‘Runners swept by Southern Mississippi in series cut short

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Julia Maenius

Fischer Kingsbery throws a pitch during Thursday night’s series opener. Kingsbery made his second appearance of the season for the ‘Runners and worked three innings in relief.

Ryder Martin, Sports Editor

UTSA baseball (11-11, 3-4 C-USA) continued their run-through conference play over the weekend with a four-game series against the University of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (17-9, 4-3 C-USA). Coming off of a prior series win over Rice, momentum was riding high for the Roadrunners, but things came quickly crashing down. A 9-1 loss on Thursday, April 1, followed by a sweep in the double header on Friday afternoon, and finally a cancellation due to rain on Saturday, left UTSA winless for the series and sliding back to .500 on the season. 

The series got started on Thursday night and saw Southern Mississippi take home the win by a final score of 1-9. UTSA starter Ryan Ward (0-3, 8.38) had a rough night at the office on the mound, lasting three innings allowing three hits, four earned runs and four walks while striking out three. Southern Mississippi got out to a 0-4 lead after three innings, with two runs coming off of a two-run home run by Charlie Fischer in the third, but the fourth inning was when things really fell apart for the ‘Runners. After a leadoff walk to start the inning, head coach Pat Hallmark pulled Ward and inserted Kyle Sonduck (0-0, 12.27 ERA) in relief. Sonduck retired the first two batters he faced, but from there, things spiraled quickly. Back-to-back walks loaded the bases for the Golden Eagles and brought Hallmark back out to replace Sonduck with Jay Ward (0-0, 6.43 ERA). J. Ward promptly proceeded to walk a run in and then hit the next batter he faced to bring Hallmark out for the third pitching change of the inning. Fischer Kingsbery (0-0, 8.31 ERA) was inserted onto the mound and just like his predecessor he could not find the strike zone, walking the first two batters he faced to bring in another two runs for Southern Mississippi. Kingsbery managed to strike out the next batter to end the inning, but when the dust had settled, the Golden Eagles had doubled their advantage to 0-8 and batted around, all while not recording a single hit in the inning. A Dylan Rock sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth to score Griffin Paxton ensured the ‘Runners would not be shut out, but that was the extent of their offense as they lost game one. 

Game two, and the first game of the doubleheader, saw UTSA fall in extra innings by a final score of 9-13. Both offenses exchanged big shots throughout the game, with both teams firing on all cylinders. UTSA starter Grant Miller (0-1, 7.07 ERA) did not last very long on the mound for the ‘Runners going just 2.1 innings while allowing four hits, two earned runs, four walks and recording one strikeout. The first home run of the season by Taylor Barber in the bottom of the fourth gave UTSA a 4-2 lead, but it would not last, with the Golden Eagles responding strongly in the fifth by plating four runs to regain the lead at 4-8. UTSA put together a rally in the bottom of the seventh to tie things back up. A passed ball allowing Paxton to score got the rally started, and a two RBI single from Nick Thornquist drew the ‘Runners within one. Joshua Lamb grounded into a double play to kneecap the ‘Runners’ big inning, but the play did allow Thornquist to score from third and tie the game at eight. A solo home run from Southern Mississippi’s Billy Garrity in the top of the eighth off of UTSA’s Daniel Garza (1-0, 4.91 ERA) saw the Eagles inch ahead once again. The ‘Runners were not going away so easily, however, and responded in the bottom half when redshirt freshmen catcher Josh Killeen picked a great time to hit his first career collegiate home run, launching a ball over the wall in left center field. Neither team threatened in the ninth and the game headed to the 10th. Hunter Mason (3-4, 5.40 ERA), who had pitched a solid ninth inning for the ‘Runners, did not have the same magic in extras, allowing a go-ahead three-run home run to Will McGillis as well as another run later in the inning to hand the Golden Eagles a 9-13 advantage heading into the bottom of the inning. Searching for one more rally, the ‘Runners could not find it and dropped the opening game of the double header.

Taking place directly after, the ‘Runners bats still appeared warm as they immediately raced out to a 2-0 lead after the first inning of game two. From there, though, it was all Southern Mississippi. UTSA starter Simon Miller (2-1, 3.98 ERA), who had looked very impressive in his two career starts prior to this game, did not have the same magic, making it through four innings, allowing six hits, nine runs of which only four were earned, five walks and five strikeouts. The Golden Eagles torched Miller for five runs in the second to take control of the game and then came right back in the top of third and roughed him up for another three to jump out to a 2-8 lead after the third. Despite their fast start to the game, the UTSA offense disappeared for the next five innings, failing to record a hit and only registering three baserunners. With the score sitting at 2-11 in the bottom of the seventh, the ‘Runners made the game look a little nicer in the box score, taking advantage of an error and some walks to score three. A Chase Keng grounder ended things for the ‘Runners, however, as they dropped what turned out to be the final game of the series by a final score of 5-11. 

The final game of the series set to be played on Saturday afternoon was rained out, leaving the ‘Runners without the opportunity to take a game in the series. The series sweep saw UTSA drop to 3-4 in conference play, leaving them fourth in Conference USA West. UTSA will stay home for their next series when they take on Middle Tennessee State (15-11-1). The first pitch of the series will occur on Friday, April 9, at 6 p.m., followed by a double header on Saturday and the series finale on Sunday. All games will be available to watch on CUSA.tv.