March 3, 2011
ARLINGTON, Tex. - UT Arlington coach Darin Thomas thought entering the season that his pitching staff boasted strong depth.
Each of UT Arlington's last four games has been decided by one run. During that time it has been the bullpen that has largely given the Mavericks opportunities to steal games late.
Over the last four games, the UTA bullpen has compiled a 0.95 ERA (two earned runs in 19.0 innings). It hasn't been one player but rather a collection of pitchers that have been so effective over that time.
The Mavs have gotten solid long relief - such as the 5.0 innings Collin Reynolds gave the team Tuesday against No. 2 Oklahoma. They have also had good situational pitching - like southpaw Brody Walker striking out the lefty he faced against Missouri State and getting an Oklahoma lefty to hit into a double play. Walker retired just two batters in those two appearances, totaling three outs.
"I think they've done an outstanding job that will pay off for us in the long run," Thomas said. "It gives us some guys we can count on."
Part of the key has been figuring out how to use the components successfully.
The UTA staff has done a great job in the last week of putting relievers in positions to succeed. Case in point: John Beck made his UT Arlington debut last week against Dallas Baptist. The true freshman threw a pair of scoreless innings, holding the Mavs in the game.
During Beck's 2.0 innings, he struck out one and walked two while not allowing a hit to the Patriots. Still, the coaches pulled Beck after the 2.0 innings and 40 pitches to keep him fresh for later and also to make sure he didn't run out of gas.
End result for the bullpen against DBU: 5.0 innings, no hits, no runs.
That's the good thing about having so much depth: Coaches don't need to worry about turning to the next man because he is capable of handling the job.
"We're starting to define some roles and seeing who we can count on but for the most part we're getting it done," Thomas said.
The next key is getting potential closer Preston Beck some work - something the team hopes to accomplish this weekend at the Dallas Baptist Invitational.
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