UTSA takes down East Carolina on Thursday night, 8-3
HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Jason Marshall said that his Roadrunners have had issues scoring runs of late. For at least one night, his team had no such problem.
No. 7 seed UTSA (34-24) put up runs in each of the first three innings on Thursday night and cruised to an 8-3 victory against sixth-seeded East Carolina (33-25) in a winners’ bracket game at the 2014 Conference USA Tournament. It was the fourth meeting between the two teams in the last eight days.
The Roadrunners, who cranked out 12 hits and had at least one baserunner in each of the first eight innings, got two runs in the first inning, three more in the second and another in the third and never looked back.
“Like I said last night, it’s been a month since we’ve seen hits like that, where we stayed above the baseball and stayed with a line-drive approach,” Marshall said. “It was fun to watch the hitters get off to a good start and let us relax and breathe a little bit.”
As impressive as the offensive onslaught, was the second commanding pitching performance by a UTSA starter.
Sophomore left-hander Nolan Trabanino (9-3) allowed three runs (one earned) on four hits in a career-best eight innings. He walked three and struck a career-high eight.
In two tournament games, Roadrunners starting pitching has allowed one earned run and six hits in 16.1 innings with just four walks and 20 strikeouts.
“Nolan had four pitches going,” Marshall said. “That was probably his best outing of the season and it’s fun to kind of watch these guys peak at the right time of the year.”
UTSA now will take Friday off while awaiting the winner of an elimination game between the Pirates and No. 3 seed and tournament host Southern Mississippi (33-24).
“We won’t take Southern Miss or East Carolina lightly,” Marshall said. “They both beat us in our series with them, but it’s fun to get second chances at teams that took you down. We’re just playing with a chip on our shoulder and trying to earn some respect in Conference USA because this is our first go-around in this tournament.”
The barrage began from the beginning with right fielder John Welborn and shortstop Horacio Correa III singling to start the game of ECU right-hander Tyler Bolton (2-5). Welborn scored on an error and Correa came home on a fielder’s choice to get the Roadrunners on the board early.
UTSA knocked Bolton from the game after he allowed consecutive singles to left fielder Logan Kinder and second baseman C.J. Pickering to open the second. After Pickering knocked in Kinder, he scored on a triple by Welborn, who scored one out later on a single by first baseman Mike Warren for a 5-0 lead.
Pickering added an RBI double in the third inning for 6-0 lead and the Roadrunners tacked on two more in the sixth inning on Warren’s triple and an error.
East Carolina made it 6-1 in the third on designated hitter Drew Reynolds’ sacrifice fly and it added two more runs in the eighth on a ground out by third baseman Zach Houchins and sacrifice fly by outfielder Dylan Brown.