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UTSA Baseball Wins Series Against Northwestern With Solid Pitching and Big Moments

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It seems appropriate that a non-traditional weekend of baseball would offer up the games fans saw over the weekend at the Bird Bath. The double-header featured two lopsided scores, benefiting each team. On Sunday, the one day the weather was supposed to cooperate, the teams endured a four hour rain delay before the first pitch. The Roadrunners bookended the series with solid pitching, hot bats in game one, and clutch defense in game three to defeat the Northwestern Wildcats two games to one. The Sunday win also got them back to .500 and a 10-10 record. Next up on the docket is the midweek I-35 rivalry series before conference play begins with the formidable East Carolina Pirates coming to San Antonio.

The Good…

The pitching wasn’t lights out all weekend, but it was overall more good than not. For the second time in three weeks Fischer Kingsbery opened the game with Freshman Robert Orloski entering from the bullpen. While Orloski has been trending up all season, his outings seem to be slightly better when Coach Hallmark goes with this strategy. The pair tag-teamed seven of the nine innings, only allowing one run on five hits, with four strikeouts. The remaining three innings were shared amongst three relievers, two of whom allowed no runs.

On Sunday, Uli Quiroga churned his best performance of the season to date. In a tightly-contested matchup, his six innings pitched kept the Wildcats scoreless. Daniel Garza had his nasty slider working in relief. After a long two games on Saturday and a long rain delay on Sunday, I have to imagine both teams were stretched. The shutout performance helped preserve the two-run production by the offense for the series win.

There is certainly some “not so good” with the defense from the weekend. It made Saturday’s game two loss look ugly. In opposing fashion, the defense contributed to Sunday’s win in a big way. Matt King and Hector Rodriguez were trading punches for the game’s top play. In baseball a solid pitching performance is often paired with solid defense. That is exactly what the left side of the infield gave yesterday. There were also moments in the outfield where the UTSA players made difficult plays look routine. Finding consistency with the defense will certainly help in inevitable low-scoring games.

Supporting the pitching on Friday, the bats helped the series get off on the right foot. Sixteen hits helped contribute to twelve runs, nine of which were charged as earned. Mason Lytle had his best day at the plate, going 4-5 and falling a triple shy of the cycle. Though it was overshadowed by the loss, his speed also helped him log a little league home run in game two. Caleb Hill also recorded four hits on the day, highlighted by his sixth home run.

A newcomer that is starting to show his bat at the plate more is Andrew Stucky. Stucky was used more situationally to start the season. With Moressi still hurt it seems, Stucky is getting more time at the plate. He had his first home run of the season in game one. In the series finale a huge double to the wall gave the Roadrunners their first run on Sunday. Matt King also came up clutch as his lone hit on Sunday was also a double that gave a much needed insurance run.

The Not So Good…

Twenty-seven. That is how many runners UTSA left on base across the weekend. Almost half of that number came from the twelve left on base in Sunday’s game. Multiple times on Sunday the inning ended with the bases loaded. This continues to be a statistic we mention each week. The Roadrunners had a combined 17 hits on the day. They simply could not deliver when they needed to. Thankfully, they still closed the night with a win. It could have been a much more comfortable outcome though.

Game two saw UTSA commit three errors, all of which came at crucial points. The six run inning for Northwestern proved to be the difference maker. Once again, a single crooked number cost UTSA a win. One decision by Coach Hallmark I wasn’t sure about was Conor Myles coming back out for another inning in game two. He only faced two batters and threw three pitches in the first outing, but it’s possible the time in-between gassed him early. I would rather have kept him on the shelf for game one and have him fresh for game two. The extra outs kept guys on the mound and let Northwestern chip away for fifteen hits.

I appreciate and enjoy Coach Hallmark’s approach to the situation battle. They aren’t bad calls, they just haven’t quite worked out as much as you would hope. In a game that was evident it would be low scoring, UTSA had two failed hit and runs, and could not get a bunt laid down early. Both of those areas the Roadrunners have struggled with, so it is possible that they are calling it more to knock the rust off. While the double steal worked at one point, there was still some confusion by the runner on first with how much to sell the fake. It almost resulted in a failed attempt.

Looking Ahead…

This week the UTSA Roadrunners will play the first of two midweek games against Texas State this season. Last season, they went in to San Marcos and walked, or rather, hit all over the Bobcats resulting in an 11-2 win. The rematch a month later saw the Bobcats take the close win at the Bird Bath. You may remember it was the game with the infamous no-call on Matt Kings possible home run. Oh, if there was only replay at the time. Times have changed though. Regardless of the fact that both teams have not gotten off to the start they would like, this game will certainly have its exciting moments.

Texas State is 11-9 on the season. Their biggest win of the year was an 11-10 win against #23 Texas  at Minute Maid Park. They have had eleven games where the score differential was three runs or less, and their record from those games is 4-7. They have also had, in this order: a three game win streak, a three game losing streak, a four game win streak, a five game losing streak, and a four game win streak. The most recent winning streak was snapped on Sunday when they missed out on sweeping Appalachian State, losing 3-2.

While he has cooled down slightly at the plate, freshman Ryne Farber is still posting impressive numbers. He leads the team in batting average, on-base percentage, hits, and walks. Keeping him off the bases will be critical. Left Fielder Daylan Pena is another one to watch. Pena is an extra-base-hitting machine with twelve so far this season. Familiar to College Baseball sickos is second baseman Chase Mora. While Mora’s average hasn’t come around yet, he is leading the team with twenty RBIs.

On the pitching side, it is anybody’s guess who gets the start. The Bobcats only have one pitcher that has made consistent starts. The remaining starts have been spread out among seven pitchers. Based on ERA and IP, if I had to give you a name I would say Drayton Brown.

Brown has a 3.60 ERA in fifteen innings pitched. He also has an impressive eighteen strikeouts, which is tied for second on the team. Also be on the lookout for veterans Peyton Zabel and Jack Stroud. On the back end, Matthew Tippie and Jonathan Martinez lead the way. They both have ERAs near two, with double digit innings pitched. Also impressive is their OBA, .156 and .167 respectively.

Paired with their .500 record, UTSA is .500 in the midweek slate this season. Thanks to the three touchdown score against Tarleton, where they won 21-4, they are outscoring the midweek opponents 42-29, despite the 2-2 record. A win puts them above .500 in both categories previously mentioned.

I will be at the game in San Marcos. The Turning Tuesday’s episode will be a little late this week, but it should be worth the wait. With conference play starting this weekend, we will be bringing you a mega three part episode with the maestro himself, Jared Kalmus. Be sure to tune in.

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