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The UTSA Roadrunners recently wrapped up their roughly five weeks of fall ball with the intrasquad Fall World Series. The Black Team defeated the Orange Team two games to zero. More on that in a moment. This means that we are that much closer to another season of Roadrunner baseball!
There is something different about Baseball in the fall. The air is crisp (well, maybe not in South Texas). I grew up in Minnesota where the fall meant cool evenings where you rushed home to hopefully get a catch in before the sun came down. You then tuned in to October Baseball where you watched to see who would match up in the Fall Classic. Bonus points if your team was in contention!
For others, fall ball is a new start if you will. It’s a time to refocus, either moving on from the past season or build on it. For the Roadrunners, I would imagine they will be focusing on the latter while finding motivation from the former.
You may remember that, much to the disagreement of those who frequented the Bird Bath all season, UTSA was left on the outside looking in during the regional tournament selections. The Roadrunners displayed arguably one of their best seasons in program history last season. It was a season that included both individual and team records. Some of note included a program best wins against ranked opponents (11). The Roadrunners finished with their highest RPI in school history at 37. They battled to the C-USA championship which included the Runners upsetting the #1 seed Southern Miss in the Golden Eagles’ back yard! La Tech would go on to defeat UTSA in the championship game and secure the automatic bid to regionals. What the Roadrunners did show everyone last season is that they are here to stay!
The Roadrunners saw encouraging performances during the fall ball campaign and are looking to build off last seasons success. Let’s dig in (pun intended) to what that looked like.
Sophomore Matt King started right where he left off at the end of last season. Multiple fall ball honors concluded with a great stat line during the Fall World Series. Going 4-for-8 with 3 runs, and a walk, he received Offensive Co-MVP honors. King was selected for the 2022 C-USA All-Freshmen team.
Josh Killeen shared the Offensive MVP with King. Like King, he also batted .500 during the Fall World Series. Going 3-for-6, 1 R, 3 RBI, and 2 BB. King split his time last season between spot catcher and designated hitter. He provided one of the hottest bats at the end of the season including the C-USA tournament.
Pitcher Drake Smith will be another to watch closely when the regular season rolls around. While his stats last season were not great, he seems to have turned a corner during fall ball. He not only received pitcher of the week honors but was also awarded Most Valuable Pitcher for the Fall World Series. Smith was credited with one of the two wins going 4 IP and giving up 0 R, 2 H, and 3 K.
We can’t forget veteran leaders Luke Malone and Leyton Barry who will be seniors and coming off first and second team All-Conference USA honors, respectively.
It is also encouraging to see UTSA recognize the job Coach Pat Hallmark has done leading this program. Hallmark came to UTSA with a very impressive resumé. Both as a player and coach. Hallmark is a catcher by trade. This may explain the Runners breaking the school record for strikeouts last year. How a catcher calls the game is integral to the pitcher’s success. It was announced in August that UTSA and Coach Hallmark agreed to a four-year extension which will keep him here through the 2026 season.
Perhaps one thing about baseball more than other sports is that nothing is guaranteed from one season to the next. Major League Baseball has seen pre-season favorites finish below .500 (cue my Minnesota Twins). College baseball is no different. Last year Ole Miss was number 4 of the last 4 teams in for the regional tournament. What did they do with that? Just go ahead and win the 2022 College World Series. I for one, am hoping and believing UTSA can build on the magic of last season. I believe the success of Runners Baseball is here to stay!
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