Vaqueros beat Mavs in extras to clinch series

Texas Rio Grande's Jack Lopez releases a pitch against Texas at Arlington during a baseball game at UTRGV Baseball field Sunday, April 07 2024 in Edinburg, Tx. (Delcia Lopez| [email protected])

EDINBURG The UTRGV Vaqueros won their second-straight Western Athletic Conference (WAC) series with a 3-2 takedown of Texas at Arlington (UTA) in 10 innings Sunday at UTRGV Baseball Stadium in Edinburg.

UTRGV was victorious 8-2 in Game 1 on Friday before UTA won 9-5 in Game 2 on Saturday to tie the series entering Sunday’s rubber match.

The UTRGV (16-13, 6-6 WAC) bullpen pitched six shutout innings to finish Sunday’s game and the top of the batting order came through in the bottom of the 10th to win in walk-off fashion.

“It all goes to the bullpen. That’s what we’re searching for Jack Lopez, Bobby Bonilla and Nico Rodriguez,” UTRGV head coach Derek Matlock said. “What a good job of throwing out of the bullpen and playing defense and keeping us in there against some crooked arms. Our bullpen out-pitched their bullpen and our defense played better than their defense at the end. It’s a series win and this is such a good team, so we gotta get moving, and we will.”

Short stop Kade York walked to leadoff the 10th and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Adrian Torres. UTA intentionally walked UTRGV’s home run leader and Sharyland High alumnus Martin Vazquez to put runners on first and second with one out to bring up junior catcher Steven Lancia.

Texas Rio Grande’s Kade York gets back on 1st as Texas at Arlington’s Tyce Armstrong is late with the tag during a baseball game at UTRGV Baseball field Sunday, April 07 2024 in Edinburg, Tx. (Delcia Lopez| [email protected])

Lancia hit a ground ball towards first and UTA first baseman Tyce Armstrong missed high on a toss back to pitcher Joe Steeber at first resulting in an error which allowed York to come across for the game-winning run.

“We’re going to bunt a guy over and let them try to get Martin and Lancia out. We knew they’d probably walk Martin, but we have enough confidence in Lancia and then he gets in front of a secondary pitch and hits it off the end of the bat and we get lucky,” Matlock said. “But sometimes luck is part of the game. We held them in there with zeroes. We’ve had bad luck along the way, and that was good luck in them making that error for us to win the game, so we’ll take a series win. That’s two weeks in a row with series wins and this business is about winning series and we got to start winning.”

UTRGV freshman and PSJA High alumnus Julius Ramirez recorded his first collegiate hit during Friday’s game and smashed his first career home run during the bottom of the sixth inning Sunday to tie the game at 2. He pinch hit for fellow freshman Armani Raygoza and immediately went yard.

“It was big-time, just being in that mindset of staying ready for when my name is called and luckily I got it done. I put in a lot of hard work,” Ramirez said. “It was a great team win. We found a way to get through it and did a good job together as a team.”

Texas Rio Grande’s Adrian Torres makes a catch in the outfield against Texas at Arlington during a baseball game at UTRGV Baseball field Sunday, April 07 2024 in Edinburg, Tx. (Delcia Lopez| [email protected])

UTA scored one run in the third and fourth innings to take a 2-1 lead before the UTRGV bullpen shut them down for the remainder of the afternoon.

Lopez was up first in relief and pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings with four strikeouts. Bonilla followed with 2 2/3 shutout innings with six strikeouts, and Rodriguez closed the show with 1 1/3 innings and one strikeout to earn the win. Rodriguez entered the game in the top of the ninth with two outs and runners on the corners.

“It boosts our confidence a lot,” the Edinburg Vela alumnus Rodriguez said about the pitching performance Sunday. “We just keep grinding every day and we try to prepare as best we can. Seeing the result we had today, we put up six zeroes at the end for the bullpen. That’s just great confidence for us and shows what we can do moving forward.”

UTRGV starter Jacob Limas lasted 3.1 innings and struck out four while allowing two earned runs of four hits and a walk. Lancia finished 3-for-4 with one RBI and one walk.

UTRGV is back in action with a three-game series against Utah Valley beginning at 6:30 p.m. Friday at UTRGV Baseball Stadium in Edinburg.

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