Baseball set for must-win series against No. 25 Texas State
May 18, 2011
ARLINGTON, Tex. - UT Arlington enters the final weekend of the regular season knowing it needs to win at least two of three games from Southland Conference-leading Texas State and get help.
If things fall right, the Mavericks could still qualify for the Southland Conference Tournament next week in San Marcos.
Even if the Mavericks sweep the No. 25 Bobcats, though, they will need some results to break their way to advance to the postseason.
The Mavericks are 13-17 in SLC games and have lost 10 consecutive games for the first time since 2007. They need to snap that skid early this weekend to have any chance of qualifying for the tournament.
The Bobcats, conversely, have already wrapped up the Southland Conference regular-season championship.
First pitch Thursday night is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Clay Gould Ballpark.
Here is a closer look at the series:
#25 Texas State (34-18, 23-7)
Friday, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, 2:00 p.m.
INSIDE THE SERIES: Texas State is 51-33 all-time against UT Arlington. The Mavericks have lost the last three in the series and nine of the last 11. The Bobcats knocked UTA out of the Southland Conference Tournament last season, dealing it both losses in the double-elimination tournament. UT Arlington has enjoyed slightly more success at home than on the road in the series, but is still just 16-19 against Texas State in Arlington. The last time the two teams squared off at Clay Gould Ballpark, the Bobcats won the first two games before the Mavericks salvaged a Sunday win in the series.
POSITIVE OUTING: Starting pitcher Collin Reynolds turned in his strongest start of the season in the game. The junior right-hander hurled 8.0-plus innings, holding the Cardinals to three runs on eight hits with three walks and seven strikeouts. Reynolds was in line for the win before the bullpen blew the lead in the bottom of the ninth.
BLACK AND BLUE: UT Arlington catcher Chad Comer secured his name at the top of the program record book in one category on Tuesday, though not in a particularly glamorous statistic. When Comer got hit by a pitch in the first inning at Texas A&M, he tied the career record for hit by pitch. Comer has now been hit by 27 pitches in his career, tying him with Danny Slinkman, who played for the Mavs from 2006-08.
SLC TOURNAMENT RACE: UT Arlington will start the final weekend of the season in ninth place in the Southland Conference standings. The top eight teams qualify for the Southland Conference Tournament, held next week in San Marcos. The Mavericks will have to win at least two games against conference-leader, Texas State, in order to have a chance to make the tournament. Here are the scenarios for the Mavericks to qualify if they sweep:
SAVING THE BEST FOR LAST: UT Arlington 3B Brian Nephew struggled at times during his junior season, but has enjoyed a spectacular senior season and finds himself among the league leaders in several categories. Nephew's .362 batting average ranks fourth in the Southland Conference. He is also fifth in the league in hits with 66 and tied for fourth in the league in doubles with 17. As UT Arlington's cleanup hitter, Nephew has been one of the team's most reliable run producers. He is also one of just three UTA players with more than one home run.
FRESHMAN PHENOM: True freshman OF/2B Ryan Walker has taken no time to adjust to the collegiate level this year. Entering the final weekend of the season, he is nine hits away from tying Preston Beck's record for hits in a freshman season (82). Walker is currently tied for seventh in the Southland Conference in hits (73) and ranks second on the team in batting average (.329) and stolen bases (10). Walker has led off for much of the year, but his clutch hitting has enabled him to collect 33 RBI, which is tied with Beck for the highest total on the team. He also leads the team in runs (40) and is second on the team lead in walks (27).