EDINBURG — Three games, 30 runs, zero errors, and most importantly, three wins.
The UTRGV baseball team opened its 2023 season by sweeping Houston Christian with a 10-4 victory in Sunday’s series finale at UTRGV Baseball Stadium in Edinburg. The Vaqueros (3-0) topped the Huskies 10-0 in Game 1 on Friday and 10-6 in Game 2 on Saturday.
“Anytime you can sweep, you’ve got to enjoy it because it’s so hard to win three games in a row against somebody,” UTRGV head coach Derek Matlock said. “That team’s a good ball club. They had some injuries and they’ll be back, so it’s a good start. We just got to do a good job of getting better at the things we did wrong. I thought we had an unbelievable defensive weekend. That’s what this ball club has to be — we have to be outstanding on defense and throw a lot of strikes, let that offense go to work and we’ll be in every game.”
The Vaqueros scored the game’s first three runs only to see the Huskies pull ahead with the next four during the fourth and fifth innings. From that moment on, it was all UTRGV.
The Vaqueros scored two runs during the bottom of the fifth, one run during the sixth and four more during the seventh to secure the 10-4 final.
Right fielder Montclair Cain went 3-for-4 with two doubles, one walk, one run and three RBIs. Edinburg Vela alumnus and catcher RJ Ochoa went 2-for-3 with one walk, three RBIs and one run.
“We had a good plan going in and we all looked good. Hopefully we can carry it over, keep swinging the bat and catch more ‘Ws’,” Ochoa said.
Center fielder Zerek Saenz scored three runs on 2-for-4 hitting and second baseman Isaac Lopez added two hits and one run. Designated hitter Roberto Gonzalez and first baseman Jacob Sanchez, a PSJA High alumnus, had one RBI each.
The Vaqueros were without Preseason All-WAC selection Brandon Pimentel, who was also named to the Bobby Bragan National Collegiate Slugger Award Watch List, due to injury.
He did have one at-bat, an intentional walk, but the Vaqueros’ offense didn’t slow down with 10 runs for the third straight game to open the season. Pimentel is 3-for-4 with two RBIs, two runs and four walks to start his year.
Cain finished opening weekend 5-for-11 with six RBIs, five runs scored, four doubles and three walks. While the graduate student from Waco, Cain, is off to a hot start offensively, he credited UTRGV’s defense for helping shut down the Huskies with no errors on the weekend.
“We pride ourselves on having a good defense and our two guys up the middle in our infield do a great job. They’re making tough plays left and right and I thought our outfield did a good job of tracking balls down,” he said.
Alex Verdugo (1-0) earned the win with 2.2 innings pitched and three strikeouts while it was a one-run game during the fifth and sixth innings. Starter Colten Davis pitched four innings, allowing three runs, three hits and three walks while striking out four. Ruben Gonzalez and Bobby Loya both pitched scoreless innings to close the game for UTRGV.
Matlock said Verdugo did a good job of coming in a close game and shutting the Huskies down and liked what he saw from the freshman Ruben Gonzalez.
Next for UTRGV is five games against Central Michigan beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. The Vaqueros will play the Chippewas (2-1) in a double-header at 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday, all at UTRGV Baseball Stadium in Edinburg. Tickets can be purchased at UTRGVTickets.com.
The games are also available to stream online at ESPN+, ESPN’s streaming service.
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