SAN ANTONIO – Despite belting out 16 hits including home runs by Todd Sebek and Nick Zaleski, the UTSA Roadrunners battled back to edge Sam Houston State 12-10 in the first contest in a three game weekend series Friday night at Roadrunner Field.
Down 10-9, Texas-San Antonio scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning for the victory. Tim Palincsar tied the contest with a two-run double, the Michael Rocket brought in the winning run with an RBI single.
With runners on first and second and two down in the bottom of the eighth, Palinscar lined a 3-1 pitch from Zac Baker into the gap in right center field to plate freshman Ryan Rummel, who doubled, and freshman Ryan Hutson, who walked, with the game-tying and winning runs.
Junior Michael Rockett followed with a single to right center to plate Palinscar with an insurance run, and sophomore closer Zach Calhoon worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 10th save of the season, as the Roadrunners, 30-12 overall, maintained their hold on first place in the Southland Conference at 15-4. The Bearkats fell to 26-16 and 12-7.
UTSA, leaders of the Southland Conference West Division, upped their season record to 30-12 and now stand 15-4 in league play. Sam Houston State dropped to 26-16 for the year and 12-7 in SLC action.
The three runs were the only scoring for either team in the final three frames in what started out as a slug fest.
Bobby Verbick gave Sam Houston a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on an RBI single up the middle that plated Keith Stein, who walked. UTSA knotted the score at 1-1 in the second on a sacrifice fly to left field by Rummel.
The Bearkats plated a pair of runs in the third on a solo homer by Todd Sebek and a sac fly by Seth Hammock.
UTSA responded in a big way in the bottom of the frame, as senior Trent Lockwood unleashed a monster, three-run home run, his 11th of the year, to right field to plate junior James Keithley and Rockett, who both reached on singles, and give the Roadrunners a 4-3 advantage.
In the back-and-forth contest, Stein’s two-out, two-run triple down the left field line put the Bearkats back on top in the fourth, 5-4.
The Roadrunners answered with a four-run frame in the bottom half of the inning. Keithley doubled home Hutson to tie the score at 5-5, and then came home on a Palinscar single to right center. Rockett then launched a towering, two-run blast to left to put UTSA up, 8-5.
In staying with the evening’s theme, the Bearkats pushed across four in their next at-bat, highlighted by a three-run homer by Nick Zaleski. Sam Houston tacked on a run in the sixth on a single by Jaime Rohlmeier. A solo homer by Rummel pulled UTSA back within 10-9 after six frames.
Palinscar and Rockett both registered three hits and three RBIs, while Rummel also had three hits and a pair of RBIs. Keithley recorded two base hits, his 39th game with at least one base hit this season, as UTSA pounded out 13 base hits off a pair of Sam Houston pitchers.
Senior Mark Ruffin (3-1) tossed two and one-thirds scoreless innings, striking out two and allowing just one hit and one walk in earning the win. Calhoon worked the perfect ninth for his 10th save of the year and 16th of his career, both school records.
Baker (1-1) was charged with the loss, allowing three runs on three hits in three innings of relief for starter Ryan Tepera, who was roughed up for nine earned runs on 10 hits in five innings.
Rohlmeier led Sam Houston with three hits, while Zaleski drove in a team-high three runs, as nine different Bearkats combined for 16 hits.
Sam Houston State and UTSA meet in the second game of the series Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.