On Friday, Mar. 2, the Roadrunners’ baseball team hosted the Big 12’s Kansas Jayhawks in their first game of the weekend’s UTSA Classic. It was the first time in four years UTSA hosted this tournament, which also featured two other teams from other conferences: the undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs from the West Coast Conference and the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns from the Sunbelt Conference.
All the games for the UTSA Classic were played at Wolff Stadium, the home stadium for the San Antonio Missions—the Double-A affiliate for the San Diego Padres.
The out-of-conference competition provided valuable experience for the Roadrunners as they prepare for the conference season.
“From the hitting standpoint, you’re going to see arms that you don’t see in conference, and you’re facing hitters that you don’t see in conference,” pitcher Casey Selsor said. “It’s great to face teams that you normally don’t get to, and it’s always fun to have a new challenge in front of you.”
The Roadrunners’ offense didn’t waste any time starting as the first three UTSA batters all hit singles.Center fielder Daniel Rockett drove in two runs with a ground rule double hit to right field. Designated hitter Mike Warren drove in two more runs with one swing before he was tagged out at second. The first inning concluded with a four run lead for the Runners.
The Runners and Jayhawks stayed at stalemate through the next six innings until second baseman Horacio Correa III blasted a line drive to right center field to wake up the Roadrunner offense again in the bottom of the seventh inning. Left fielder Riley Good continued to be effective at the plate, as his single drove in Correa for another score for the Runners, giving them a 5-0 advantage.
The Jayhawks finally got on the scoreboard when designated hitter Chris Manship ended the Runners’ shutout hopes by driving in teammate Jake Marasco. The Jayhawks’ bats started to show signs of life in the top of the eighth inning with four hits, but the Runners kept the damage to a minimum, allowing only one run in the inning, and a score of 5-1.
The Runners struck again when shortstop RJ Perucki hit a single to drive in catcher Colby Braddock for another UTSA score. Perucki also stayed alert on the basepaths and stole second base. Right fielder John Welborn kept the scoring rally alive for UTSA with a single right up the middle of the infield and allowed Perucki to cross the plate for UTSA’s seventh run.
Kansas’ batters stayed alive in the ninth inning despite the score. Right fielder Tucker Tharp reached first base on a single and stole second on a wild pitch. With his teammate in scoring position, Jayhawks third baseman Zac Elgie powered a line drive double down the third base line and allowed Tharp to score for Kansas.
Marasco reached first base again with his second hit of the night, and Manship drove in both Jayhawk base runners with a nearly 400-foot fly ball to center field that allowed him to get to second base. However, The late Kansas rally fell short and the Runners left-handed pitcher Casey Selsor improved to 3-0.
Selsor was very accurate in his longest performance of the season this far, pitching 16 first-pitch strikes in the matchup.
Welborn finished with a very remarkable hitting night for the Runners, successfully reaching base in four out of five appearances with one RBI. Good had another great offensive night, ending with two hits and one RBI. Good has become an anchor for UTSA’s offense in the very early part of this season.
Head baseball coach Sherman Corbett credited the great start to the experience these players gained last year.
“They have been through the wars here, and I think the way we finished last year, we finished strong,” Corbett said. “They have confidence out there.”
The returning players-six position players and seven pitchers-have also displayed leadership off the field that has guided this new UTSA squad in the winning direction.
“Casey Selsor and the seniors are making sure the guys are focused in,” Corbett said. “Whether it’s on the field or in the weight room, a lot of that is attributed to the senior leadership that we’ve had, teaching the young guys the right way to do things.”
In other action over the weekend, the Runners lost to Gonzaga, 4-1, on Saturday but defeated Louisiana-Lafeyette, 5-2, on Sunday. Gonzaga won over Louisiana-Lafeyette, 6-1, on Friday, and Kansas, 7-2, on Sunday. Lafeyette beat Kansas, 8-6, on Saturday.
The Runners’ record on the year after the weekend is 8-4.