Big Inning, Pitching Leads Mavs to First Round Win

Chad Comer scored the game-winning runs in the seventh inning with a two-run single

May 26, 2010

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - A four-run seventh inning broke a 4-4 tie and led UT Arlington to a 10-4 victory over Stephen F. Austin in the first round of the Southland Conference Baseball Tournament Wednesday night at Whataburger Field.

It was the Mavericks first Southland Conference Tournament opening-round win since 2004. The Mavericks will now face tournament No. 8 seed Nicholls (26-27) at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 27, in winner's bracket play. Nicholls defeated No. 1 tournament seed Texas State with a 13-2 (8 inn.) run-rule victory earlier on Wednesday.

"We knew we were going to be in a dog fight early on," UT Arlington head coach Darin Thomas said. "We have faced Tyler (Herriage) before, and he has given us trouble. I think we ran him out of pitches and took advantage of some breaks tonight. Jason (Mitchell) gave us all he had and then Logan (Bawcom) did a great job in relief. It was just a great team win."

Jason Mitchell (7-5) pitched 6.0 innings and struck out six to win his seventh game while Logan Bawcom pitched three scoreless innings and retired nine straight to finish the game and to notch his fourth save of the season.

With the Mavericks and Lumberjacks tied 4-4 in the seventh with two outs and the bases empty, SFA starting pitcher Tyler Herriage issued UTA All-American Michael Choice an intentional walk to put the go-ahead runner on base.

Herriage then walked cleanup batter Steffan Guest on four pitches and loaded the bases with a full-count walk to freshman Preston Beck.

Catcher Chad Comer came through with the game-winning base hit up the middle to score Choice and Guest to give UTA a 6-4 lead. The Mavericks added two additional runs in the frame with consecutive RBI singles from shortstop Jesse Payne and third baseman Brian Nephew. In the inning, UTA had six straight batters reach base with three walks and three base hits.

"That was a big hit for us when Chad drove in those runs," Thomas said. "We have to get production from Chad, he is one of our main guys hitting behind Mike in the lineup. That was huge for us."

Nephew launched his third home run of the season earlier in the game to tie the game at 3-3, hitting a two-run homer out to left field. He finished the game 2-for-5 with three RBI. "That was a big win for us," Nephew said. "Especially beating a good pitcher like that in game one of the conference tournament. You always want to come out of the gates hot in a double-elimination game tournament. But sitting around all day you never know how you will react. But we swung the bats well and Jason pitched a great game for us."

Payne also had three RBI going 2-for-4 and Comer had a pair of RBI going 1-for-2 with a game-high three RBI.

"People have pitched around Mike all season long," Comer said. "We have had Steffan step up and Beck step up lately, and I just haven't been stepping up at the plate. I've been working a lot with our hitting coach (K.J. Hendricks) on staying up the middle and hitting fastballs early in the count and not chasing breaking balls. And that was what I got. I had a fastball early in the count and I hit the ball up the middle."

Mitchell threw 110 pitches in the victory as he finished five of his six frames with an SFA base runner stranded on base. Mitchell allowed four runs and scattered seven hits while walking two and increasing his school-record strikeout total to 113 with his six strikeouts.

Bawcom made his first relief appearance since recording a save against Southeastern Louisiana on April 9. It was Bawcom's second three-out save of the year as he sat down nine consecutive hitters after allowing the first two batters he faced to reach on base hits.

"It is always big getting that first win," Thomas said. "We didn't win the first game last year and we didn't win the first game in 2008. This will also allow us to get some more rest, because now we don't play until 7 p.m. tomorrow night."

- UT Arlington improves to 23-24 all-time at the Southland Conference Baseball Tournament since its first appearance in 1993... Mavericks are now 2-2 in tournament games played in Corpus Christi, Texas (1-2 in 2009, 1-0 in 2010).

