EDINBURG – The UTRGV baseball team won its first Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Championship and clinched the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the WAC Tournament by beating Utah Valley University (UVU) 12-2 in eight innings to close out the regular season on Saturday at UTRGV Baseball Stadium.
The win, coupled with California Baptist’s 9-4 win at New Mexico State, allows UTRGV (34-19, 19-8 WAC), California Baptist and New Mexico State to finished tied for first place as co-WAC Champions.
This is the program’s first conference championship at the NCAA Division I level and first since 1955, when the program was a co-Big State Conference Champion.
UTRGV opens the WAC Tournament on Thursday at 5 p.m. at Hohokam Stadium, the spring training home of the Oakland A’s, in Mesa, Ariz. UTRGV will face the highest available seed among the winners of Wednesday’s opening round games between No. 3 Sacramento State and No. 6 UVU (14-39, 9-18 WAC) and No. 4 Grand Canyon and No. 5 CSU Bakersfield.
This is the second time UTRGV has been the No. 2 seed in the WAC Tournament after earning the spot in 2014.
UTRGV finishes the regular season with a program record 19 conference wins. The 34 overall wins are the program’s most since 1991 (37).
UTRGV was held scoreless over the first seven innings. Junior Tyler Torres led off the seventh with a home run, and then the flood gates opened. UTRGV put two on with one out, setting up a game-tying single by junior Coleman Grubbs against Logan Petet (1-1). Then, with two outs, junior Conrado Diaz hit the go-ahead single, senior Anthony Gomez walked, junior Christian Sepulveda hit a two-run single, Torres hit an RBI-single, and then two runs scored on wild pitches to put UTRGV up 8-2.
UTRGV loaded the bases with nobody out in the eighth, setting up bases loaded walks by Gomez and Torres. Sepulveda got plunked to force-in a run between the walks. Junior Hunter Lessard followed with a sacrifice fly to give UTRGV its third-straight walk-off win.
That made a winner of senior Jerred Quartier (3-2), who struck out three in two scoreless innings of relief.