By Cassie Logan | UTAMavs.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- It’s a five-year tradition in the making, but time will never be able to ease the butterflies and excitement of playing in a major league ballpark for the UTA baseball team.
The lights are brighter and the crowd is louder, and Tuesday proved there’s always a little midweek magic looming at Globe Life Park. The Mavs upset No. 4 Texas Tech in a 5-1 decision, the program’s second win over a ranked opponent at the home of the Texas Rangers.
UTA coach Darin Thomas thanked the pro team after the win for the opportunity to host UTA’s sixth Globe Life game, all a mix against powerhouses like Texas, Texas Tech, A&M, OU and TCU.
“It’s a great place to play,” Thomas said. “You don’t have to get your guys ready to play. We always bring in quality opponents and it was a great crowd, even though it’s spring break. Any time you can do that, it’s a plus for your program.”
The victory was UTA’s first over the Red Raiders since 1982, and its 30th all-time over a top-10 ball club. It also kept the standard of taking down ranked opponents year-by-year, marking the fourth consecutive season to trigger an upset. In 2015, the Mavs topped No. 14 Texas 6-5 in a 10-inning win on the big stage.
For first-timers like transfer Jordon West, who'd known since Sunday he’d get the start on the mound, it was “electric” experience like no other.
“The crowd was really loud,” West said with a wide grin. “The mound is beautiful and the field was really nice, so thank you to the Rangers.”
Junior Daniel James had a magical experience of his own under the big lights, one he won’t forget for the rest of his career. James made his first appearance of 2017 following hip surgery in the fall. A plan to toss one inning quickly turned to four after he fanned his first three batters.
It was a sign that his countless hours of rehab had a purpose, but to dominate against one of the most elite programs in the nation on a major league mound was priceless.
“It’s awesome being able to go out there and not feel any pain in my hip,” James said. “I have to give it all to the trainers. They’ve been grinding with me, pushing me to try my hardest during rehab every day. I was only supposed to have one inning, but I filled up the zone and it worked out well.”
The win was a confidence boost for the Mavs leading into Sun Belt Conference play this weekend with a trip at Georgia State. Thomas said after falling in close games early in the year, the team has to keep the mindset that good baseball wins games, no matter the opponent.
That sentiment rings true for games at Globe Life, as each game since 2013 has not been won by more than two runs. Two meetings have even reached extra innings. Thomas said he knows the team can’t win them all, especially against the nation’s top talents, but if UTA can keep teams on their toes, more opportunities will come to play on professional turf.
“You have to have a good relationship with the other coaches and I really appreciate that they’ll come down to play,” Thomas said. “We can also go home and home with some other people. We don’t win them all, but we’ve got a chance to bring in good people.”
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