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Roadrunners win extra-innings thriller at Stephen F. Austin on Friday

Courtesy: UTSA Athletics Communications
Release: 10/29/2009
Courtesy UTSA Athletics Communications
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Senior Mitch Ponza's two-run blast in the 10th game UTSA its 14th SLC victory of the season on Friday.
NACOGDOCHES Senior Mitch Ponza launched a two-run home run with two down in the 10th and UTSA held on for a thrilling 7-6 victory in extra innings on Friday at Jaycees Field. The Roadrunners won their fourth consecutive game and improved to 24-15 overall and 14-2 in Southland Conference play.

Junior Zach Etheredge lined a two-out single up the middle to get the game-winning rally started off SFA reliever Heath Konesheck (0-3). Ponza then deposited a 1-1 fastball over the left-field wall for his fourth homer of the season to give the Roadrunners a 7-5 lead.

The victory did not come without drama, as the Lumberjacks drew within one on Noel Trevino’s RBI single in the bottom of the frame and then loaded the bases with two out. However, freshman Zach Calhoon (3-1) got Chris Smith to fly out to sophomore Michael Rockett and give the Roadrunners their sixth straight SLC series-opening victory of the year.

"This was a tremendous win for us," head coach Sherman Corbett said after the one-run victory. "To come to Nacogdoches and take the first game of this weekend's series was big. There were some tense moments, but we had several guys step up today.

"J.T., Josh and Zach each came in with runners on base and all three made big pitches. We were given another opportunity on offense and made the most of it. Zach got a two-out hit to keep the 10th inning going and Mitch then delivered a clutch homer. I'm just really proud these guys right now."

Stephen F. Austin (21-19, 8-8 SLC) had several chances to break the game open in the late innings, but the Lumberjacks left 14 runners on base and were repeatedly thwarted by a trio of UTSA relievers.

Junior J.T. Mackey relieved starter Josh Ruffin with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth with the Roadrunners leading 5-4 and the right-hander proceeded to punch out the final two hitters of the innings to preserve the lead.

Senior Josh Blakley came in for Mackey with runners on first and second and the game tied at five with one down in the eighth. Blakley then registered back-to-back strikeouts to end the rally.

One inning later, Calhoon was summoned from the bullpen with one down and Jared Pitts representing the winning run on second base. After a ground out moved Pitts to third, the righty got David Jeans to swing at a ball in the dirt for the third strike.

After the teams combined for seven runs in the first four by UTSA and three by SFA the game settled into a pitcher’s duel between Lumberjacks starter Erich Lehmann and Ruffin, who combined to hold the offenses scoreless over the next three frames.

Etheredge’s RBI single with two down in the fifth brought home junior Trent Lockwood, who tripled down the right-field line, with an insurance run to extend the Roadrunners’ lead to 5-3.

However, Steven Hill brought SFA within one in the bottom of the frame when he hit his SLC-leading 17th homer of the season with two out (No. 3 NCAA).

Ruffin allowed four runs on eight hits in his 5.1 innings of work, while Lehmann gave up five runs on 10 hits in seven frames.

Etheredge and Ponza each had three hits on the day, while Rockett and Lockwood extended their hitting streaks to 12 and 11 games, respectively.

The series continues at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Junior right-hander Bradley Chovanec (2-4, 4.43 ERA) will oppose SFA righty Jared Schrom (3-2, 3.46).

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