April 11, 2008
LAKE CHARLES, La. - - For the second consecutive weekend, the UT Arlington baseball team got its Southland Conference series started just the way it wanted.
Once again, the Mavericks did it behind the pitching of left-handed starter Ryan Robinson. The junior transfer from Southlake, who beat Sam Houston State last Friday, shut down McNeese State this time around and handed the Mavericks a 7-2 victory at Cowboy Diamond in the first game of the three-game series. Robinson tossed 6 2/3 innings and allowed just six hits and two runs. He struck out three.
Robinson (3-3) allowed one run in the fourth inning, pitched out of a jam in the fifth and cruised into the seventh before handing the game over to Ryan Martin with two runners on and two out. Martin struck out Joe Cholley looking on an inside slider to keep the game safe, then battled through a scoreless eighth and ninth to secure the victory.
"It's tough to get right off the bus after a long trip and get the win, but we were focused and played well right off the bat," Robinson said. "This sets the tone, but we're not finished yet. There's still some work to do. We have to come out and win (Saturday), then go for the sweep on Sunday,"
UTA's offense wasn't overpowering, but it was balanced and efficient - eight different batters had a hit. On defense, the Mavericks helped Robinson and Martin by turning three double-plays.
The Mavericks (13-20, 6-7 in the SLC) also took advantage of three McNeese State errors.
The top of the seventh inning was a perfect example of UTA's offensive execution. Leading 5-1, Jeff Storms led the inning with a walk. A perfect bunt single by Evan Raley put runners on first and second. Jay Pitschka followed with a perfect bunt single down the third-base line to load the bases. David McLeod's sacrifice fly gave the Mavericks another insurance run, 6-1.
The Mavericks and Cowboys (10-23, 5-8) resume the series in Game 2 at 3 p.m. Saturday. UTA will send junior right-hander Nathan Long to the mound. Game 3 is set for 1 p.m. Sunday, and each game can be followed by fans through GameTracker at www.utamavs.com.
In Friday night's game, UTA struck first in the third inning off McNeese left-handed starter Tylerr Davis (3-6). Storms led off with a bloop single just out of the reach of the charging right-fielder. A one-out sacrifice bunt by Pitschka moved Storms to second, and from there, the Mavericks offense came alive.
McLeod made it 1-0 with a double down the right-field line, and Matt Otteman drove him home with a single to left. Otteman then advanced on a botched pick-off attempt. With Otteman in scoring position, Michael Choice doubled down the line in left to give the Mavericks an early 3-0 cushion.
UTA's defense responded in the bottom of the third by turning its second double-play of the game, squashing a mild McNeese scoring threat. The Cowboys did get one run back in the bottom of the fourth on a run-scoring single by Nic Eubanks, but the Mavericks came right back in the top of the fifth.
Evan Ralay got things started by battling to a walk to lead the inning. Pitschka followed with a double down the left-field line to keep the threat going. McNeese State's defense offered a little help the rest of the inning. After getting those first two runners on, the Cowboys had a wild pitch to score Raley and move Pitschka to third.
A shortstop throwing error on a hard grounder by McLeod scored Pitschka and gave UTA two runs in the inning and a 5-1 lead.
Just when it looked like Robinson was tiring - he allowed a run in the fourth and two runners to reach base in the fifth with one out - a fly ball out by Sam Merrill and a big strikeout looking against Joe Cholley ended the inning and gave him five complete while still holding on to the 5-1 lead.