JACKSON, Miss. – Clutch hitting helped UT Arlington prevail in its 6-4 victory over Arkansas State on Friday night at Smith-Wills Stadium as the Mavs were an impressive 7-of-15 from behind the plate with two outs on the board.
“When you go out and don’t walk anybody that gives your team a chance to win,” UT Arlington coach Darin Thomas said. “I thought we pitched it well all night and had some timely hitting. Their starter is really good and we were able to score some single runs in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings which took some pressure off. It was a really, really good team win for us.”
The win pushes UT Arlington to 4-5 on the season and 1-0 in Sun Belt play while Arkansas State falls to 7-4 with an 0-1 conference mark.
Chad Nack (2-0) was impressive in his time on the mound as the senior RHP went six innings, giving up nine hits and two earned runs while striking out five Red Wolves’ batters. Nack’s win was solidified thanks to strong outings by relief pitchers Daniel James and Colin Tornberg who combined to pitch three innings with two hits and two earned runs allowed while fanning three Arkansas State batters. Tornberg’s efforts were rewarded with his second save of the season. The Mavericks also allowed no walks for the first time in the 2015 campaign.
UTA got the first run of the day in the second inning when a Jerame Littell single up the middle paired with a Brady Cox single through the left side put the Mavs on top 1-0. In addition to his prowess in the box for UT Arlington, Cox also showed his ability behind the plate as he caught Arkansas State base runners attempting to steal second base twice in the first and second innings.
“I thought his two throw outs early in the game set the tone for us,” Thomas said of the Fort Worth native. “He was really good and had a couple of big hits and grinded out a couple of at bats. He was just really good back there for us.”
With two outs on the board and a runner on first base in the third inning, the Red Wolves were able to tie the game at one run apiece with a triple to right center field.
Cox came to the plate in his second at bat of the day with two outs in the inning and gave UTA an offensive spark with his single to right field that pushed Cody Farrell to third base. Senior Travis Sibley then came to the plate and brought in Farrell with a deep double to left center field that put the Mavs back on top by one run. Cox ended the day 2-of-3 at the plate with one run scored and one RBI.
After the first two runners for UTA went down on a ground out and a fly out in the top of the fifth inning, Levi Scott got things rolling with a single up the middle. Jackson Morris then made things interesting with his two-out single to center field that advanced Scott to third. When Morris made his way to steal second base, the Arkansas State catcher let a passed ball slip by which gave Scott enough room to cross the plate and give the Mavs a two-run lead.
Arkansas State cut UT Arlington’s lead down to one run once again at 3-2 in the sixth inning when a double down the right field line coupled with a single through the right side brought in one run.
After Eric Tate reached base on a walk in the seventh, he then proceeded to steal second and third base to put himself on third with one out on the board and Scott in the box. Scott then hit a sacrifice fly to center field that brought in Tate to push the Mavs lead to two runs at 4-2. Tate ended the day 2-of-4 at the plate with two runs scored and one double.
Looking to add to UTA’s lead in the eighth inning, Christian Hollie recorded his first hit of the day to bring in Cox to push UTA’s lead to three runs at 5-2.
Looking to close the Mavericks gap in the eighth inning, the Red Wolves recorded doubles in back to back at bats to bring in a pair of runs to cut UTA’s lead to one run.
Tanner Houston came up big in his lone at bat of the day as he registered a single to right center field that brought in Tate to push the Mavericks lead to two runs heading into the final half inning.
With Sunday’s doubleheader against Arkansas State scheduled to start at 1 p.m., Thomas will look for his team to string runs together as opposed to the single-run innings that it used to defeat the Red Wolves on Friday night.
“We scored single runs in six innings and you’d like to punch them a little more than we did, but we had our chances and just didn’t get it done,” Thomas added. “Hopefully we’ll put up a crooked number tomorrow at some point.”
– Chad Nack made his 77th career appearance on the mound for UTA which ties him for 5th all time in UTA history.
– The Mavs 7 p.m. first pitch time was delayed by nearly an hour after the game before the Sun Belt matchup, featuring Belhaven and Middle Georgia State, went 14 innings.
– Travis Sibley extended his on base streak to nine straight games of reaching a base for UTA.
– Darin Thomas goes to 4-2 all-time against Arkansas State with a 2-0 record on a neutral field.