UTSA splits Saturday twinbill with UT Arlington, earns WAC Tournament berth with victory in nightcap
SAN ANTONIO — Jolene Graham went 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs to help UTSA clinch a berth in next week's Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Tournament with a 4-2 victory against UT Arlington in the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader. The Mavericks won the opener by a score of 6-4 and they also earned a postseason berth when Seattle lost to Louisiana Tech.
The Roadrunners (26-24) finished their lone WAC campaign with at 9-12 mark in league action. UTSA will enter next week's event in Ruston, La., as the No. 5 seed and face fourth-seeded Texas State (16-36, 10-11 WAC) at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The Birds opened conference play with their first sweep of the Bobcats since the 1986 campaign.
Haylee Staton (14-9) struck out seven in going the distance in the nightcap.
Meanwhile, Graham finished the day 4-for-7 at the plate and Megan Low drove in four runs to push her team-leading total to a career-high 31 for the season.
UT Arlington (24-26, 8-13 WAC) got four hits and four RBIs from Meagan Michele on the day and Teri Lyles added a pair of hits and RBIs to go along with a save in the first game of the day.
The Mavs wasted no time in gaining the upper hand in the opener after scoring two runs off Alyssa Vordenbaum in the first inning.
Graham helped the home squad cut that deficit in half by scoring on Samantha Beeson’s groundout. The Sutter, Calif., native opened the inning with her fifth double of the campaign and moved up 60 feet on Victoria Birdwell’s sacrifice bunt.
However, UTA plated four runs in the third to chase Vordenbaum from the contest and take control.
Low lifted a sacrifice fly to right field in the bottom half of the inning that sent Darian Blake plateward and the Birds added two runs in the fifth on Low’s double to pull to within 6-4. However, Lyles, who relieved starter Callie Collins, worked around two hits in the seventh for her first save of the season.
Collins (4-14) surrendered four runs (two earned) on four hits in 4.2 innings, while Vordenbaum (9-11) was charged with with four runs on five hits in two-plus frames of work.
UTSA jumped out to an early lead in its regular season finale with two runs in the first.
Blake started the stanza with an infield single and came around to score on Low’s double to left center. Graham followed with a hit down the left-field line that just stayed fair for the 2-0 lead.
The Roadrunners pushed the lead to three an inning later when Birdwell touched home on Paige Hamilton’s single to right. Birdwell opened the frame with an infield single and moved to scoring position on Vivian Tijerina’s sacrifice bunt.
UT Arlington ended the shutout and pulled to within 3-2 in the third on Michele’s two-run homer to right center. Blake tracked down the line drive in the gap and nearly robbed Michele of her sixth long ball of the season, but she was unable to keep the ball in play after slamming into the fence.
Graham got one of those runs back and provided the final margin by taking the first pitch in the bottom of the frame over the fence in left for her third round-tripper of the campaign.
That wa enough for Staton, who allowed just two hits the rest of the way en route to her 14th victory of the spring.
Collins (4-15) lasted just 1.1 innings and allowed three runs on five hits.