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UTSA salvages final game of A&M-Corpus Christi series with 11-2 victory

Courtesy: UTSA Athletics Communications
Release: 10/29/2009
Courtesy UTSA Athletics Communications
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Junior Kris Ruepke won his fourth consecutive decision on Sunday.
ROBSTOWN Junior left-hander Kris Ruepke went eight strong innings for his fourth win in a row and UTSA ended its first two-game losing streak in six weeks with an 11-2 victory at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Sunday at Fairgrounds Field.

Ruepke (5-2) gave up just a pair of runs on 11 singles and a walk and struck three in the 102-pitch performance. The Adel, Iowa, native retired eight of the final 10 hitters he faced and has not lost a decision since March 17 against No. 10 Texas. Since entering the weekend rotation three weeks ago, he is a perfect 3-0 with a 2.14 ERA, two complete games and a shutout.

The Roadrunners, now 34-14 overall and an Southland Conference-leading 18-6 in league play, remained three games ahead of Sam Houston State in the SLC West Division standings and two in front of Lamar, in the race for the league's regular season championship. The Bearkats defeated Northwestern State, 7-5, on Sunday and the Cardinals dealt Southeastern Louisiana a 5-4 setback in 11 innings.

UTSA scored first for the third game in a row and made it stand for the first time this weekend.

After sophomore designated hitter Tim Palincsar lined an infield single off the glove of Islanders starter Justin Grota with one out in the first, senior first baseman Trent Lockwood stroked an RBI double down the right-field line two batters later to give the Birds an early 1-0 advantage,

Grota then settled down and retired the next 11 hitters he faced. Unfortunately for him, Ruepke was able to keep Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at bay despite allowing seven base hits during that same span.

The Roadrunners increased the edge to two with an unearned run in the fifth and the Islanders fell apart defensively one inning later, committing three errors, which allowed UTSA to plate four runs without registering a hit.

A&M-Corpus Christi finally broke through in the bottom of the sixth with a pair of tallies, but that would be all it would get the rest of the way, as Ruepke and sophomore closer Zach Calhoon combined to retire nine of the final 12 hitters over the final three frames.

UTSA tacked on five insurance runs on seven hits in the seventh to put the game on ice.

Senior catcher Zach Etheredge led three Roadrunners with two hits with a single, double and three RBIs. Lockwood also had two safeties and Palincsar added a triple to go along with his first-inning infield single and he scored three times.

Grota (1-1) was the hard-luck loser, as he allowed four runs (one earned) on three hits and a walk in five-plus innings.

Bryan Gerondale led the Islanders with three hits and an RBI.

UTSA returns to action on Friday when it opens a Southland Conference series at Roadrunner Field against Nicholls State (9-39, 4-20 SLC). The Birds have won six in a row at their on-campus facility and 14 of 15 overall.

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