Vaqueros rally past Trailblazers in series opener

Graphic via UTRGV Athletics.

The UTRGV baseball team blasted a pair of ninth inning 2-run home runs to come from behind and beat the Utah Tech Trailblazers 13-11 on Thursday at Bruce Hurst Field in St. George, Utah.

The Vaqueros (13-11, 3-4 WAC) trailed 11-9 entering the ninth. Junior Edinburg Vela alumnus Isaac Lopez led off with a single against Ryan Hardman (2-1) before freshman Armani Raygoza launched his first-career home run off the centerfield scoreboard to tie the game. Two outs later, senior Kade York drew a 7-pitch walk and then senior Adrian Torres homered to give the Vaqueros the lead.

Junior Anthony Tejada struck out two in a perfect ninth for his first save. 

That made a winner of junior Robert Bonilla (1-0), who struck out one in a hitless eighth.

Raygoza led the Vaqueros offensively by going a career-best 4-for-5 with a career-high four RBI. York finished a career-best 4-for-4 with two walks and a career-high four runs scored. Graduate student CJ Valdez finished 2-for-5 with a double and three RBI. Junior Hank Warren went 2-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored.

The Vaqueros came out of the gate swinging in the first, loading the bases with one out to set up a Warren RBI-single. Then, with two outs, Raygoza hit a 2-run single and Valdez hit an RBI-single to cap the inning with the Vaqueros up 4-0.

 Chase Rodriguez answered with a 2-out, 2-run single in the bottom of the inning to bring the Trailblazers (7-18, 5-5 WAC) within 4-2.

Junior Steven Lancia gave the Vaqueros one of those runs back with a two-out RBI-single in the second to make the score 5-2. 

The Trailblazers scored two runs in the second on a Hunter Katschke home run and four in the third on 2-run singles by Garrett Cutting and Ethan Royal to take an 8-5 lead.

The Vaqueros tied the game in the fifth, as with two on and one out, Warren hit an RBI-single. Then, one out later, Raygoza singled to load the bases and Valdez hit a 2-run.

In the bottom of the inning, though, the Trailblazers took the lead on an error and then Katschke hit a 2-run single to put the Trailblazers up 11-8.

The Vaqueros loaded the bases with nobody out in the eighth. Lancia grounded into a double play, forcing-in a run to make the score 11-9.

UTRGV and Utah Tech play the middle game of their three-game series at 7 p.m. Friday. Fans can watch domestically on ESPN+ or internationally via WAC International.