May 21, 2014
MOBILE, Alabama - Timely hitting and clutch pitching lifted No. 2 UT Arlington to a solid 8-4 victory Wednesday night over No. 7 South Alabama in the first round of the Sun Belt Championship.
The Mavericks (31-25) will face No. 6 Troy (25-30) on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Stanky Field. UTA went 2-1 against the Trojans during the regular season. Junior right-hander Zach Thompson (4-4, 4.86 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Mavs.
UT Arlington scored in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings to stake Daniel Milliman to an 8-0 lead. The senior right-hander improved to 6-0 after maneuvering through 5.2 innings without allowing an earned run. Milliman gave up five hits and walked five in throwing 109 pitches.
"I'm proud of the way we came out swinging the bats," UT Arlington coach Darin Thomas said. "And when you get an early lead, it takes a little bit of the pressure off you."
Travis Sibley drove in four runs, and John Michael Twichell and Matt Shortall backed Milliman with run-scoring doubles. UTA is riding a season-high eight-game winning streak, the program's longest since a 14-game unbeaten run in 1992.
"It all started with Shortall and Twichell getting big doubles and taking the pressure off pretty much everyone in the lineup," said Sibley, who went 2-3 and scored twice. "They've been doing that all year. And once that happened the pitchers on the other side started to tighten up a little bit, and I just tried my best to get my barrel on the ball."
The Mavericks took an early 1-0 lead on Twichell's double in the bottom of the second. Greg McCall drew a four-pitch walk with one out and hustled around the bases on Twichell's drive off the base of the wall in right-center.
UT Arlington added another run in the third inning following the same script as the second. Ryan Bottger walked with one out and came around to score on Shortall's slicing double to right-center.
The Mavericks scored twice in the fourth for a 4-0 lead. Darien McLemore came home Sibley's short pop to right that fell just out of reach of second baseman Davis Knapp. Sibley scampered to the plate on a wild pitch with the bases loaded.
Sibley cleared the bases in fifth with a three-run double down the left-field line, breaking the game open. Eric Tate followed with a double to right that scored Sibley for an 8-0 advantage.
Milliman didn't have an easy inning throughout his outing, but he kept the Jaguars off the scoreboard. UTA's defense made several nice plays for Milliman, including Miller gunning down a runner at home with a perfect throw from center to end the fifth.
The Jaguars (22-32) put runners at first and second with one out in the first before UTA worked out of the jam. McCall, throwing from his knees from behind the plate, picked off the Bud Collura at second and a popup ended the inning.