April 12, 2011
By Art Garcia for UTAMavs.com
ARLINGTON, Tex. - UT Arlington took a Big 12 program to extra innings at home for the second time in two weeks on Tuesday. For the second time, the Mavericks fell short.
A barrage of extra-base hits in the 10th inning lifted Baylor to a 9-4 victory over UTA before 570 fans at Clay Gould Ballpark. Texas A&M also edged the Mavericks in 10 back on March 30.
As has been the case lately, missed opportunities have come back to bite the Mavericks. UTA (17-16) has dropped five of its last seven games.
"The disappointing thing is I don't think we've played very well, especially the last couple of weeks," UTA coach Darin Thomas said. "I really don't think we've played very well. We're making mistakes, but yet you look up and the game is tied for nine innings. That makes you think as a coach that if we just play a little better."
The Bears' game-winning rally began with back-to-back triples that cruelly eluded Mavericks right field Preston Beck, who nearly made spectacular catches on both shots. Bears first baseman Max Muncy sent a deep fly to the wall that Beck almost corralled.
Baylor designated hitter Josh Ludy followed with a sinking liner that fell just below Beck's outstretched glove and rolled into the corner. The Bears had a 5-4 lead at that point, but were hardly done. A three-run home run not long after by Dan Evatt sealed the win for the visitors.
"If you don't win it after nine," Thomas said, "you take that chance of anything happening."
The Mavericks have dropped both meetings with Baylor this season, but unlike the 6-1 setback last month in Waco, the Mavericks were in this one throughout. UTA head a 3-1 after five innings and tied the game at 4-4 with a clutch base hit in the seventh.
The seven UTA pitchers used were constantly working their way out of jams, a fact that didn't escape Thomas.
"Anytime you walk 10 guys, it's just a matter of time before something happens," he said. "That's a good club and they're going to get hits. It's disappointing. Again, it's an extra inning loss. We had our chances. Just a mistake here or there and that's kind of what happens, it's the first team to crack. Make an error or give up a give play."
UTA temporarily snagged control of the evening with a three-run fifth, taking advantage of a misplayed fly ball and another error by the Bears. Left fielder Jake Pinchback had the big blow -- a high fly with two outs that plated two for the Mavericks' first lead.
The inning started with catcher Chad Comer lining a solid single to center. With one out, first baseman Jordan Vaughn reached on an error by Baylor second baseman Lawton Langford, whose throw to second was high and left both runners safe.
A fielder's choice followed, leaving Comer and center fielder Philip Incaviglia at the corners. Second baseman Ryan Walker's two-out single up the middle past a diving Langford knotted the game at 1-1. Pinchback should have been the third out, but Baylor center fielder Brooks Pinckard lost the ball in the lights and both runners on -- Incaviglia and a hustling Walker -- raced home.
UTA led off the sixth and seventh innings with singles and had a runner in scoring position in both. The Mavericks cashed in on pitch hitter Preston Morrow's two-out single in the seventh, scoring Vaughn to tie the game at 4-all.
"We only scored in two innings and one of them the guy didn't see the ball in centerfield or we only score one there," Thomas said. "We talked about it. We've got to grind out some at-bats. We've got some guys really struggling at the plate, and we've got make some changes and try to find a way to score some runs to take pressure off our pitching staff."
Mavericks starter Brody Walker did his best Houdini in the early going, wiggling out of trouble in the first and third innings. Baylor could have easily blown the game open in either inning, but Walker made the pitches he needed to make.
The Bears loaded the bases in the top of the first with two outs thanks to a pair of walks sandwiched around a single. Walker avoided any damage by getting Baylor third baseman Joey Hainsfurther on a soft one-hop liner to second to end the threat.
Walker was touched up in the third on Baylor left fielder Logan Vick's homer to right, but maneuvered out of another bases-loaded jam without further harm when Bears shortstop Landis Ware flied out to center.
The Mavericks won't have much time to dwell on the loss, with another Baylor from central Texas headed to Clay Gould Ballpark on Wednesday. First pitch against Mary Hardin-Baylor is at 4 p.m. UTA and MHB haven't played each other since 1987.
* The first pitch was delayed for six minutes due to overwatering of the infield, especially at shortstop. Extra dirt was applied to the spot in question and the proceedings were soon underway.
* Bears coach Steve Smith made use of his staff, going with eight pitchers. No one threw more than two innings.
BSB: Seventh Inning Dooms Mavs in Sun Belt Championships
BSB: Mavs Open Sun Belt Championship with Arkansas State
BSB: Sun Belt Championships Washed Out, Again
BSB: Darin Thomas Named Sun Belt Coach of the Year
BSB: Mavs Earn No. 2 Seed in Sun Belt Championship
BSB: Texas State Claims Series Finale in 10