Courtesy of Paisano Media

Courtesy of Paisano Media

Coming off of their historic win in Austin, the Roadrunners hosted Bradley University in a three-game series for their last home series before Conference USA play begins.

Karan Patel toed the rubber for UTSA on a chilly evening for game-one against Bradley ace Mitch Janssen. The ‘Runners weekend of errors began in the second inning with a dropped third strike throwing error by catcher Nick Thornquist. First baseman Connor O’Brien did not allow the scoring chance to go to waste by singling up the middle and scoring Eli Rawlinson to give Bradley a 1-0 lead in the top of the second. However, their lead did not last as UTSA answered back in the bottom half of the inning with a Dylan Rock lead-off triple and a sacrifice fly-ball from first baseman Taylor Barber tied the game 1-1 after two innings. UTSA forced Bradley early on into their bullpen and Janssen managed to go 3 2/3 innings before being pulled.

Relief pitcher Cole Cook was welcomed into the game with a double from designated hitter Bryan Struges and a single from Josh Lamb to put UTSA ahead 2-1 with four innings in the book. Patel was unhittable through 5 2/3 innings before giving way to the ‘Runners bullpen. Utility man Palmer Wenzel took over where Patel left off and kept Bradley off the board with the game tied at two until the seventh. Center fielder Jonathan Tapia led off the seventh inning with a walk that Bradley came to regret. Productive outs put Tapia in scoring position for captain Bryan Arias to sacrifice himself and allow the go-ahead run to score and take a 3-2 lead late in game one. Wenzel weaved his way into the ninth inning with the 3-2 lead and quickly got the first two outs. With the game in their grasp, Wenzel was one out away from giving the Roadrunners a one-game win until Bradley’s bats woke up. Shortstop Luke Shadid singled off Wenzel, setting up third basemen Brendan Dougherty for a game-tying double that deadlocked the game at 3-3 after nine innings. After a scoreless 10th inning, the top of the Bradley order came through for them once again with the help of another UTSA error. Nick McMurray led off the inning with a single and a stolen base, putting him in scoring position with no outs. Dougherty, with two strikes, hit a lazy fly-ball into right field where Rock camped out underneath it. The ball bounced off of Rock’s glove, allowing McMurray to score and take a decisive 3-2 lead. Pitcher Brian Schrimmer closed the door on the ‘Runners chances and gave Bradley the 3-2 victory in game one.

Head coach Jason Marshall turned to San Antonio product Connor Heffron to start game two. Bradley jumped on Heffron early with three hits and two walks to take a 3-0 lead. The one and only inning concluded Heffron’s day and allowed Jake Harrison to a most commanding performance. Harrison racked up a career-high 10 strike outs in a career-high five innings of work and allowed two hits to keep the ‘Runners within touching distance of Bradley. In the seventh inning, UTSA was down 3-2 and began a streak of three consecutive innings with runners in left scoring position. With all bases loaded, Tapia and Griffin Paxton hit fly balls to the shortstop, ending the inning. In the eighth, Rock doubled and was left on second base and in the ninth Chase Keng came off the bench and scorched a double into the outfield gap only to be thrown out; advancing from second to third, which ended any threat UTSA had to score. This gave Bradley a 3-2 win and clinching a series victory.

Down two games in the series, UTSA found their offensive stride again and salvaged a disappointing offensive weekend. An early hit-by-pitch allowed Tapia to score off a Paxton single for a 1-0 start for the Roadrunners. The errors that plagued UTSA had finally swung and started to affect Bradley in the fifth inning. Shadid misplayed a ground ball and allowed UTSA to lead off the inning with a base runner. Tapia’s double scored Barber home, adding to the Roadrunner lead. More mistakes inconvenienced Bradley in the sixth inning. Rock began the inning with a single, extending his hitting-streak to 12 games which then allowed Arias to take a walk and a double steal, putting them both at second and third with no outs. Bradley pitcher Ben Cilano balked in a run and sacrifice ground-ball, which spread UTSA’s lead to 4-0. Starting pitcher Slater Foust made his second consecutive quality start for the Roadrunners by blanking Bradley’s offense through seven innings. Fatigue showed itself in the eighth inning for Foust after a lead-off single and walk allowed two runners on and forced coach Marshall to turn to his bullpen. Marshall called upon Hunter Mason, the hero of UTSA’s upset win against the University of Texas, to get the necessary outs to close the game for the ‘Runners. Mason shook off an early bout of wild pitching and allowed two runners to score, holding the lead at 4-2. The Roadrunners scored three late runs to secure a 7-2 win in the series finale.

UTSA hosts rival Texas State Tuesday, March 5, before traveling to Auburn, Alabama for a three-game weekend series against SEC power Auburn.

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