May 17, 2014
ARLINGTON, Texas - UT Arlington completed a series sweep of Texas State and nailed down second place in the Sun Belt Conference with Saturday afternoon's 1-0 regular season-ending victory at Clay Gould Ballpark.
A pair of seniors were instrumental in the finale, with pitcher Brad Vachon earning the win and right fielder John Michael Twichell driving in the game's lone run. The Mavericks finished the series with consecutive 1-0 victories, their first two shutouts of the season and the program's first consecutive shutouts since 2006.
UT Arlington heads into the Sun Belt Championship next week on a roll. The Mavericks won their last seven games to finish the regular season 30-25, and their 19-11 record in conference trailed only Louisiana.
As the second seed, UTA will open the Sun Belt Championship on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. against the No. 7 seed South Alabama. The double-elimination league tournament is in Mobile, Alabama on the campus of South Alabama.
The Mavericks finished the regular season winning seven of 10 series in their first season in the Sun Belt. UTA lost its first two conference series, starting 1-5 in league play. The Mavericks are 18-6 in league games since.
"We didn't get off to the start we hoped for," UT Arlington coach Darin Thomas said. "We had a little higher expectations at the beginning of the year, but that's about as good a job as I've seen of a team rebounding and making the best of it. We had to do it against some good teams at the end of the year."
For the second consecutive game, a pitchers' duel developed as neither squad scored through the first five innings. Vachon improved to 5-5 after seven scoreless innings, striking out a season-high nine batters and allowing just three hits.
"That's the old Brad right there," Thomas said.
UTA senior reliever Keegan Hucul pitched the final two innings to earn his second save.
The Mavericks broke the scoreless tie with a run in the sixth. Twichell's one-out single to right brought Eric Tate home with the go-ahead run. UTA, which avenged a sweep at the hands of Texas State to open conference, finished with seven hits.
The game was also Senior Day for 11 UTA baseball student-athletes. Chase Weaver, Brandon Vinyard, Vachon, Twichell, Matt Shortall, Daniel Milliman, Greg McCall, Hucul, Peter Cuomo, Justin Copeland and Kasey Merck were honored in a pregame ceremony.
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