Roadrunners open UTSA Classic play with pair of victories
SAN ANTONIO — Vivian Tijerina hit two homers and drove home six runs to help UTSA defeat Missouri State and Iowa State by scores of 8-4 and 7-4, respectively, on Friday at the UTSA Classic presented by Alamo Area Mutual Housing Association, which is being played this weekend at Roadrunner Field.
The Atascosa native notched her second consecutive multi-homer game and drove in four runs in the opener, before going 1-for-3 with a pair of RBIs in the nightcap.
The Roadrunners (3-2) got victories from Haylee Staton and Alyssa Vordenbaum in the circle. The pair each grabbed their first win of the season and Vordenbaum saved the victory against the Bears.
Game #1: UTSA 8, Missouri State 4
UTSA scored three runs in the fourth and four more in the fifth to break a 1-1 tie before holding off a late Missouri State rally for an 8-4 victory.
After back-to-back doubles gave the Bears (2-5) a 1-0 lead, Tijerina knotted the score in the bottom half of the inning with a solo homer to left.
The sophomore struck again in the fourth, this time with a three-run blast to right center, that put the Roadrunners ahead for good.
Megan Low and Victoria Birdwell reached base with hits up the middle and through the left side, respectively, before Tijerina trotted around the bases for the fourth time in her last five plate appearances.
The UTSA offense continued to roll in the fifth when the Birds put up a four-spot, which gave them what appeared to be a safe 8-1 advantage.
Alexis Ramirez, who went 3-for-4 in the contest, started the frame with a triple to center. Darian Blake then followed with a bunt single and the Katy native advanced to second after seeing no one covering the bag. A walk to Courtney Buchman chased starter Jessie Van Es from the contest and reliever Chelsea Jones walked in a run, which gave the Roadrunners a 5-1 edge.
Graham picked up an RBI with a single through the left side and a Birdwell groundout allowed Buchman to touch home. Later in the frame, pinch hitter Jori Fox provided UTSA’s final run with a single up the middle to plate Graham.
However, Missouri State got a run back in the sixth on a pinch-hit double from Ali Trickey and it trailed 8-3 heading to the seventh.
Following a groundout, the Bears loaded the bases with a walk and a pair of hits before another free pass plated a run. Heather Duckworth drove home Caitlin Chapin with a single to right that ended Staton’s night in the circle.
Vordenbaum was called in from the bullpen and she got an out at home after fielding a grounder in the circle, but the bases remained loaded with two outs. The senior earned the save after Lauren Eisenreich was called out when she left first base early on a pitch.
Staton’s (1-1) struck out six strikeouts in her 6.1 innings, while Van Es (0-3) surrendered seven runs and nine hits in her four frames of work.
Game #2: UTSA 7, Iowa State 4
The Roadrunners scored seven runs in the opening inning and made their lead stand in a 7-4 victory against Iowa State in the nightcap.
Jorden Spendlove plated a run for the Cyclones (5-2) in the top of the first, but UTSA (3-2) promptly responded with its big inning.
Ramirez led off with a walk and the San Marcos, Calif., native then stole second and moved to third on Blake’s sacrifice bunt. She then touched home when Buchman singled to left field to tie the score at one. A pair of walks loaded the bases and quickly ended Riley Fisher’s night in the circle in favor of Taylor Smith.
Birdwell greeted the new pitcher with an RBI single up the middle and Cosette Hernandez picked up an RBI on a walk for a 3-1 lead. Tijerina continued the frame with a two-run single to center, while Paige Hamilton’s two-run base hit pushed the advantage to 7-1.
However, that proved to be all for UTSA.
Iowa State scored twice in the second and once more in the sixth to draw to within three at 7-4.
After taking over for Vordenbaum in the circle to start the sixth, Graham took a three-run lead to the seventh and, following a leadoff hit, retired the next three batters to end the game.
Vordenbaum (1-1) allowed just one run on seven hits in five innings for the fifth win of her career, while Graham gave up an earned run and struck out a pair in two frames out of the bullpen.
Fisher (1-1) allowing four runs and walked three in just one-third of an inning.
The Roadrunners will look to stay unbeaten in tournament play on Saturday when they face Rutgers (0-2) at 4:30 p.m. and Boise State (3-4) two-and-a-half hours later.