Tijerina powers UTSA to first win of spring on Sunday, 7-3
BEAUMONT — Vivian Tijerina went 2-for-3 with two home runs and three RBIs, while Courtney Buchman drove in three more to help UTSA defeat Lamar, 7-3, in the series finale on Sunday afternoon at Ford Park.
The blasts were the first of the Tijerina’s career and gave the Roadrunners (1-2) their first multi-homer game from an individual since Jori Fox hit a pair in an April 22, 2011, win over Nicholls. Along with Tijerina, Alexis Ramirez (2-for-4) and Victoria Birdwell (2-for-2) finished with two hits apiece.
In the circle, reliever Jolene Graham picked up her first victory at UTSA with five no-hit innings. The Sutter, Calif., native allowed four walks and struck out two to keep Lamar off the scoreboard.
Meanwhile, Ashley McDowell finished 1-for-2 and picked up two RBIs on her second homer of the weekend for the Lady Cardinals (2-1).
UTSA used its speed to get on the board early and grabbed a lead for the first time in the series with a run in the top of the first.
Ramirez led off the game with a single to left field and stole second. She then moved to third on a sacrifice bunt from Darian Blake before touching home on Buchman’s groundout.
However, McDowell erased the deficit and put the home squad ahead with a two-run shot to right center in the bottom of the frame. Leadoff hitter Casey Cromwell reached after being hit by a pitch and stole second before trotting home on McDowell’s blast.
The Roadrunners jumped ahead in the second when Tijerina connected on the first of her homers. Siera Sproul started the panel with a walk and moved to second on Paige Hamilton’s sacrifice bunt. Tijerina then took Ashley Rey’s pitch over the wall for her first homer in 10 games with UTSA and the Roadrunners would not trail again.
The Lady Cardinals chased starter Haylee Staton from the game with a run in the third to tie the score, but UTSA blew the game open with a three-run fourth.
A one-out single to left by Cosette Hernandez got the offense started and Ramirez was able to reach base on an error by McDowell. A fielder’s choice provided reliever Melissa Smith with the second out of the inning, but Buchman plated Ramirez and Blake with a double to center for a 5-3 lead.
The advantage continued to grow when, after an intentional walk to Megan Low, Graham helped her own cause with a run-scoring single to center.
After Graham sat down the Lady Cardinals in order in the bottom of the frame, Tijerina connected on her second homer of the day, this time to left center, that provided Graham with a four-run cushion.
Graham was able to escape a jam in the fifth and then retired six of the next seven batters she faced to close out the Roadrunners’ first win of the 2013 campaign.
Smith (0-1) took the loss for Lamar after allowing three unearned runs in two innings of work.
The Roadrunners will be back in action at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15, when it opens play at the UTSA Classic presented by Alamo Area Mutual Housing Association against Missouri State (1-4).