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.
With the victory, UT Arlington improves its record to 25-20 in its 16th UTA/Hilton Invitational... The Mavericks improve to 35-33 all-time against Arkansas State, including a 25-14 record in Arlington... It was the first victory for the Mavericks against the Red Wolves on Opening Day... UT Arlington improves to 19-22 all-time on Opening Day, including a 10-8 record in season-openers at home... Since 2000, UT Arlington has won eight of its last 11 home openers, with a 3-1 record in the last four... It was the 24th time the Mavericks have held their opponent to four runs or less on opening day. The Mavericks improve to 27-14 all-time in home openers, which includes victories in the past three... Andy Sauter earned his second career save, while making just his fourth relief appearance since 2007.
UTA/Hilton Invitational Games:
Arkansas State defeated Texas State, 4-3
Arkansas State junior Josh DeMoney hit a game-winning RBI single up the middle in the bottom of the 10th inning to help give Arkansas State a 4-3 season-opening victory over Texas State in the first game of the UTA/Hilton Invitational on Friday. Texas State took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on a two-run triple by center fielder Bret Atwood. Texas State starting pitcher Michael Russo was impressive in his first outing of the season as he carried a no-hitter through 5 1/3 innings. DeMoney (2-for-4) and lead-off hitter Todd Baumgartner (2-for-5) led Arkansas State offensively. Andy Ferguson earned the victory out of the bullpen for the Red Wolves, tossing two scoreless innings. Texas State reliever Tim Heath suffered the loss allowing three runs in 2.2 innings.