UTRGV baseball knocks out WAC champs

Graphic via UTRGV Athletics.

Junior Sharyland High alumnus Martin Vazquez hit a go-ahead home run in the eighth and senior Edinburg Vela alumnus Nico Rodriguez pitched a career-high four scoreless innings of relief to lead the No. 7-seeded UTRGV baseball team past the No. 1 Grand Canyon Lopes 10-9 in a Western Athletic Conference Tournament elimination game on Thursday at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, Arizona, the spring training home of the Oakland A’s.

UTRGV looks to play two elimination games on Friday. The first game is Friday at 5 p.m. against No. 4 California Baptist. The winner of that game faces the loser of the earlier game between No. 2 Abilene Christian and No. 5 Tarleton State at 8 p.m. Fans can watch domestically on ESPN+ or internationally via WAC International.

Vazquez finished a career-high tying 3-for-5 a triple short of the cycle with three RBI and a career-high tying three runs scored. It’s the second time he’s scored three runs in a game in this tournament.

Vazquez led off the eighth with the game tied at nine and belted the go-ahead home run off Nathan Ward (1-2).

Vazquez now has 17 home runs this season, the fourth-highest single season total in program history. He is also now tied for the 10th most home runs in a career along with Montclair Cain(2021-23) and Andy Ness (1999-00).

Senior Vela alum Nico Rodriguez (5-0) pitched a scoreless ninth to close out the win. Rodriguez struck out three while scattering three hits and one walk during his outing.

Graduate student Adrian Torres went a career-high 5-for-5 with a double, an RBI and two run scored. It was Torres’ second game of at least four hits during the tournament. Senior Kade Yorkwent 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Freshman Easton Moomau finished 2-for-5 with a double, an RBI and a run scored.

The Lopes (34-23) made errors on each of the first two batted balls, allowing the Vaqueros (29-24) to put two on with nobody out. Vazquez followed by hitting a liner down the right field line for a 2-run double. The throw came to the plate, and with Vazquez off the second base bag, Alton Gyselman tried throw behind him. The Throw went into centerfield, though, where there was no one to field the ball, allowing Vazquez to score to put the Vaqueros up 3-0. 

The Lopes tied the game in the second on RBI-singles by Eddy Pelc, Emilio Barreras and Tyler Wilson.

In the bottom of the inning, Moomau came up with two on and one out and sent hit a ground-rule double over the right-centerfield wall to give the Vaqueros a 4-3 lead.

The Lopes tied the game in the third on an RBI-ground out by Eli Paton, who then gave the Lopes the lead with a home run to make the score 5-4 in the fifth.

Two outs after Paton’s home run, the Lopes put runners on the corners, setting up a Barreras RBI-single and a Wilson 3-run home run to put the Lopes up 9-4.

The Vaqueros responded in the bottom of the inning by putting two on with one out, setting up a Torres RBI-double, a 2-run triple by junior Vela alum Isaac Lopez, and an RBI-single by junior Hank Warren to make the score 9-8.

That was it until the seventh, when the Vaqueros put runners on the corners with two outs and York hit a game-tying single.