UTSA baseball set for 2022 season, return with mix of old and new


Julia Maenius

Reece Easterling prepares to deliver his pitch during a game last season. Easterling returns as a graduate student this season after going 1-0 with 5.65 ERA the year prior.

Ryder Martin, Sports Editor

The UTSA Roadrunners are all set for the 2022 season, throwing out their first pitch on Friday, Feb. 18. One season after finishing 22-26 overall and 14-17 in conference play, Pat Hallmark returns at the helm for his third season as the head coach of the ‘Runners, and brings along with him a team that’s a mix of mainstays from last year’s team as well as some new and intriguing additions to the lineup. 

Last year’s team ranked ninth in the nation in runs per game but will have to replace some key pieces in the lineup. The ‘Runners will have to replace the production they received at the top of their lineup after the departures of Griffin Paxton, Nick Thornquist, Dylan Rock and Joshua Lamb, who led the ‘Runners in almost every major offensive category in some order last season. The ‘Runners do return some experience on the offensive end, though, starting with Chase Keng the power hitting outfielder who returns for his senior season one year after hitting .301 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs. Jonathan Tapia also returns for the ‘Runners after being a presence nearly everyday in the starting lineup for UTSA a season ago, while hitting .295 with eight doubles and 24 RBIs. 

Two players that will be asked to step up in a big way for UTSA are junior infielder Leyton Barry and redshirt sophomore catcher Josh Killeen. Barry appears primed for an everyday role in the starting lineup after hitting .382 with four home runs and 27 RBIs in 31 games played. Killeen, who hit .292 in very limited game action last season, will now slide into the everyday catcher role after the departure of Thornquist.

The main reason why UTSA finished with a losing record last season, despite possessing the ninth best offense in the nation, can be traced back to the pitching staff. The team finished last year with an earned run average of 5.93, placing them 198th in the nation, and chronically failed to hold onto leads late in ball games. The good news for UTSA, however, is that a number of their workhorses from last year, Luke Malone, Simon Miller and John Chomko, were underclassmen, and with another year under their belt, should see improved results this upcoming season. In addition, the staff does return a couple of more experienced arms in the form of Grant Miller, Reece Easterling and Jacob Jimenez. With the batting order going through a major revamp this season, the pitching staff will need to improve if the ‘Runners are going to see any overall improvement. 

The team will start their season off with a series on the road in Stephenville from Feb. 18-20 against Tarleton State. Notable other games in non-conference play include a trip to Fort Worth for a clash against TCU on Feb. 23, a home game against Stanford on Feb. 28, a matchup against Hallmark’s former employer and crosstown rival UIW at home on March 8, a series in Norman, Okla., against the Oklahoma Sooners from March 11-13 and a road clash against Baylor on March 22. Conference play begins for the ‘Runners with a series at home against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs from March 18-20. The conference tournament is currently slated to begin on May 25, in Hattiesburg, Miss.