- Third year head coach Darin Thomas wins his second game in SLC Tournament action (0-2 in 2008, 1-2 in 2009, 1-0 in 2010) with a 2-4 record in three appearances... Thomas is 2-0 against the Lumberjacks (7-4 in 2009)... Thomas is now 65-5 when his team holds the lead after seven innings in his three seasons as head coach.... The Mavericks are 21-1 this season when leading after seven innings of action.

- UT Arlington is 2-0 all-time against Stephen F. Austin at the SLC Tournament... The Mavericks and Lumberjacks met for the first time in the SLC Tournament last season (UTA, 7-4) in Corpus Christi. UTA has played nine SLC opponents in 14 appearances at the tournament, only Louisiana-Monroe is a Mavs' opponent who is not a current member of the league.

- Mavericks snap a four-game losing streak in SLC Tournament opening round games... Before tonight, last win for the Mavs in a tournament opener was in 2004, defeating Texas State 9-7 in Hammond, La... Mavs went on to lose their next two games in the 2004 tournament.

- It was the fourth time in UTA history and the first time since 1999 (11-8 over Northwestern State in Monroe, La.) that the Mavericks had scored at least 10 runs in a tournament opener. UTA scored at least 10 runs in their first tournament game in 1995 (11-3 over Northwestern State in Shreveport, La.), 1997 (11-10 over Texas State in Monroe, La.) and 1999... Mavericks are a perfect 4-0 when scoring at least 10 in the tournament opener.

- UTA has won its opening round game six times prior to Wednesday... The Mavs are 3-3 in the second game of the tournament after winning its first game. The Mavericks had won their first round game in 2004, 2003, 2001, 1999, 1997 and 1995.

- Only three times (2003, 2001, 1999) have the Mavericks won their first two games of the tournament... each time UTA has made it to the championship game, having won the championship in 1999 and finishing runner-up in 1999 and 2003.

- The game marked the Mavs first game at a neutral site this season... UTA finished the 2009 season 2-4 on a neutral field.

- UTA improves to 26-14 this season when its starter pitches at least five innings... Mavericks are now 14-12 in night games... UTA improves to 14-11 against left-handed starting pitchers... UTA evened its record at 2-2 when playing on Wednesday... Mavericks are now 7-7 in the month of May (went 2-4 in February, 10-9 in March, 9-9 in April)... Game-time temperature was 81 degrees, giving the Mavericks a 9-6 record this season in games played between 80-89 degrees.

- Mavericks are now 10-1 this season when scoring at least 10 runs with their only loss coming at home against BYU, 10-11 (3/6).

- Michael Choice reached base for the 69th consecutive game going 0-for-3 with two walks... Choice has now reached base safely in 115 of his last 117 games played and in 154 of his 163 career games played.

- Michael Chioce's two walks in the game raises his career total to 123, just one walk out of tying him for sixth place on the UTA all-time career list (James Rains - 124, 1984-87)... Choice owns the second most walks in UTA history for a three-year letterman (Dave Owen - 155, 1977-79)... His season walks total of 73 is a school and Southland Conference record.

- Preston Beck improved his hit streak to a career-high 17 games going 2-for-4... Beck's 17-game hit streak is the longest this season by a Maverick.

- Chad Comer tallied his fourth game-winning RBI of the season... Comer also collected the game winning RBI for UTA earlier this season against Central Arkansas (4/24), Southeastern Louisiana (4/9) and UTSA (3/21).

- UTA's 361 runs scored ranks ninth in the program's all-time history.

- UTA's 599 base hits ranks sixth all-time in the program's history... Only five UTA teams have ever had over 600 base hits in a single season (2009, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2003).

- UTA's 117 doubles is tied for the fourth most all-time in school history (139 record - 2003).

- UTA's 318 RBI ranks 10th in the school's all-time record book.

- UTA's pitching staff has struck out a school record 444 batters this season... the previous all-time school record was set last season by the Mavs' pitching staff that struck out 410 batters.




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