A look at UTSA baseball’s amazing 2023 season and what it means going forward

Rylan Renteria, Staff Writer

With the 2023 regular season ending, now is a great time to look back on all that the UTSA baseball squad has accomplished, as well as look ahead to what is coming. As of right now, the Roadrunners are 28-9 overall and 12-2 in conference play, good enough to put them atop the C-USA standings. 

When the season began, a lot of returning players had a chip on their shoulder from the previous season where despite going on an excellent run at the end of the season, they did not receive a bid for the NCAA tournament. 

“We talk about it all the time, we definitely have a chip on our shoulder, and we remember that feeling every game matters for us,” starting pitcher Luke Malone said. 

When asked about what has led to the Roadrunners’ success this season, every player and coach echoed the same sentiment — improved pitching. “Our pitching this year has been fantastic,” Leyton Barry said. “That’s the reason we are where we are.” 

UTSA’s rotation consists of guys like Malone, Simon Miller, Ruger Riojas and Ulises Quiroga, who are all high-quality pitchers. Miller, in particular, is the No. 9 ranked reliever in the country and boasts a 1.28 ERA. The strength of the UTSA pitchers is a key part of their success because, in games decided by two or fewer runs, the Roadrunners are 9-5. When UTSA takes the lead late in the game, they have a group of guys they can rely on to close the game out. 

When it comes to being a complete team, you must be good at all aspects of the game. UTSA’s hitting has been just as dominant as their pitching. The Roadrunners currently have eight players with a batting average of .300 or higher. While returning stars such as Barry and Shane Sirdashney have been great, UTSA has received a boost from newcomers like Antonio Valdez and Taylor Smith. Valdez is leading the team in every major batting category except home runs, which Smith leads. Both of them played under Pat Hallmark at UIW and jumped at the opportunity to play for him again when both entered the portal following the 2022 season. 

As it currently stands, UTSA is ranked by four polls. No. 25 by D1 Baseball, No. 22 by Baseball America, No. 25 by CB Newspaper and No. 28 by National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. “There’s a lot of excitement in the locker room about it, but it’s not the end all be all,” Malone said. “We just got to keep winning.” The team seems to share the belief that the ranking is just a bonus to playing the game right and winning games. “It means a lot, but at the end of the day, we just want to win games,” reliever Simon Miller said.

While the players and coaches are rightfully focused on continuing the team’s success this season. “What we did last year and what we’re doing this year is great, but I don’t know how sustainable it is in the field of D1 recruiting without a stadium and a field,” said coach Pat Hallmark. When asked about how often he has conversations about a new stadium and upgraded facilities with Athletic Director Lisa Campos, Hallmark said, “Not enough.” 

Whether these changes ever come to fruition remains to be seen. As for now, coach Hallmark and the players are just focused on making this already historic season even better. UTSA’s next opponent is the FIU Panthers. Game one of their three-game road series is at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, April 21, at FIU Baseball Stadium.