Baseball rides explosive offense to season-opening series win over Tarleton State


Julia Maenius

Ian Bailey squares up a pitch during a game last season. Fresh off a senior season where he hit .270 with six home runs and 21 runs batted in, Bailey got his season off to a great start, hitting .500 with a home run and five runs batted in against Tarleton State.

Ryder Martin, Sports Editor

The UTSA Roadrunners (2-1) threw out the first pitch of their season this past weekend with a three-game series from Feb. 18-20, against the Tarleton State Texans (1-2). The ‘Runners used a pair of dominant offensive performances to pick up the first two games of the series. The team’s fortune reversed, however, in the series finale and they were denied the series sweep by a resilient Texans squad.   

The two teams squared off in the first game of the season on Friday evening and Jacob Jimenez (1-0, 0.00 ERA) earned the start on the mound for UTSA. The two teams were tied scoreless after the first inning, but UTSA’s Ryan Flores changed that in a hurry. The first baseman led off the top of the second with a solo home run to right field to give UTSA the early 1-0 edge and the ‘Runners never looked back from there. The team put up four more runs in the fourth inning, three of which came off a monster home run from shortstop Kody Darcy and then added two more in the fifth on a Leyton Barry double to take a 7-0 lead after five. Jimenez ended his day of work on the mound after five innings and was sterling in his effort. He finished with five innings pitched, two hits, two walks and struck out five. 

Tarleton finally got on the board in the sixth inning with two of their own to shrink the lead to 7-2, but the ‘Runners responded in the seventh to put the game completely out of reach. The ‘Runners sent 16 men to the plate and scored 11 runs on nine hits to take an 18-2 lead and all but sealed the game. A three-run homer by Chase Keng in the eighth inning punctuated the evening for the ‘Runners, and despite a few runs by Tarleton State in the eighth, UTSA cruised to their first win of the season by a final score of 21-5.

In game two of the series, the ‘Runners used a big offensive performance early in the game to seize the lead and control of the game. Texan starting pitcher Kyler Mentzel, (0-1, 54.00 ERA) struggled with control issues early and was pulled after allowing four runs on two hits and four walks in just two-thirds of an inning. UTSA used this sloppy first inning to jump out to a 4-0 lead and then added two more in the second to take a 6-0 lead. Tarleton responded in the bottom of the second, however. The Texans tagged UTSA starter Grant Miller (0-0, 18.00 ERA) for four runs in the inning, but Miller escaped trouble by getting out of the inning with runners left on base, thanks to a batter’s interference call to keep UTSA staked to a 6-4 lead. This did mean the end of Miller’s day and he exited the game with two innings pitched, four hits, three walks, four earned runs and two strikeouts. In the top of the third, however, UTSA responded to lengthen the lead back out. A two RBI double by Jonathan Tapia served as the major event of the inning as the ‘Runners put up four more runs to take a 10-4 lead.  

Ulises Quiroga (1-0, 3.00 ERA) relieved Miller on the mound and settled things down nicely for the ‘Runners. He allowed just one run and four hits in three innings of work to rob the Texans of the time they needed to mount a comeback. Tarleton got a run in the fifth, but UTSA responded with one of their own in the seventh to keep the lead at six. In the eighth inning, Tarleton cut the lead in half with three runs, but Reece Easterling (0-0, 0.00) was brought on to stop the momentum and he did just that, striking out the last two batters he faced in the inning to limit the damage. An Ian Bailey sacrifice fly in the ninth added an insurance run for UTSA and then Easterling worked a 1-2-3 inning to close things out for a 12-8 UTSA victory and the series win.
In the series finale, the UTSA offense suffered a reversal of fortunes alongside their pitching staff. UTSA starting pitcher Braylon Owens (0-1, 99.00 ERA) lasted just a third of an inning while giving up five hits, one walk, seven runs, five earned and striking nobody out. The Texans jumped all over Owens in the first inning to take a commanding 0-8 lead after the first. They added another run in both the second and the third while the UTSA offense struggled. After two days of dominant production, the UTSA offense largely fizzled in the series finale. They left the bases loaded in the third inning and the makings of a rally were cut short in the fifth on a double play, albeit one that did score the ‘Runners’ lone run of the ball game. The Texans tacked on two more runs before the game was called after seven, handing Tarleton State a 1-12 win in the series finale. 

To start this week, the team will remain out on the road and travel to Fort Worth on Feb. 23, for a single game matchup against TCU (2-1). Afterward, they will throw out the first pitch of their home opener with a four-game series against the Seattle Redhawks (1-3) in San Antonio from Feb. 25-27. The series against the Redhawks will be available to stream on