that, and it was vital in winning the series against the #10 ECU Pirates as UTSA played their first-ever series in the American Athletic Conference. After a frustrating opening month of the season, UTSA played good baseball while showing fans, and themselves, that they can compete against the top teams in the country. While there are still things to work on, and it is just one weekend, this series win certainly feels good. This was also the first time UTSA took a series over a Top 10-ranked team. 

The Good… 

UTSA stepped up to the batter’s box and mirrored ECU’s own game back at them. They played small ball, were aggressive on the bases, and were prepared for the situational hitting that ECU presented. What’s impressive is that even when plays went the Pirates’ way, UTSA was right on the sequence and missed by inches at times. Seeing quality bunt attempts and having that tool in the back pocket was refreshing. Good bunting and baseball IQ on the bases can carry you a long way. 

The defense was on its game this weekend. Several times throughout, especially on Friday and Sunday, it got UTSA out of jams and preserved leads. The defense up the middle gets the game ball. Broc Parmer made crucial blocks behind the plate and caught runners stealing. Matt King, Diego Diaz, and Zane Spinn flashed the leather and filled the gaps nicely. Mason Lytle made two diving catches, one to end the inning on Friday and another on Sunday. It is a good place to be opening conference play. 

On the pitching side, outside of Saturday, those on the mound stayed composed. Ruger Riojas closed out the game in both wins, and UTSA managed to get through two games using only five pitchers. With a short week ahead, it was also helpful to minimize bullpen usage.

Freshman Robert Orloski continues to get settled on the mound with a quality start and win on Friday. While ECU managed four home runs on Sunday, only one was a multi-run homer, and it seemed like the wind aided most of them. Speaking of pitching, the Roadrunners got to both Pirates aces early. They put seven combined earned runs against the pair, and neither lasted beyond five innings. 

One other area of improvement seen this weekend was additional support from the hitters on the roster. Baseball has its ups and downs. Getting production from different spots in the lineup when others are struggling is crucial to success. Finding multiple ways to win is needed for successful teams. The Roadrunners got at least nine hits in each game, and everyone picked each other up somehow at some point. 

The Not So Good…

Throughout the weekend, UTSA struck out twenty-eight times at the plate. Almost half of those came in Saturday’s 14-10 loss and thirteen of them came against the two aces previously mentioned. That tells me some of that is a hat tip to the opponent. It still looks like, at times, that the Roadrunners are watching pitches with two strikes. Several aspects go into an at-bat that ends in a strikeout. The quality of the at-bat, zone, and approach are a few. It seems that UTSA still has at least one game each weekend with a crooked number in that category. From the mound, UTSA struck out nineteen, with eight on Sunday. 

Unsurprisingly, a team like ECU had a good day at the plate. They made it count on Saturday, plating fourteen, of which twelve were earned. UTSA saw its middle relievers struggle in the game, with four pitchers allowing at least two runs in three innings or less. Consistent help from the middle relievers is essential to build on this momentum. Getting guys like Ryan Ward back should help with the depth and options. It’s a long season, and you don’t want to burn guys out. 

UTSA continues to struggle with the hit-and-run. Part of what I’ve noticed is not putting the ball in play, but I’ve also seen batters swing at bad pitches when the sign is given. I’m not about to tell someone to ignore a sign, and unfortunately, I don’t know how much decision-making the batter is given in laying off. I know the last thing you want is to strike them out, throw them out. So, for now, we will stick with trying to make better contact. 

Looking Ahead… 

It will be a short week for the Baseball team. They will travel to Waco on Tuesday in a midweek game against Baylor. They will then have a quick turnaround when they travel to Tulane for the weekend conference series. With Easter weekend on tap, it will be a Thursday through Saturday series. Winning on Tuesday is important, but so is getting through the game with minimal bullpen use. 

Last year, UTSA rolled into Waco looking for power. So much so that Coach Hallmark (maybe purposefully for motivation) mentioned in the ESPN+ interview that he wished the team had more power. While this game is a little later in the season than last year, the Roadrunners have seen more consistent power this go-round. 

The highlight of Baylor’s 2024 has been a series sweep against the 2023 Omaha surprise team, Oral Roberts University. They also took a game against Texas this past weekend before dropping the next two. Outside of that, it has been worse than good. They come into the Tuesday matchup with a record of 8-15 and 3-6 in Big 12 play. Fans shouldn’t dismiss them based on their record. They are certainly capable of scoring runs in bunches. They have scored double digits in four games, two of which were against teams UTSA faced. The Bears beat Lamar 11-5 and SFA 17-4. They have also allowed eight runs or more in eight of their fifteen losses. 

They have a trio of batters hitting over .300 from the plate when looking at players with over forty plate appearances. They are getting overall solid production from their DH spot. Most of their run production comes from right fielder Enzo Apodaca, who leads the team with eighteen RBIs. After Apodaca, the Bears have four players with ten RBIs and one with eleven. 

On the mound, Baylor has spread out many innings outside their weekend starters. They have only had two pitchers log over twenty innings pitched. If UTSA can jump on the pitching early, similar to this past weekend, they may force Baylor to get creative. Keep an eye out for Mason Green and Ethan Calder. Green is averaging 3.3 IP with a 3.60 ERA and a .227 OBA. Calder seems to be Baylor’s closer. He has thrown 18.2 innings in nine appearances and has a very impressive 0.96 ERA. He also has seventeen strikeouts and only two walks. Opponents are hitting just .203 against him. 

After a narrow loss in a high-scoring game against Texas State last week, UTSA is 2-3 in midweek games. A win would get them back to .500 in midweek games and would give them their second win against a Big 12 opponent this season. It looks like a 6:30 PM start, which will make for a late night for the team traveling back. Fans should be able to find the game on ESPN+. 

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