BSB: Special season comes to close for UTA
June 2, 2012
NCAA WACO REGIONAL
WACO, Texas – A special season for UT Arlington came to an end with a hard-fought 11-6 NCAA Regional loss to Baylor on Saturday afternoon at Baylor Ballpark.
The third-seeded Mavericks had the regional hosts down in their own ballpark, but the No. 1 seed closed with a flurry to remain alive in the double-elimination tournament. UT Arlington (36-25) lost both games over the weekend in its first NCAA postseason berth since 2006.
Despite the disappointing finish, the Mavericks have plenty to celebrate in 2012. The Mavericks claimed the Southland Conference Tournament championship to earn an automatic NCAA berth, won the sixth-most games in school history, and had a number of standout individual performances.
Baylor, the Big 12 regular season champion and a No. 4 national seed, found itself down 5-4 before stringing together seven straight runs to advance into Sunday's first game.
The Mavericks fell into a quick 3-0 hole after starter John Beck hit Baylor leadoff hitter Nathan Orf. Two batters later, Josh Ludy hit a slice down the right-field line that curved around the fair side of the foul pole. A two-out single by Cal Towey scored Dan Evatt, who walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch.
UTA had its chances to get on the board in the early innings. Preston Beck and Michael Guerra were at the corners with two outs in the first, but Preston Morrow grounded out to end the threat.
The Mavericks cashed in an inning later on Travis Sibley's infield hit to score Matt Shortall. It could have been a much bigger inning if not for a nicely-turned double-play on a hard grounder down the first-base line by Greg McCall with runners on first and second.
Preston Beck cut the Baylor lead to 4-2 with a monster solo shot in third. The junior right fielder sent a shot high over the pole in right, making up for a similar drive in the first that sailed foul. Beck's 14 home runs are tied for fifth all-time in UTA history for a single season.
John Beck's outing was done with two outs in the fourth. After hitting Orf for the second time, UT Arlington coach Darin Thomas turned to Adam Boydston. The lefty reliever, normally the closer, was used to keep the Mavericks in the game.
In the bottom of the fourth, the game became even closer. Jake Pinchback and Ryan Walker delivered a two-out singles to tie the score 4-4 to chase Baylor starter Trent Blank. Bears reliever Brad Kuntz entered to face Beck, who walked for the second time. Guerra couldn't put the Mavericks in front, popping up with the bases loaded to end the inning.
Shortall did give UTA that lead in the fifth, driving his sixth homer of the season over the wall in right-center. The smash by the sophomore designated hitter also gave the Mavericks their first lead at any point in the regional.
That advantage was short lived, as Baylor tied the game at 5-5 in the sixth. The Bears would rack up another five runs in the seventh and eighth innings.
The Mavericks came into the regional riding the high of a SLC tournament title and a seven-game winning streak. UTA is 1-10 all-time in five NCAA trips.
On Preston Beck’s home run as a turning point in the game: “I think it was a little bit. He hooked one foul earlier and the first time through the order we did not do a good job against (Trent) Blank. We talked about what we needed to do early and like (John) Beck said, not try to do too much and go the other way a little bit. I was proud of our effort. That is a 10-1 guy at home and we had just come off a stinker of a game yesterday. We got together last night and talked about it. I was proud of our effort, we faced good arms.”
On leaving the bases loaded in the fourth inning: “It always is a chance. Unfortunately there is no drill in practice to get a two out hit with the bases loaded. You either do it or you don’t. But then we come right back and we are in it, we just fell a little short in our bullpen. We had enough arms, in hindsight you look back and think you should have brought someone in a little earlier. Adam Boydston always does a great job for us. We stretched him a little bit today, he usually closes. He is our all time save leader, he kept us in it and that was key. He got us a chance to get back in the game, we just fell a little short coming out of the pen at the end of the game.”
SOPHOMORE SHORTSTOP Ryan Walker
JUNIOR RIGHT FIELDER Preston Beck
On Max Garner’s effectiveness: “He had a really good pace on the mound. He was throwing all three pitches at any count. It was really hard to sit down one pitch and look for it. I would say he came in there and played to his rhythm which got us out of sync a little bit.”
On Trent Blank’s effectiveness: “We knew he had a good record in the Big 12, I think he was 10?]1. He was very effective this year. We just had a game plan to hit it where it is pitched against him and not try to do too much with his fast ball running away. Try to just hit it where it was pitched was our main goal.”