April 16, 2008
AUSTIN - - When first-year UT Arlington baseball coach Darin Thomas looked at this year's baseball schedule, he noticed one particular week that looked a little daunting - back-to-back games against Oklahoma State and Texas right in the middle of conference play.
What's so tough about it?
A day after disposing of No. 14 Oklahoma State at home, the Mavericks traveled to Austin and knocked off the 20th-ranked Longhorns, 4-3, at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. The biggest hero was left-handed freshman pitcher Marc Picca, who had pitched 10 innings all season and had only pitched once in the past three weeks. Picca took advantage of his opportunity, handcuffing the Longhorns through six complete innings and handing a 3-1 lead to the Mavericks bullpen.
UTA's relief crew held tough and added a run in the top of the eighth to make it 4-1.
Texas scored a run in the eighth, then got a towering homer by Kyle Russell to left-center to lead off the ninth to make it 4-3. Ryan Martin then got three ground-ball outs to end the game, and UTA had completed the Big 12 weekday sweep. UTA (17-20) has now won 10 of its past 12 games, while Texas (23-13) has dropped three of its past four.
Picca (0-3 and Texas right-handed starter Kenn Kasparek (1-3) battled inning-for-inning through the first three. In fact, a double-play in the first inning erased the only hit Picca allowed to leadoff batter Michael Torres in the first. Picca struck out a batter each in the first three innings and faced the minimum. To that point, Kasparek hadn't allowed a runner on base.
That all changed in the fourth when the Mavericks got to Kasparek in a big way. Pinch-hitter Collin Garner smacked a liner just behind the outstretched glove of diving Texas third baseman Travis Tucker to start the inning. The ball bounced down the left-field line and was fielded nicely by Longhorns left-fielder Kyle Lusson. But Garner barely beat the throw and was in sliding with a double. David McLeod followed with a run-scoring double down to left, and the Mavericks had a 1-0 lead. Danny Slinkman then made it three doubles in the inning by hitting one down the line in right, and UTA held a 2-0 advantage.
UTA wasn't finished. With Slinkman on second and two out, Mavericks sophomore second baseman Jeff Storms hit a hard bouncer up the middle to easily score Slinkman, and UTA led 3-0.
Texas relieved Kasparek with left-hander Austin Wood to start the fifth. He allowed an Evan Raley single to start the inning but got out unharmed. In the bottom half, the Texas offensive finally showed signs of life. Kyle Russell homered to make it 3-1, and a David Hernandez single followed. A throwing error put Hernandez on third, but Picca got a fly out to end the threat.
Picca walked Texas leadoff batter Michael Torres to start the bottom of the sixth, but some nifty defense by Mavericks shortstop Jay Pitschka helped stop any damage. A pop fly bounced off Evan Raley's glove in the infield, but Pitschka alertly grabbed the ball and threw to second for the force. On the next play, Pitschka dove to his right on a liner by Preston Clark and snagged it before throwing to second for another force out.
Picca was relieved to start the seventh by Eamonn Donovan but put up some impressive numbers during his time on the mound. Picca tossed six innings, allowed just three hits and one run. He struck out three.
From there, it was up to Eamonn Donovan, Jeff Nollen, Adam Boydston and Ryan Martin to surive the final nine outs. With two runners on and two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Boydston got the left-handed pinch hitter Russell Moldenhauer to strand the runner with a pop out to Raley at third.