May 21, 2009
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - Nathan Long broke the UT Arlington single-season strikeout record and Matt Otteman went 2-for-3 and hit his eighth home run of the season while helping UT Arlington to a 7-4 victory over Stephen F. Austin in loser's bracket competition on Thursday at the Southland Conference Tournament at Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi, Texas.
The victory for the Mavericks marked their first postseason win since claiming the 2006 SLC Tournament, the first career postseason win for second-year head coach Darin Thomas and the Mavs first win over Stephen F. Austin this season.
"It was a good win," Thomas said. "We talked last night about how disappointed we were and how just one win would get us some momentum and will get us into Friday."
The Mavericks used multi-hit games from five hitters to produce runs in six separate innings. Long, meanwhile, was solid winning his sixth game of the season while pitching 7.0 innings with eight strikeouts and scattering eight base hits.
The Lumberjacks grabbed the early lead with an RBI double in the first inning before senior designated hitter Mitch Putman hit his fifth home run this month with a towering home run over the left-field fence to tie the score at 1-1.
"We have been searching for somebody to hit behind out three .400 hitters," Thomas said. "Over the last month Mitch Putman has been doing a good job for us getting some hits in that spot."
UT Arlington never trailed again as Andrew Kainer put the Mavericks up 2-1 in the third inning with an RBI single through the left side, scoring Michael Choice who reached base on an infield single after the Mavs' first two batters recorded outs in the inning.
Long cruised through the second, third and fourth innings allowing only one base hit. The Mavericks jumped ahead 4-1 on Otteman's eighth home run of the season - a two-run homer over the left-field fence - to give the Mavs a three-run lead.
Stephen F. Austin wouldn't go away plating two runs on a homer by Zach Gardner and an RBI double by Brian Ferguson in the fifth inning to cut the Mavericks lead to 4-3.
Long's final strikeout of the game broke the Mavericks single-season all-time record with his Southland Conference leading 104th strikeout of the season. Long's milestone strikeout came on his 123rd pitch of the game, his final of the game, as he struck out Justin Long on a 1-2 pitch.
"That's pretty cool," Long said of his record-breaking strikeout. "I never considered myself a strikeout pitcher but this year I put a couple of extra pitches into my repertoire. There have been a lot of really good pitchers to come through here, so it is pretty cool for me."
Thomas feels Long's strikeout record is impressive considering the amount of talented pitchers that have pitched for UT Arlington.
"There have been some good arms that have gone through our program," Thomas said. "That is a big accomplishment."
Otteman finished the game 2-for-3 with three RBI, and he now needs just one RBI to tie the UTA single-season RBI record and only three hits to equal the all-time UTA single-season base hits record.
"It was a great win for our team today," Otteman said. "It takes a bunch of pressure off of us. We have one under our belts and can come out and have some fun tomorrow. It felt great to beat SFA, finally, after struggling against them this season. It felt good to come out and play a good game all around and to come out on top."
The Mavericks 3-through7-hole hitters all had at least two hits, including Choice (2-for-4), Otteman (2-for-3), Andrew Kainer (2-for-4), Mitch Putman (2-for-5) and Chad Comer (2-for-5). Choice, Otteman and Kainer are now batting a combined .550 (11-for-20) with five RBI. All three of them are batting above .400 this season.
Sophomore left-handed pitcher Adam Boydston entered with two outs in the eighth inning as he finished the game and recorded his ninth save of the season. Boydston struck out three batters in 1 1/3 innings pitched allowing just one base hit.
The Mavericks will play an elimination game Friday, May 22, at noon against the loser of No. 1 seed Texas State and No. 4 seed Lamar, who play tonight at approximately 8 p.m. at Whataburger Field.