Baseball puts up a fight, drops four straight to nationally ranked competition


Julia Maenius

Kyle Bergeron connects on a pitch for a solo home run to left center field. Bergeron enjoyed a solid four game stretch going 5-19 with four RBIs, one double, one home run and two walks.

Ryder Martin, Sports Editor

UTSA baseball (5-6) had gotten off to a fast start to the season, winning their first two series over Sam Houston State (3-10) and UT Arlington (6-9). However, they faced their stiffest tests of the season so far going up against a pair of nationally-ranked teams in No. 9 TCU (10-6) and No. 18 LSU (13-3) from March 10-14. Despite facing such strong competition, UTSA demonstrated their strength, playing four close games that unfortunately fell just short of pulling off the upsets. 

The Roadrunners squared off against TCU on Wednesday night at Roadrunner Field, with Ryan Ward getting the start on the mound for UTSA. Ward struggled right out of the gate and allowed three runs to cross the plate, two of which were earned. UTSA cut into the deficit in the bottom of the third when Joshua Lamb scored on a fast ball following a leadoff double. A solo home run from TCU’s Conner Shepherd restored the three run advantage in the top of the fourth, but UTSA’s Kyle Bergeron responded with one of his own in the bottom of the fifth, bringing the score to 4-2. TCU plated two more runs in the sixth to extend the lead to 6-2. Nick Thornquist brought the ‘Runners back within three with a solo home run, his second of the year, but the ‘Runners’ bats were held in check from that point, and they fell to TCU 6-3. 

The ‘Runners then packed their bags and headed onto the road for a three-game series in Louisiana against LSU. Game one on Friday night was a pitcher’s duel throughout most of the game, an outlier for the series as a whole. Luke Malone (1-1, 2.76 ERA) got the start on the mound for UTSA and was solid. Malone went 5.2 innings allowing three hits, one earned run, three walks and struck out four. It was a gritty effort from Malone, who found himself in trouble at multiple points but managed to work his way out of them without any damage. UTSA was unable to support their starting pitcher’s efforts, however, as they were also held off the scoreboard via a dominant effort by LSU’s starting pitcher Jaden Hill. LSU finally broke the deadlock in the top of the sixth when Cade Doughty connected on a 1-0 count and deposited the ball over the left field wall for a 0-1 LSU lead. UTSA tied the game in the top of the eighth though off of a fielding error as Shane Sirdashney, who was brought in as a pinch runner, came tearing around the bases from second to score. UTSA was unable to hold the game tied; however, LSU scored two in the bottom of the eighth after an attempt at an inning ending double play was unsuccessful. UTSA went three up three down in the top of the ninth, and LSU claimed the opening game of the series by a final score of 3-1. 

Both offenses were held in check during game one, but this would not be the case in game two as both teams’ offenses exploded. Shane Daughety (2-0, 2.50 ERA), fresh off of a complete game shutout against UT Arlington last week, got the nod and got off to a good start, retiring the eight batters he faced. Getting that ninth out, however, would prove troublesome for Daughety. A single followed by a double plated LSU’s first run of the ball game. A hit batter set the table for Doughty with runners on first and third, and he would victimize the ‘Runners again, launching a three-run homer over the left field wall to take a 0-4 lead for LSU. Daughety recovered from there to retire nine straight batters from the fourth to the sixth. Just like in game one, however, it appeared the LSU pitching staff was too much for the ‘Runners’ offense as they had managed to record just two hits through seven innings. At the top of the eighth, the ‘Runners finally woke up. Lamb got things started with a leadoff single and stretched it into a double off of a fielding error in right field. Griffin Paxton followed it up with a single to the right, and then Jonathan Tapia drove Lamb in with another single. Bergeron hit another single into right field to score Paxton, and the lead was down to 2-4. Dylan Rock came in as pinch hitter and delivered a single into center field to score Tapia, but Bergeron was thrown out trying to advance to third. With two outs in the inning, Austin Ochoa came on to pinch hit and worked a walk to load the bases for Sirdashney. Sirdashney struck out looking, ending the inning on a borderline strike three, that enraged UTSA head baseball coach Pat Hallmark, who was promptly ejected from the game for arguing balls and strikes. The top of the ninth saw the ‘Runners pick up where they left off, with Lamb reaching safely to lead off the inning on a fielding error at third. With the tying run on base, Paxton delivered again with a double into the left center, which scored Lamb to tie the game at 4. Paxton worked his way around the bases to third, but a pair of strikeouts from Thornquist and Bailey stranded him at third. A leadoff single in the bottom of the ninth saw LSU threaten to win it, but Daniel Garza retired the next three batters he faced to send the game to extra innings. 

