EDINBURG — UTRGV and Baylor delivered an opening day slugfest, scoring a combined 36 runs during their doubleheader Sunday at UTRGV Baseball Stadium.
After Baylor won the first game 12-7, UTRGV rallied from an 8-0 deficit with nine straight runs to beat the Bears 9-8 in Game 2, splitting the doubleheader.
“It’s a big win. It’s not what we’re about, as bad as we played on the mound and defensively, but we’ll take a win,” UTRGV head coach Derek Matlock said. “We’ll take a split, but we got to get another one. If we’re going to turn the corner in this program, we got to win series against Power 5 (opponents); we can’t just win one game. So, tomorrow is a big game for us. We’re going to find out if we got anybody that wants to get in there and win a series against a really good ball club.”
With winds reaching more than 20 miles per hour, neither team had trouble finding its offense. UTRGV’s Brett Cain opened the scoring with a solo home run during the bottom of the second inning of Game 1. The Bears answered with a two-run and three-run homer in the top of the third to set the tone for the high-scoring battles.
Baylor led 12-4 after five innings before UTRGV shortstop Christian Sepulveda blasted a three-run shot to make it a 12-7 final in Game 1.
The Bears continued the offensive onslaught halfway through Game 2 with a commanding 8-0 advantage after four-and-a-half innings. The Vaqueros refused to bow out, however, and went on to score nine consecutive runs, including a six-run seventh inning, to finish the game.
“I feel like we just battled the whole day. We put together a lot of good at-bats,” Sepulveda said after a three-hit, four-RBI and four-run day. “We just missed some opportunities, left some runs on, but at the end of the day, we showed that we can fight the whole game and do what we have to do as a team.”
Redshirt freshman Spencer Serven started in left field for UTRGV and came through big in Game 2. The Huntington Beach, California, native, in his first year with the program, hit a two-run homer during the fifth inning for the Vaqueros’ first two runs. He then singled to left to drive in Deandre’ Shelton and Sepulveda during the seventh. Then, during the eighth, he delivered the game-winning hit and Sepulveda scored again.
“My mindset was just (to) remember all the work that I’ve put in and go trust in myself and believe in myself. I think that’s what leads to success the most and that was my mindset,” Serven said.
First/second baseman Andy Atwood tied the game at 8 with a three-run homer during the seventh inning to set up the win.
Matlock credited the bullpen, which came in and did its job and allowed UTRGV to complete the comeback.
Right-handed pitcher Deryk Serbantez earned the win, pitching the eighth and ninth innings, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out four.
“(Serbantez) was unbelievable. He was lights out,” Matlock said. “He had the shade splitting the plate on the mound, which can kind of get guys in trouble, but our bullpen overall threw the ball really well.”
The Vaqueros and the Bears are scheduled to close out their three-game non-conference series at 1 p.m. today at UTRGV Baseball Stadium in Edinburg.
“I think this win makes us feel that we’re able to play with Power 5 teams. I think we believed that before the game, but this kind of just confirmed it,” Serven said. “Going into the game (today), we just need to forget about these two games and go and compete in the moment.”
The game is closed to the general public but is available to watch free online at WACDigitalNetwork.com.