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UTSA Drops Close Game to ACU; Wins Final Series of Regular Season Against La Tech

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After UTSA gave up a late lead to ACU on Tuesday to drop their fourth straight, it makes sense that it took a game like we saw Thursday evening to break the losing streak. The Roadrunners and Bulldogs combined for thirty-four runs on thirty-seven hits in an eleven-inning shootout. UTSA broke a four-inning scoreless drought with a four-run eleventh to get their first win in four games. They would hold on to win Thursday night, 18-16, and game two with the more common box score of 5-3. While the two seed in the conference tournament was already secured going into the weekend, they won their eleventh series of the season before dropping the regular season finale 7-5. The Roadrunners conclude the regular season with a record of 38-17 (21-8). A program record of forty wins is still in play. 


Plenty of Homers – UTSA would hit twelve home runs across the four games. These came early and late, solo shots and even a game-tying grand slam. Taylor Smith went off this week (more on that later), and senior Shane Sirdashney hit a pinch-hit, solo home run in the top of the ninth of his final regular season game as a Roadrunner. UTSA has now hit seventy-six home runs on the season. They will need to bring this power into Reckling Park next week to have a good conference tournament. 

Base on Balls – While they had trouble benefiting from the walks on Sunday, the Roadrunners reached on walks as many times as base hits and drew twenty-one walks across the slate. When having trouble finding the gaps and a pitcher that is dealing, getting on via walks still creates pressure. It seemed on Sunday that the home plate umpire was switching up his strike zone for both teams. UTSA remained patient and at least created some action in most half-innings across the weekend. 

Scoring Early and Late – UTSA scored in the first and last inning in all three games this weekend. This gave the starting pitcher a lead before he took the mound and provided crucial insurance runs for the final bottom half in both wins. Although the ‘Runners’ ninth-inning rally would fall short, like they have shown all season, they didn’t go down without a fight. The ability to score runs at any point will have teams worried about facing the Roadrunners in the conference tournament. 

Pulling out close wins – The C-USA tournament will be a wild week. The three through six seeds are separated by three games. Even Rice, at the eighth seed, could create some upsets if they can work out their bullpen issues against tougher competition. UTSA has shown they can battle late this season and pull out close wins. They showed it this week, being in every game and winning two, two-run games. They will need this resiliency and grit to have a successful tournament. 


Allowing big innings early – As much as Roadrunners helped themselves on the offensive side of things this weekend, the early leads wouldn’t last long. In two of the three games against La Tech, UTSA trailed 5-2 after two innings. After three innings against ACU, the ‘Runners faced a six-run deficit. Big innings like these to start the game can derail the game plan quickly. It forces going to the bullpen early, and the team is playing from behind almost immediately. While the C-USA tournament is double elimination, each round is one game. As a team, you don’t want to find yourself needing three or four runs early simply to get back within reach. 

Location issues – This might be a moot point because the highest walk number for the UTSA pitching staff came on Sunday, and we have already discussed the inconsistent strike zone. Overall, UTSA kept the walks down this week. They still walked eight on Sunday, although only two of those walks would come around to score. There is always the argument that pitching around a guy who is hitting well and it results in a walk is the safer approach. It seems that the UTSA pitching staff has been susceptible to giving up home runs lately. Giving up walks that can quickly pile up the pitch count and create multi-run home runs can deflate a staff. Six of the eight walks on Sunday were either four or five-pitch walks. 


Taylor Smith – The senior designated hitter had quite the week. Smith would hit at least one home run in three of the four games this week. Thursday and Friday were multi-home run games, and while he only hit one on Tuesday, it was a fifth-inning grand slam that tied the game at seven apiece. His three-home run game on Friday was good enough to land him on D1 Baseball’s “Top 40 hitters list” for the day, but it also brought him within one home run of tying the UTSA single-season home run record. He has undoubtedly found another gear in the second half of the season and is getting hot at the right time. 

Ryan Ward – Ward was given the start for game two in the weekend series against La Tech. The right-hander churned out his best outing of the season. Going five complete innings, he held La Tech to two runs on two hits, three walks, and one strikeout. With UTSA able to hold on to the lead, Ward recorded his first win of the season. Including his outing against DBU last week, he seems to be finding his groove entering tournament play. 

Drake Smith – With the back-and-forth runs and extra inning series opener, UTSA used five pitchers on Thursday night. Drake Smith followed Ward’s outing with his excellent performance to secure the series win. He would go four innings, giving up one run on one hit, two walks, and six strikeouts. With Ward and Smith taking all nine innings, it allowed a much fuller bullpen for Saturday’s series finale. 

Simon Miller – When Miller entered in the seventh inning Thursday night, I don’t think either he or Coach Hallmark expected five innings of work. It was just one of those games, however. Miller had, by far, his longest outing of the season. He would throw eighty-five pitches, allowing three runs (0 earned) on four hits, two walks, and three strikeouts. Miller’s ability to dig deep has not only helped all season but also, like Ward and Smith, it preserved cutting into too much of the bullpen. 

Leyton Barry – I decided to pick Barry out of Thursday’s options based on the situation (because how do you choose when eighteen runs are scored). The senior second baseman followed up Smith’s third homer of the game with one of his own. His two-run home run would prove vital, giving UTSA their sixteenth and seventeenth runs. La Tech would end up scoring sixteen. Barry would finish the night going 4-5 with a walk, five RBIs, and three runs scored. 

Garrett Brooks – The redshirt freshman had a significant moment in the field and contributed to UTSA’s final at-bat on Thursday evening. In the bottom of the eighth, with the game tied at fourteen and a runner on first, Brooks made an acrobatic catch for the second out and kept the runner at first with a quick throw to the cut-off man. Had Brooks not made the catch, it is at least 2nd and 3rd with one out, if not a one-run deficit. Brooks also recorded his first RBI of the season, getting UTSA that eighteenth run of the night. While Barry’s home run ensured the two runs by La Tech in the bottom half would not be a walk-off win, Brook’s provided a little more breathing room when those two runs were scored. 

Shane Sirdasney – After leaving Sunday’s game against MTSU last month with an apparent knee injury, the senior CF has appeared only a handful of times and never full a full game since. Although the exact extent of the injury is unknown, it seems that he won’t be at 100 percent come tournament time. (Hopefully, I am way off). Dash pinch hit on Saturday in his final regular season game as a Roadrunner. He took full advantage of the moment and hit a solo home run to extend the inning and draw the deficit to two. I imagine it will undoubtedly be a moment he looks back on and cherishes. 


Four two-run games in a week are both stressful and exciting. It appropriately sets the tone for post-season baseball. While the time of game one has yet to be discovered, we do know it will be against MTSU. In the regular season, UTSA swept the Blue Raiders at the Bird Bath while also outscoring them 30-13. That was over a month ago, however. It also was the last series we saw Sirdashney, Odom, and Walker play healthy. Since then, none of the three have consistently taken the field and Odom hasn’t appeared since the Texas State game. In the nineteen games following MTSU, UTSA has gone 10-9. Coach Hallmark and his staff have probably used more lineup tactics than they would have liked to over the last month.

If there is a team that has shown they can be faced with adversity and come out on the other side, it is the 2023 UTSA Roadrunners. Buckle up for an exciting and likely surprising in one way or another Conference Tournament. Let’s hope our guys finish on top! 

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