Vaqueros bounce back against Cal Baptist

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley's Elijah Alexander (24) connects with the ball in a third-game series against UMass at UTRGV Baseball Stadium on Sunday, Mar. 10, 2019, in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

EDINBURG — The UTRGV baseball team bounced “back, back, back, back, back” from Thursday’s loss to California Baptist in a big way as Christian Sepulveda blasted two home runs, lifting the Vaqueros to a 9-1 win Friday night at UTRGV Baseball Stadium.

“I was feeling pretty good seeing the ball and sitting on pitches and just battling in there. We came out pretty strong and came out with confidence. We played with heart and came out with the win,” Sepulveda said.

Sepulveda finished 2 for 4 at the plate with three runs, two homers, two RBIs and two walks. Conrado Diaz joined him with multiple RBIs as the first baseman ripped a bases-clearing double to the left field wall put UTRGV out in front 5-0 after five innings.

Graduate student Conner Dotson had the ball in his hand for the second game in the three-game series and delivered a season-high 11 strikeouts, allowing just six hits, two walks and one earned run in 6 1/3 innings.

“Dotson comes out and acts like a Friday night starter with a high velocity and his big breaking ball is starting to get going. What a great job on offense of banging the ball around and hitting with guys on base,” UTRGV coach Derek Matlock said. “We did all the things today that we didn’t do yesterday, so to have a complete series, you have to do it two out of three times to win a series and it’s all about winning series.”

Dotson’s 6 1/3 innings is the second-longest outing he’s had this season, but he was feeling well Friday night as he picked up his second win of the season.

“Going into today, I felt pretty good with it being a short week. Early, I just attacked with my fastball, my fastball command was pretty good,” Dotson said. “In the later innings, I kind of got in trouble because I threw too many fastballs and they started to jump on it. Once they started to hit my fastball, I had to go to my breaking ball a little more and it was pretty good today, so I was able to keep them off-balance with that.”

Harlingen South alum Zach Martinez entered the game for Dotson in the seventh and struck out three batters in 2 2/3 innings of relief to close out the game.

The Vaqueros added four insurance runs during the bottom of the eighth as Coleman Grubbs drove in two, Anthony Gomez brought in one, and Mercedes alum Oliver Closner IV scored Elijah Alexander from third base on a suicide squeeze.

The win sends UTRGV to 24-13 overall and 10-4 in the Western Athletic Conference.

The series finale between is set for noon today at UTRGV Baseball Stadium.

bramos@themonitor.com