Roadrunners offense heats up in nightcap for Saturday doubleheader split with Charlotte
SAN ANTONIO — After dropping a 2-0 decision in game one, UTSA hit two grand slams and a two-run home run en route to a 12-2 victory in six innings to earn a split of Saturday’s Conference USA doubleheader at Roadrunner Field.
Jolene Graham went 2-for-4 with a grand slam and career-best five RBIs in game two, while Vivian Tijerina also homered with the bases loaded for the Roadrunners (18-20, 6-5 C-USA). It marked the second time this season that UTSA has hit two grand slams in one game after doing so in the second inning of a 17-2 win against Lamar on Feb. 8. Megan Low also launched her NCAA-leading 16th home run of the season.
Lexi Betancourt led the 49ers (14-16, 5-8 C-USA) to the win in game one with a double at the plate and seven scoreless frames in the circle.
The two teams will conclude the weekend series with a noon contest on Sunday.
Game 1: Charlotte 2, UTSA 0
Jackie Kleinsmith’s two-RBI single in the top of the sixth provided the game’s only runs and lifted Charlotte to a 2-0 win in the opening game of Saturday’s doubleheader.
Courtney Buchman went 2-for-3 to lead the Roadrunners, who also got hits from Madison Kinley, Megan Low and Vivian Tijerina. Kacy Freeze went the distance in the circle with just two runs allowed on five hits with a walk and six strikeouts.
Meanwhile, Lexi Betancourt made Kleinsmith’s two-run hit stand up with seven shutout innings in which she scattered five hits with two walks and six strikeouts to improve to 13-8. The junior also doubled and scored the game’s first run to lead the 49ers.
Freeze opened the game in dominant fashion by striking out five of the first seven batters. After Jessica Plemmons’ two-out single in the first inning, Freeze retired 10 consecutive batters until Chelsea Lisikatos started the fifth with a single to center.
Low and Tijerina helped keep the game scoreless with a couple of stellar defensive plays in the fifth. With two runners on and no one out, Charlotte tried a sacrifice bunt that Low fielded and fired to third to get the lead runner. UTSA then retired the side with a double play as Tijerina fielded a grounder, stepped on third base and rifled over to Low for the final out of the inning.
The Roadrunners put runners on first and second with two outs in the bottom of the panel, but were unable to score.
Betancourt started the 49ers’ two-run sixth with a double off the wall in right field. Samantha Slade hit a one-out single to left and a grounder moved her to second with two down. That’s when Kleinsmith delivered a soft single to left center field to plate Betancourt and Slade for a 2-0 lead.
UTSA again threatened with runners on first and second with two outs, but were unable to break up the shutout. The Roadrunners got the potential winning run to the plate in the seventh only to see Betancourt retire the side to preserve the 2-0 victory.
Game 2: UTSA 12, Charlotte 2 (6 innings)
Jolene Graham and Vivian Tijerina each hit grand slams as UTSA piled up 12 runs on 11 hits in a 12-2 run-rule victory over Charlotte in the second game of the day.
Along with Graham’s season-high five RBIs, Jori Fox led the team with three hits and collected her 29th RBI of the campaign. With a two-run homer in the sixth, Megan Low tied her career high for RBIs in a season (32).
Nicole Merrill improved to 6-7 on the season with the victory after allowing two runs, only one of which was earned, on six hits and two walks with five strikeouts.
UTSA jumped out to a 6-0 lead with five runs in the first and another in the second.
The Roadrunners wasted no time getting to 49ers pitcher Chelsea Lisikatos. The home squad loaded the bases with one out and grabbed a 1-0 lead on Graham’s fielder’s choice. Tijerina extended the lead to 5-0 with a no-doubt grand slam to right field. The blast, which came on a 2-2 pitch, was the fifth of the season for the junior.
The speed of Jade Smith helped produce UTSA’s run in the second after she legged out an infield hit and advanced to second on a throwing error. The New Braunfels native then stole third and touched home on Fox’s single to center.
Charlotte ended the shutout with a run in the third and added another in the top of the sixth, before the UTSA bats ended the game in the bottom of the panel.
Alyssa Cummings drew a one-out walk before being replaced by Smith and the speedster only needed to trot home after Low crushed her NCAA-leading 16th homer of the season for an 8-2 lead. Courtney Buchman and Fox each singled and Randee Crawford loaded the bases with a fielder’s choice.
Graham then put an exclamation point on the victory with the team’s second grand slam of the contest on the first pitch of her at-bat. The blast was her second of the season and pushed UTSA’s Conference USA leading total to 48 this spring.