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Roadrunners win outright SLC title with thrilling, extra-inning victory

Courtesy: UTSA Athletics Communications
Release: 10/29/2009
Courtesy UTSA Athletics Communications
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Sophomore James Keithley scored the game-winning run on Friday night to give UTSA the outright SLC Championship.
SAN ANTONIO Sophomore James Keithley raced home from third base on a two-out passed ball by Texas State catcher Gerry Cervantez and UTSA rallied for a heart-stopping 7-6 victory in 10 innings on Friday night at Roadrunner Field. The win clinched the outright Southland Conference Regular Season Championship, its first in school history.

In a back-and-forth contest that saw two ties and four lead changes, the Roadrunners also set the SLC record for league wins with their 23rd of the season and improved to 33-20 overall. The victory also was UTSA’s 14th in its last 15 games at the Bird Bath.

After Texas State (35-20, 20-9 SLC) scored a run in the top of the 10th to take a 6-5 lead, senior Mitch Ponza got the game-winning rally started with a lead-off single to center field off Bobcats closer Eric Weaver (5-1). Junior Phillip Allen followed with a perfectly-executed sacrifice bunt in front of the plate and junior Marshal Davis then was hit by Weaver’s next offering.

After Keithley grounded into a fielder’s choice to put runners on the corners with two down, redshirt Tim Palincsar looped Weaver’s 1-2 pitch to right center to bring home Ponza with the tying run and move Keithley to third base. Cervantez could not handle Weaver’s 1-0 pitch to the next batter, sophomore Michael Rockett, and Keithley came down the line with the game-winning run and the celebration was on.

“This title is ours,” head coach Sherman Corbett said after the postgame celebration. “I told the guys today that this was the time to be a little selfish and it was time to get it done tonight. This feels outstanding and it’s an exclamation mark on a great season. Even though we had already clinched a tie, this is what we wanted.”

Junior Trent Lockwood, who tied the school’s single-season record with his 22nd double of the year to lead-off the fifth, sent the game into extra frames with his 13th long ball of the season (T-No. 4 on UTSA's single-season chart), a mammoth shot to right center off Jason Baca with one down in the ninth. It was the second time this season that he sent a contest into overtime with a ninth-inning homer (March 17 at McNeese State).

Junior Trent Lockwood's home run in the ninth sent the contest into extra innings.

Freshman Zach Calhoon (4-2), who entered the game with one a runner on second and one out in the 10th, picked up the win despite hitting a pair of batters and walking one in two-thirds of an inning.

Rockett, who was 3-for-5 with three RBIs, put the Roadrunners up 2-0 with a two-run homer in the first, his eighth of the season. UTSA extended the advantage to three two innings later when Rockett brought home Palincsar, who tripled to lead off the frame, with a base hit up the middle.

Three unanswered runs by Texas State two in the fifth and one more in the sixth tied the game up, but the Roadrunners retook the lead in the seventh when Rockett came home on second baseman Casey Guest’s fielding error with one out.

However, the Bobcats would not go away, as they put up a two-spot in the eighth and retook the lead at 5-4 to set the stage for Lockwood’s late-inning heroics.

The series and UTSA’s regular season concludes at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Freshman right-hander Ryan Proudfoot (4-2, 2.92 ERA) will oppose righty Steven Siers (6-2, 3.34).

Prior to the contest, the Roadrunners’ senior class Josh Blakley, Blake Brannon, Brandon Koger, Noah Miles, Ponza, Josh Ruffin and Ryan Saltzgaber will be honored for their contributions to the program.

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