A UTSA offense that had been quiet for so long seemed almost unstoppable as Rock led the inning off with a walk, and then Ochoa promptly handed UTSA the lead with a two-run homer to left field for a 6-4 lead. Sirdashney eventually scored after a sacrifice fly from Tapia, and UTSA headed into the bottom of the tenth with a three-run lead. LSU would not go away without a fight, though, and put two runners on base to begin the inning. That would do it for Garza as he was relieved by Reece Easterling. Easterling recorded a strikeout to start off but ran into a familiar foe during the next at bat as Doughty tagged the ‘Runners again, crushing a game-tying three-run shot deep over the left-center wall to tie the game at seven. Neither team would threaten in the eleventh, but UTSA surged ahead in the twelfth when Tapia banged a double off the wall in the left-center to score Paxton and Ochoa. Once again, the UTSA bullpen was unable to hold the lead, though, as LSU’s Gavin Dugas got a hold of one on a full count with two outs in the inning for a two-run homer to tie the game at nine. UTSA went three up three down in the top of the thirteenth, and LSU would finally end the game with a walk-off solo home run by Jordan Thompson off of UTSA pitcher John Chomko for a 9-10 victory.

Following their marathon game the night before, the two teams still had one game left to play in the series, and it was another nail-biter. Kobe Jaramillo (0-0, 5.40 ERA) made his first career start for UTSA and turned in a shaky performance lasting 2.2 innings with three hits, two earned runs, five walks and two strikeouts. Jaramillo was roughed up early with LSU’s Dylan Crews starting off the game with a leadoff home run and Doughty continuing his rampage with his fourth home run of the series to take an early two-run lead. UTSA responded in the second and third innings with a pair of solo home runs from Thornquist and Paxton to tie the game at 2. The game quickly began to devolve into a home run derby, though, as LSU hit a pair of two-run homers in the fifth and Doughty singled in another run to take a commanding 2-7 lead. They would promptly extend this in the sixth with another two runs, and UTSA was quickly falling out of the ballgame. Bailey brought them a run closer in the seventh with a leadoff home run, and Bergeron drove Paxton in with a single, but Thornquist would ground out to the shortstop to leave two runners stranded in scoring position. The eighth inning came up empty for UTSA, and they would enter the ninth trailing 4-9. UTSA, however, was undeterred by the margin and unleashed a furious rally in the top of the ninth. A Tapia single and throwing error by Doughty brought Chris Shull and Lamb in to score to cut the lead to three. Bergeron would immediately follow it up with an RBI double to score Tapia, and the lead was down to two. Leyton Barry worked a walk to put the tying run on base, and a wild pitch would move him into scoring position at second. An Ochoa sacrifice fly scored Bergeron, and UTSA was within one. With two out in the inning and the tying run at second, UTSA turned to Rock, and he delivered, lacing the first pitch he saw into left field to score Barry to tie the game but was thrown out attempting to extend his single into a double. LSU was retired in order, and for the second straight game, they were headed to extra innings. Just like the night before, UTSA seized momentum early. Operating under extra-inning rules that placed a runner on second, UTSA capitalized with a Lamb sacrifice fly to score Rock and take the early lead in extras. Sirdashney entered the game as a pinch hitter, and the move immediately paid dividends for UTSA as he nailed a ball for a double to score Bailey. UTSA added one more run off of a fielding error at second to take a 12-9 lead heading into the bottom of the tenth. In a painful remix of the prior night, though, UTSA was again unable to hold the lead. The hero of the prior night’s game, Thompson struck again with a two-run home run to draw LSU within one and a pinch hit solo home run from LSU’s Hayden Travinski tied the game at 12. UTSA was unable to put a run on the board in the eleventh, and this proved to be their downfall as LSU quickly advanced a runner to third in the bottom of the eleventh and Dugas laced a ball into right field for a walk off single, handing LSU the series sweep with a 12-13 victory in the finale.

Despite dropping all four games this past week, UTSA has cause for optimism. Going up against a pair of nationally-ranked opponents, UTSA kept it close in all four games, and in the case of LSU, the series was in the position to win the last two games of that series. The offense continues to be the primary weapon for the ‘Runners, demonstrating an ability to keep up with one of the best offenses in college baseball in LSU, who currently rank third in the nation in runs scored. The late leads blown during the LSU series may indicate some cause for concern and bears keeping an eye on as the season progresses. The losses dropped UTSA to 5-6 to start the year off, albeit against strong competition. The ‘Runners will next be in action on Tuesday, March 16, in Waco to take on the University of Baylor. The first pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., and the game will be broadcasted on ESPN+.