March 29, 2014
MOBILE, Alabama - UT Arlington may have jumpstarted its Sun Belt Conference season with Saturday's doubleheader sweep of South Alabama at Stanky Field.
The Mavericks (11-16) won their first-ever Sun Belt Conference road game in the opener and improved to 3-5 in league play after taking the nightcap. The Jaguars are 13-12 and 3-4.
The series concludes Sunday, with the first pitch scheduled for noon. The teams were forced to play a doubleheader Saturday after Friday's opening game was rained out.
GAME 1: UTA 8, South Alabama 3
Ryan Bottger homered and drove in five runs in the opener, as UTA jumped on USA starter Kevin Hill right off the bat. After leadoff hitter Derek Miller opened the game with a soft single to center, Bottger sent a rocket over the wall down the right-field line.
The Mavericks kept the pressure on Hill in the second by getting the first three runners on base thanks to an error and two bunt singles. Darien McLemore opened the inning by reaching on a misplayed ball by the first baseman before Travis Sibley and Peter Cuomo laid down perfectly-placed bunts.
Miller grounded into a double play to score McLemore, and Sibley came racing home on a wild pitch for a 4-0 lead. UTA starter Brad Vachon took advantage of the early run support to win for the first time since Feb. 25 at TCU.
Vachon (2-5) worked 7.2 innings, giving up three runs (one earned) on 10 hits. The senior right-hander struck out five and didn't walk a batter on 74 pitches.
A two-out rally in the sixth upped UTA's lead to 8-1. Bottger had the big blow in the inning - a bases-loaded double into the right-field corner to score three. McLemore kept the inning alive with a two-out single and raced around the bags on Sibley's double down the left-field line. An error and a walk set up more heroics for Bottger.
Bottger, in his first season at UTA, upped his RBI total to 12. His five runs batted in were not only a personal high, but also the most by a UTA player this season.
GAME 2: UTA 6, South Alabama 2
The Mavericks scored four runs late and Chase Weaver worked 5.1 scoreless innings in relief to help complete the sweep.
UTA starter Zach Thompson struggled with his control and was pulled for Weaver with two outs in the fourth. Weaver improved to 3-1 after his 12th appearance of the season.
Just as in the opener, Miller led the game off with a single. Shortall drilled one down the left-field line into the corner to score Miller from first.
UT Arlington's three-game winning streak is a season high.