In the 26-year history of the baseball program, UTSA had a record of 6-22 against the Rice Owls. Only two of those wins came on the road. Houston natives Karan Patel and Dylan Rock led the Roadrunners into Reckling Park and came away with their first series win against Rice in program history from March 22 to 24.
Patel pitched six shutout innings for the Roadrunners and kept the game scoreless long enough for UTSA’s offense to capitalize. In the seventh inning, following a Bryan Arias triple, Rock drove in Arias with a single to open the scoring and gave UTSA a 1-0 lead. A bunt moved Rock to second where Griffin Paxton crushed a ball to right field and stretched out a triple. A wild pitch punctuated a three-run inning for the Roadrunners and gave them a 3-0 lead.
Rice responded in the seventh inning with two runs, but Patel closed the door before they could tie and turned the game over to the bullpen with a narrow 3-2 lead going into the eighth inning. Hunter Mason stepped on the mound and responded with a 1-2-3 eighth inning and secured the 4-2 victory.
With a 1-0 series lead, Rock made his presence felt in game two and headed a terrific offensive performance for the ‘Runners.
UTSA scored in each of the first five innings and broke open a 9-1 lead. Every player ended the game with at least a hit, run scored or run batted in. Rock extended his hitting streak to 23 games by recording three hits along with two runs scored and an RBI. Left fielder Ryan Stacy gained three hits, including a double that led him to score after two wild pitches to give UTSA a 1-0 lead. Three runs in the second and two in back-to-back innings gave the ‘Runners a lead that would not relinquish behind the arm of Slater Foust.
Foust worked his way out of early trouble in the first inning and retired nine of the next 11 hitters and continued to dominate as the game wore on. Jake Harrison was called upon in the sixth inning with two outs and pitched another scoreless inning before giving way to captain Bradley Griggs to close the game. Shortstop Aldo Buendia and catcher Garrett Moon each drove in two runs and the series clinching win was never in doubt as UTSA cruised to a 9-3 win.
However, the weekend did not go unblemished for the ‘Runners as Rice avoided a historic sweep at home with an 8-6 victory in game three. Fatigue set in for the UTSA pitchers and the Owls pounced on the weakened players. Mason started for the Roadrunners after his game one performance and struggled in the inning. Mason would only record one out in the third inning as Rice scored two runs before coach Jason Marshall went to his bullpen. He called upon Zach Griggs, who finished the third inning but gave up a run in the process and put Rice in the lead 3-1. Rock responded with a historic lead-off single in the fourth inning, extending his hitting-streak to 24 games. Rock has recorded a hit in all 24 games this season for UTSA and is now the holder of the second longest hitting streak in program history.
Bryan Sturges did not allow UTSA to fade away with a two-run home run to tie the game at three after four innings. Rice retaliated with a run in the fifth and sixth inning before earning a comfortable lead in the seventh inning. Three runs scored via a two-out single, which scored two and another hit scored the third run of the inning that secured a 8-3 lead which was insurmountable for the Roadrunners.
UTSA showed new life in the eighth inning after a two-out RBI hit by Paxton, but a great play by Rice shortstop Braden Comeaux halted the scoring at three and UTSA went into the ninth inning with hope, only trailing 8-6. An error and walk put two men on for UTSA with one out in the ninth inning, but closer Garrett Gayle struck out the next two batters and earned a save for Rice as they took game three from the Roadrunners.
UTSA, coming off a 3-1 road trip, will come back for a four-game home stand that begins with SEC titan Missouri on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Roadrunner Field.