May 28, 2010
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - The UT Arlington baseball team suffered its first defeat at the Southland Conference Tournament with a 5-4 loss against No. 1 seed Texas State Friday night at Whataburger Field.
UT Arlington (29-30) and Texas State (37-21) will face off again on Saturday at 1 p.m. with the winner advancing to play Lamar (34-24) in the Southland Conference Tournament championship game at 6 p.m.
Lamar advanced to the title game with a perfect 3-0 mark in tourney action and with a 9-3 win over McNeese State on Friday. The winner of the championship game will advance to the NCAA Tournament with the automatic bid as the champion of the Southland Conference.
"One thing about Brian is he is a senior and he is never scared out there," UT Arlington head coach Darin Thomas said of UTA starter Brian Watson. "He always keeps the ball down in the zone and he gave us the best chance to win tonight. We are very, very, very shorthanded on the mound right now and he did an excellent job out there tonight."
The Mavericks outhit the Bobcats 11-9, and senior left-handed pitcher Brian Watson had a standout performance in his first career start throwing 7.1 innings allowing four runs on seven hits with four strikeouts. But it was Texas State that scored three runs in its final two at-bats to stay alive with its third straight win after getting bounced in its opening round game.
The Mavericks led 4-2 after six innings and were led by Watson, who retired 14 consecutive Bobcats from the first to sixth inning.
Watson allowed two hits in the sixth, but got out of trouble with a fielder's choice groundout which left two runners on base for the Bobcats.
It was the following inning where Texas State inched closer with a sacrifice fly to left field, cutting UTA's lead to a run, 4-3.
Watson went back out to pitch the eighth, and after a base hit by Bret Atwood, Watson got Kyle Kubitza out on a sacrifice bunt to move the tying run into scoring position. Thomas then brought in sophomore lefty Calan Pritchard from the bullpen.
Pritchard walked Kyle Livingstone on four pitches and then allowed the game-tying run to score on Jason Martinson's RBI single through the left side to score Atwood.
Garrett Laird then entered to pitch for the Mavs and after he struck out pinch hitter Shaun Garcia on a 1-2 pitch, Texas State catcher Andrew Stumph singled up the middle to bring in Livingstone for the game-winning run.
"He was tired," Thomas said of Watson when he exited the game. "He was out of gas. He did his job. I also thought our relievers did a nice job. They got a couple groundballs that just got through. The base hit that gave them the lead was a two-hopper that just got through. I thought we pitched extremely well and we really competed on the mound tonight."
Pritchard (2-1) took the loss while Texas State ace Carson Smith (10-4) was the winning pitcher after pitching the final 2.1 innings out of the Bobcats' bullpen.
The Mavericks had a lead-off single in the ninth by Jesse Payne, but Jordan Vaughn and Michael Choice each went down on strike three and freshman Preston Beck ended the game on a lineout to left field.
Eight of the nine Maverick starters had a base hit, led by Choice (2-for-4), Beck (2-for-5) and catcher Chad Comer (2-for-4). Freshman second baseman Daniel Jordan was the only Maverick with a multiple RBI game going 1-for-4 with two RBI.
UTA scored the game's first run with an RBI groundout by Beck, who scored Vaughn after he reached base on a single up the middle.
The Bobcats took the lead with a pair of runs in the first, but Jordan gave the lead back to the Mavs with a two-run single through the left side in the second. Comer and left fielder Jake Pinchback scored on the single after both players reached base with consecutive singles to start the inning.
UTA grabbed its 4-2 lead in the fifth inning when Choice reached on his second base hit and later scored on a wild pitch.
Choice reached base in three of his five at-bats, giving him 71 consecutive games where he has reached base safely. Beck singled in the fifth and seventh innings to extend his career-high hit streak to 19 games.
Watson held the Mavs lead in impressive fashion as he sat down 14 consecutive Texas State hitters with the first out of the first inning all the way to getting the lead-off batter in the sixth inning out. In fact, Watson needed only 37 pitches to sit down the Bobcats in order in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings.