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Photo Credit: Jeff Huehn/UTSA Athletics

In just his first season as head coach, Jason Marshall has the UTSA baseball team back in the NCAA tournament following their incredible Western Athletic Conference (WAC) tournament run. With the UTSA Roadrunners (35-23, 15-11 WAC) joining Conference USA (CUSA) next season, UTSA leaves the WAC as champions in their one season playing in the conference.

The Roadrunners finished the regular season on a three-game wining steak, and then swept the WAC tournament against Sacramento State, San Jose State, CSU Bakersfield, and a Dallas Baptist team who was selected first overall in the preseason coaches poll. The ‘Runners now take a seven-game winning streak to the NCAA tournament.

“When you’ve lost for several years in your program, I think that’s the hardest or the toughest hurdle to get back over. You can go out and recruit all the talent in the world or find guys who can do all the baseball skills, but until they really mesh and believe as a group, you just keep treading water, you just keep being mediocre,” Marshal said after the final practice of the season at Roadrunner Field. “I think the guys just really started to believe that we had a good ball club and once we started to win some games I think that confidence just built upon itself.”

The ‘Runners hosted a ‘watch party’ on Monday, May 27 at Stonewerks Big Rock Grille at The Rim and found out from ESPNU’s NCAA tournament announcement show that UTSA will travel to Oregon to play in the Corvallis Regional which includes the Pac-12 champion Oregon Beavers (45-12, 24-6 Pac-12). The Beavers are ranked No.1 in the region while the Roadrunners are seeded fourth. The remainder of the region consists of No. 3 UC Santa Barbara (34-23, 17-10 Big West) and No. 2 Texas A&M (32-27, 13-16 SEC).

The Roadrunners opened the WAC tournament with a record 14-inning 3-2 victory when third baseman RJ Perucki hit a walk-off home run to beat Sacramento State on Wednesday, May 22. The following day, UTSA only needed eight innings to secure a 13-3 win over San Jose State, which included home runs from Perucki and Daniel Rockett who combined to drive in six of the teams 13 runs. The ‘Runners battled to a 1-0 win on Friday, May 24 against CSU Bakersfield behind UTSA pitcher’s Nolan Trabanino and Matt Simms’ combined three-hit shutout. In the tournament championship on Sunday, May 26, UTSA scored 11 runs in the final four innings and starter Brock Hartson pitched 7 1/3 innings to lead the Roadrunners to their fifth conference championship and first with Marshall as head coach.

“Coach Marshall has always told us championship teams get hot at the right time,” UTSA starting catcher John Bormann said. “I think we’re pretty hot right now.”

Hartson, Simms, Bormann, Perucki and Riley Good were all named to the WAC all-tournament team.

Should UTSA survive the first round double-elimination, the Roadrunners would move on to the NCAA Super Regionals and face the winner of the Manhattan Region in a three-game series.

Game 1 for UTSA begins on Friday, May 31, against Oregon at 5 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN 3’s website.

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