UTSA baseball opened its season with a three-game series against former Southland conference foe, the McNeese State Cowboys.
Senior pitcher Karan Patel took the mound for the Roadrunners as their front-line starter on Friday, Feb. 15. A two-inning deadlock ended when Patel lost control and McNeese State left fielder Peyton Harden scored a run, giving the Cowboys an early lead. The ‘Runners began their weekend of errors with an early error from senior captain Bryan Arias. McNeese State took advantage of a walk and a passed ball and broke open a four-run lead in the fifth inning. The Roadrunner bullpen would have a long night as McNeese State would go on to score in every inning after the fifth. Juniors Jake Harrison, Hunter Grimes and Connor Heffron allowed 16 runs and gave up five home runs to McNeese State. The ‘Runners’ fell 16-5 to McNeese State.
“KP (Patel) got us off to a good start,” UTSA head coach Jason Marshall said. “We didn’t throw well out of the ‘pen and it really forces your hand. You don’t just bring out your best guys down 5-0.”
McNeese State would continue their scorching offensive performance on Saturday, Feb. 16, by taking advantage of a wild start from senior captain Bradley Griggs. The Cowboys wasted no time and hit a leadoff home run and a second home run later in the inning. Griggs began the season by hitting a batter and walking the second batter of the inning. Outfielder Shane Selman would drive both runs in and score after a single by Carson Maxwell, pushing the Cowboy lead to 7-0 in the second inning.
UTSA plated two runs in the bottom of second after sophomore Jonathan Tapia singled, scoring sophomores Chase Keng and Chase Hacker, which brought the score to 7-2. Back-to-back singles opened the fourth inning and an error from Hacker loaded the bases for the Cowboys. Outfielder for the Cowboys Jake Dickerson singled home two runs and a throwing error from UTSA shortstop Joshua Lamb added a third. McNeese State scored five runs in the inning and backed up the series victory with a 12-3 win over UTSA.
UTSA leaned on senior Palmer Wenzel to start the final game of the series and hoped to avoid the sweep. In his first career start, Wenzel would shine for the Roadrunners and leave them with a positive finish to a poor series. Both McNeese State and UTSA would put runs on the scoreboard in the first inning, but UTSA would come away with an early 2-1 lead after junior Griffin Paxton scores on a wild pitch.
After another pair of runs were scored from both teams, both pitchers began throwing scoreless innings with UTSA leading 3-2. Wenzel dominated through six innings, giving up five hits and striking out five. Coach Marshall would turn to junior pitcher Cameron Carver to close the door for the ‘Runners. Carver pitched the final three innings and did not allow a hit and struck out two. Cowboy pitcher Cayne Ueckert matched Carver inning-for-inning until the seventh, when Paxton’s two run single gave UTSA the insurance it needed for a 5-2 victory.
“Sunday’s always a moving day and the last game of the weekend is always tough,” coach Marshall said. “I was proud of our guys. We just needed a quality start and to get off a good beginning of the game and dance around a few mistakes early is good.”
Find the Roadrunners in action on Tuesday against Texas A&M Corpus Christi at 6 p.m. and again this weekend against Dartmouth at 6 p.m. on Friday, 1 p.m. on Saturday and 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.