May 5, 2009
ARLINGTON, Texas - UT Arlington used 13 combined strikeouts from its pitching staff and four RBI from Mitch Putman as the Mavericks defeated No. 17 Oklahoma 8-5 on Tuesday night in front of 734 fans at Clay Gould Ballpark in Arlington. Southland Conference history was also made on Tuesday as senior Andrew Kainer lined a single to left field in the first inning to break the all-time SLC hit streak record with his 35th consecutive game with a base hit. Kainer tied the 13-year old record of 34 games (Brett Lockwood, Nicholls) on Sunday.
The Mavericks (27-21) close a four-game homestand with their fourth consecutive win and have now won eight of their last 12 games overall. The No. 17 ranked Sooners fall to 35-15 overall with the loss. UT Arlington is 4-6 this season against nationally-ranked opponents and is 2-0 against Big 12 teams at Clay Gould Ballpark this season.
"I thought we really swung the bats well against some good arms," Thomas said. "It was a good game. We made it tough on ourselves by putting people on base, but we got the win and that is the most important thing."
UT Arlington scored a pair of runs in the first inning and never looked back as they held the lead for the entire game. Jay Pitschka led off the first with a double and later scored on a fielder's choice by sophomore Michael Choice. Choice scored two batters later on Kainer's record-breaking single to left field.
With a 1-0 count, Kainer lined a single into left field off a fastball from Oklahoma starting left-handed pitcher C.J. Blue.
"I knew I squared it up well," Kainer said. "My first thought was just hoping the ball would get on the ground. I didn't want someone to dive and catch it or the third baseman to jump up and catch it somehow. As soon as I hit it I knew that was it and I started pumping my fist because I knew that was it. I just waited for it to hit the ground so I could celebrate."
Kainer went 1-for-2 with a run scored and RBI in the game while also reaching base twice on hit by pitches. Kainer is now batting .440 (62-for-141) during his 35-game hit streak - which is also the longest hitting streak in the NCAA Division I this season.
"I'm glad he got it out of the way early, because then he didn't have to put pressure on himself later in the game," Thomas said. "Hopefully he can keep it going for the rest of the year. That is great. That is going to be tough for someone to break. It means he has been consistent and hopefully he can stay consistent the rest of the year. I'm proud of him. That is a great accomplishment."
After the Sooners reached the scoreboard on an RBI single in the top of the third, Putman gave the Mavericks a 3-1 lead with an RBI fielder's choice to center field. Putman's hard-hit liner was stopped by a diving Jamie Johnson in shallow center field, allowing Johnson to throw out Kainer at second base for the fielder's choice.
Putman then launched his second home run in as many games in the fifth inning, giving the Mavericks some breathing room with a 6-2 lead.
"I'm just staying relaxed and enjoying what I love to do," Putman said. "I've just been working hard and waiting for the opportunity to get in and play."
Putman, who made his seventh start of the season, was coming off a 3-for-4 performance in Sunday's game against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Putman led all players on Tuesday with four RBI.
UT Arlington starting pitcher Rett Varner threw four plus innings in the no-decision, after leaving the game with the Mavs leading in the top of the fifth inning. The Mavericks were in good hands with the relief work of senior Matt Otteman.
Otteman recorded nine outs on the mound - eight via strikeout - in three innings of work. His eight strikeouts match a career-high as the right-hander is now averaging 16.5 strikeouts per nine innings. Otteman also leads the Mavericks with a .426 batting average and 56 RBI.
"He has a plus pitch with his slider." Thomas said. "It is the type of pitch people know is coming and it is still tough to not swing at. That is why we had to DH him tonight was for that role right there and we ended up really needing him."
Otteman's strikeout total included seven swinging strikeouts and one called strike three. "Everything today was working for me on the mound," Otteman said. "I wish I could get one pitch back that went over the fence, but that is the way the game went. Overall I'm really happy with the way I pitched and how we played."
Otteman was the winning pitcher, improving his season mark to 3-1. He allowed three hits, three runs and three walks in his third career victory over a Big 12 opponent.
Sophomore Adam Boydston came in to pitch the eighth and ninth innings for UT Arlington to earn his eighth save of the season - which places him tied for third on the UTA all-time single-season list. He allowed two hits in the ninth, but ended the game with a strikeout and a flyout to left field.
The Mavericks' three pitchers combined to allow Oklahoma only nine base hits with 13 strikeouts. Ten different Sooners struck out in the game, including three OU hitters who went down swinging twice. The Sooners entered this week leading the Big 12 in batting (.328) and home runs (80).
Pitschka (2-for-5), Tim Steggall (2-for-4) and Otteman (2-for-5) were the leading hitters for the Mavericks as they all tallied two base hits. Steggall is now batting .340 (16-for-47) over his last 11 games played, and Pitschka has four multi-hit games over his last five games with a.363 (8-for-22) batting average.
UT Arlington will get back into Southland Conference action this weekend with a three-game road trip to fourth-place Lamar in Beaumont, Texas. The Mavericks, who are in third place in the SLC, will play the Cardinals on Friday (6:30 p.m.), Saturday (2 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.) for their final road conference series.
On before he got the hit... "I was sticking with the approach I have had all season long. I was nervous the whole day and lost sleep over it again last night. I came in the first at-bat and told myself to calm down, do what you have been doing and put a good swing on it like I have been doing."
On the pitcher he was facing...
"We actually faced him last year. He isn't a flame thrower and he couldn't command his off-speed pitches today. He started me off with a breaking ball that he missed badly with so I think he was trying to get strike one with a fastball and I wasn't going to let it get past me, it was too good not to hit."
On getting to first base...
"It was great. Most important, not only was it a great crowd tonight, but I had my family in town. They had a four-hour drive to get here and they probably won't even sleep tonight they are all so excited for me. That was the most important thing for me was having my mother, father, sister and her husband there. That is my family and that is what is important to me."
On beating OU
"This win gives us momentum and that is important to us. It doesn't matter who comes out and plays us we want to play them hard and we want to beat them. That is something we can add to our résumé, beating a good team like that.