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UTSA breaks open tie game late, defeats Northwestern State on Friday night

Courtesy: UTSA Athletics Communications
Release: 10/29/2009
Courtesy UTSA Athletics Communications
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Senior Steven Vasquez, who won his third start in a row on Friday, retired 14 in a row from the third through eighth innings.
NATCHITOCHES, La. UTSA broke open a 3-all game with three runs in the eighth and four more in the ninth to defeat Northwestern State, 10-4, in Friday's opener of a three-game Southland Conference series at Brown-Stroud Field.

The Roadrunners won for the seventh time in their last 10 games to improve to 22-11 overall and 9-4 in SLC play. Texas State's 4-3 loss at Southeastern Louisiana pulled the two I-35 rivals into a first-place tie in the league's West Division. UTSA is now 4-1 on its current season-long nine-game road trip with two more contests remaining this weekend and a pair of non-conference tilts at Lamar next week. The Roadrunners also have won four of their five SLC series openers this year.

Senior right-hander Steven Vasquez (6-2) struck out six Demons in 7.2 strong innings to win his third start in a row. Vasquez surrendered four runs (one earned) on a half dozen hits and just one walk in the 109-pitch performance. Making his 43rd career start (t-No. 4 on UTSA's all-time list), the Beeville native retired 14 in a row from the third through eighth innings in posting his 19th all-time victory (t-No. 4 on UTSA's career list). He has posted a 1.09 ERA and fanned 22 in his last 24.2 innings, which covers four games.

Sophomore righty Zach Calhoon collected his seventh save of the year and extended his UTSA career mark to 13 with 1.1 scoreless innings to close out the victory.

Vasquez was backed with a pair runs before he even threw a pitch.

After taking the first two pitches of the game for strikes, junior shortstop James Keithley doubled to lead off the game to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 20 games, the longest by a Roadrunner since J.R. Voyles' school-record 23-gamer in 2006. Three batters later, senior first baseman Trent Lockwood launched his team-leading sixth home run over the right-field fence to put the Roadrunners up 2-0. It was the 20th bomb of the Groesbeck native's brief career and that ties him with Ryan Crew (2003-05) for seventh place on UTSA's all-time ledger.

A pair of Roadrunners' miscues led to three unearned runs in the second frame and that gave the Demons (17-14, 9-3 SLC) a one-run advantage.

UTSA tied the game at three two innings later. Junior center fielder Michael Rockett led off the frame with his team-leading 16th two-bagger of the year and heads-up base running by the Sugar Land native allowed him to score from second base on Lockwood's infield single off the glove of first baseman Mike Jaworski.

The Roadrunners broke up the tie in the eighth with three runs on four hits, a walk and a hit batter. Sophomore third baseman Ryan Rummel began the game-winning rally with a lead-off double just inside the left-field line. After freshman second baseman Ryan Hutson was hit by a pitch for the eighth time this season, Northwestern State starter Jimmy Heard lost grip of the ball when bluffing a pick off attempt to second base. That allowed Rummel and Hutson to move up a base and Keithley followed with a sacrifice fly to left field. Palincsar then unloaded on a full-count fastball from Heard to tie Lockwood for the team lead with six long balls and give the Roadrunners an insurmountable 6-3 lead.

After the Demons pulled with two in their half of the frame, UTSA put the game out of reach in the final inning with four-spot.

Lockwood led the 12-hit offensive assault with three hits and five RBIs. Meanwhile, Rockett had his team-leading fourth triple in addition to his fourth-inning double. Keithley and Rummel each had two hits and Palincsar brought home three runners on the night.

Heard (4-2) was tagged with the loss after giving up seven runs on nine hits in eight-plus innings. He struck out eight and walked just one in the 117-pitch outing.

Anthony Jones went 3-for-4 with a run scored to pace the Northwestern State offense.

The series continues at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Regining SLC Pitcher of the Week Bradley Chovanec looks to improve upon his SLC-leading 6-2 record when he toe the rubber for his eighth start of the campaign. The senior right-hander, who has tossed back-to-back complete games, brings a team-leading 3.30 ERA into the contest. He will be opposed by righty Heath Hennigan (2-2, 3.19 ERA).

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