FIVE-RUN FIFTH INNING LIFTS MAVERICKS TO OPENING DAY VICTORY
Feb. 20, 2009
ARLINGTON, Texas - Michael Choice hit a three-run homer and Chad Comer drove in two during a five-run fifth inning that gave UT Arlington a 5-4 Opening Day victory over Arkansas State on Friday at Clay Gould Ballpark on the first day of the 16th Annual UTA/Hilton Invitational.
The Mavericks' win also gives UT Arlington second-year head coach Darin Thomas his second straight Opening Day win, marking only the second time in UT Arlington history that a head coach has won his first two openers.
"I was proud of our pitchers because after the crazy start we got off to and getting down 4-0 we found a way to win," Thomas said. "Mitchell gave us a chance to win by not giving them anything the rest of the way and Andy came in and did a nice job. Then we finally got some timely hitting, although we had been hitting the ball hard and had some nice at-bats early in the game."
Arkansas State broke open the game with four runs in the first inning off Mavericks starting pitcher Jason Mitchell. The junior right-hander then settled in allowing only one base hit the following five innings.
UT Arlington, meanwhile, had just two base hits before rattling off five runs and five hits in the fifth frame to take a 5-4 lead. The Mavs held their lead in large part to senior right-handed pitcher Andy Sauter.
Sauter entered in the top of the seventh inning with runners at first and second base before recording the next three batters consecutively to help get the Mavs out of the jam.
"At first I was trying to work in, they were really on the plate, and I was able to make some good pitches and get out of that inning," Sauter said.
Mitchell earned his first NCAA Division I victory while pitching six inning, allowing six hits, four runs (all earned) with three walks and two strikeouts.
"The first inning was kind of rough but I settled down and started pitching my game," Mitchell said. "It was kind of tough before I started mixing up my pitches and getting in the strike zone."
Sauter was dominating coming out of the bullpen issuing just one base hit and one walk while posting three strikeouts in three innings of work.
"It is early in the season and right now there are no set lineups," Sauter said. "They told me to go down and get ready and I was just ready for the opportunity to come in and hold them."
Overall, the Mavericks tallied nine base hits, with eight different players recording at least one. Senior third baseman Evan Raley was the only player in the game to tally a multi-hit game going 2-for-4.
The Mavericks' fifth-inning rally started after back-to-back ground outs to second base when Preston McCoy doubled to center field and Tim Steggall singled through the left-side of the infield to bring up Choice.
Choice, who led the Mavericks in home runs last season with seven, hit the first pitch he saw over the left-field fence to give the Mavericks their first runs of the season. Senior Matt Otteman then walked on four pitches and advanced to third base on senior Blake Holt's double to right-center field.
Then Comer delivered the two-run RBI single to right field giving the Mavericks the lead, 5-4.
"I think Mike boosted us with that home run," Comer said. "Coming up after that, Blake did all the work hitting that double in the gap which made my job easy. I just had to come up and slap the ball the other way."
UT Arlington will continue play in the UTA/Hilton Invitational with a 3 p.m. matchup with Texas State on Saturday, Feb. 21, at Clay Gould Ballpark.
UTA/Hilton Invitational Games: