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Rockett leads Roadrunners past Lumberjacks in 12-10 thriller on Saturday

Courtesy: UTSA Athletics Communications
Release: 10/29/2009
Courtesy UTSA Athletics Communications
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Junior Michael Rockett's (left) leaping catch gave sophomore Zach Calhoon his ninth save of the year, which is a new UTSA single season record.
SAN ANTONIO Junior center fielder Michael Rockett made a leaping, over-the-shoulder catch with two outs in the ninth and the tying runs on second and third base and UTSA held on for a thrilling 12-10 victory against Stephen F. Austin on Saturday afternoon at Roadrunner Field. His highlight-reel grab gave sophomore closer Zach Calhoon his ninth save of the year, which is a new Roadrunners' single-season record.

Rockett also went 4-for-5 at the plate with a double, a two-run home run and three RBIs, as UTSA won for the ninth time in its last 11 contests in improving to 27-12 overall and 13-4 in league play. The Roadrunners maintained their one-game lead atop the Southland Conference standings, as Texas State posted a 16-6 victory against Central Arkansas on Saturday.

"I got a good jump, so I thought I had a chance," Rockett said after the game. "I just stuck my glove out and hoped for the best. When I hit the ground, I saw the ball was in the pocket of my glove and I was the happiest guy on the field. This was a big win for us today and, hopefully, it carries over to tomorrow."

Calhoon, who was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writer's Association's Stopper of the Year midseason watch list on Thursday, was a bit shaky in his 17th appearance of the year. The right-hander struck out five over the final 2.2 innings but allowed two ninth-inning runs before collecting the 15th save of his two-year career, extending the program's all-time mark. He ranks among the top 10 closers nationally with his nine saves.

After the Lumberjacks (14-23, 3-13 SLC) pulled within one with two runs in the fifth, the Roadrunners appeared to put things on ice in the bottom of the frame when sophomore Ryan Rummel launched the team's third grand slam of the year to push UTSA's lead to 11-6.

However, Stephen F. Austin continued to chip away with another pair in the seventh to bring it within three at 11-8. Calhoon, who entered the game with one out and runners on second and third in the stanza, hit Matt Whatley with a 1-1 pitch to load the bases, but he then fanned Zach Gardner and Gabe Garcia-Serrano to end the threat.

A Rockett two-out, run-scoring single to right center gave the Roadrunners a very important insurance run in the eighth and they needed every bit of their cushion heading into the final stanza.

Kevin Croft stroked a leadoff single to left and he was replaced by pinch runner Jeff Brewer. Justin Roland then drew a walk and Whatley followed with an RBI single down the left-field line and Roland and Whatley moved up a base on left fielder Phillip Allen's throw to the plate. Calhoon punched out Gardner for the first out of the inning, but a walk to pinch hitter Brian Ferguson loaded the bases. The Roadrunners closer then struck out Kai Kirby on three pitches for the second out, but his first offering to Noel Trevino was in the dirt and it got past senior catcher Zach Etheredge, allowing Roland to cross the plate with the Lumberjacks' 10th run of the day. Two pitches later, Trevino hit a laser into the right-center-field gap and Rockett somehow came up with it for the final out of the game.

Senior right-hander Mark Ruffin (2-1) surrendered a pair of runs on three hits and fanned three in 2.1 innings in relief of starter Bradley Chovanec to pick up the victory. Chovanec, who was staked to a 7-4 lead entering the fifth, allowed a leadoff double to Trevino and RBI single to Kevin Crabtree before being replaced by Ruffin. He struck out four but was charged with six runs on nine hits in his ninth start of the season.

The wild game featured a combined 30 hits, 13 of which went for extra bases (10 doubles, three homers), and 17 of the 18 starters on offense had at least one base knock on the afternoon.

Freshman right fielder Tyler Carpenter, Etheredge and Rummel each had two hits and junior shortstop James Keithley extended his school-record hitting streak to 26 games with his third-inning single to left. Carpenter hit the first long ball of his career, a solo shot to lead off the second, and also drove in a pair of runs.

The Roadrunners recorded double-digit runs for the 14th time this season and now own a 13-1 record in those contests.

Stephen F. Austin starter Erich Lehmann (1-5) gave up six runs on eight hits and walked two in taking the loss. Kevin Thomas went the final five frames, allowing a half dozen runs on seven hits.

An RBI double by senior first baseman Trent Lockwood gave UTSA a 1-0 lead in the first, but the Lumberjacks responded with two runs on a pair of doubles and a single the next inning.

SFA, losers of a season-high six games in a row, retook the lead in the third with two more tallies on four hits, but the Roadrunners responded with two of their own to tie the game at four.

A run-scoring ground out by sophomore designated hitter Tim Palincsar and a two-run homer by Rockett, his fourth of the year, pushed the edge to 7-4 in the fourth.

UTSA will go for it conference second sweep in a row and third of the season at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Junior left-hander Kris Ruepke (3-2, 6.43 ERA) will go up against SFA southpaw Lance Luetge (4-5, 4.50 ERA).

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