UTRGV baseball tops California Baptist, clinches spot in WAC tourney

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley's Tyler Valdez (9) pitches in the second game of a double header against University of Rhode Island in the season opener at UTRGV Baseball Stadium on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024, in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

The UTRGV baseball team clinched a spot in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament by beating the California Baptist Lancers 8-5 on Sunday at James W. Totman Stadium in Riverside, California.

The WAC Tournament includes the top eight teams in the WAC and runs May 21-25 at Hohokam Stadium, the spring training home of the A’s, in Mesa, Ariz.

Senior Kade York led the Vaqueros (24-22, 13-14 WAC) offensively by going 2-for-3 with two doubles, three RBI and a run scored. Freshman Easton Moomau finished 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. Graduate student CJ Valdez went 2-for-3 with a home run, two walks and two runs scored. Junior Hank Warren finished 2-for-5 with a run scored.

On the first pitch of the game, York doubled off Seth Mattox (1-1) and then Moomau followed with an RBI-single to give the Vaqueros an immediate 1-0 lead.

Senior Tyler Valdez (3-3) retired the first seven batters he faced. In the third, though, a hit by pitch, a walk and a wild pitch put runners at second and third with one out to set up a sacrifice fly by Mitchel Simon to tie the game at 1.

The Lancers (32-20, 16-11 WAC) took a 2-1 lead in the fourth on a 2-out double by Julian Alvarez.

Valdez struck out four in a career-high tying 6.0 innings while allowing just two hits and three walks.

In the fifth, graduate student Adrian Torres walked, junior Edinburg Vela alumnus Isaac Lopez singled and then a balk put the runners at second and third to start the inning. Graduate student and PSJA North alum Damian Rodriguez followed with an RBI-groundout and then York lifted a sacrifice fly to give the Vaqueros a 3-2 lead.

With one out in the seventh, Rodriguez got hit by a pitch and York followed with an RBI-double down the right field line to make the score 4-2.

The Lancers got one back in the seventh on an RBI-single by Garret Ostrander to make the score 4-3.

The Vaqueros scored twice in the eighth, as with the bases loaded and one out, Lopez was plunked and freshman Armani Raygoza walked to force-in runs. York followed with a sacrifice fly to make the score 7-3.

The Lancers loaded the bases in the eighth, leading to a 2-out, 2-run double by Ostrander to make the score 7-5.

Valdez responded with a home run in the ninth to make the score 8-5.

Junior Jack Lopez recorded the final five outs for his first save.

UTRGV visits Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 6 p.m. Tuesday to wrap up nonconference play.