The road hasn’t been kind to the UT Arlington baseball team, which is why this weekend’s series with McNeese State means something to the struggling Mavericks.Hosting their last series before going back on the road for the next eight games, the Mavericks can give themselves a little wiggle room by winning this final nonconference weekend series with a familiar opponent. The series begins at 6:30 tonight at Clay Gould Ballpark.Since starting the season 8-4 behind a home-heavy schedule, the Mavericks have lost three of their past four games on the road heading into their only meeting with a Southland Conference team this season.McNeese State and UTA have been split as evenly as they come over the past 40 years. In 120 meetings since 1973, the series is tied 60-60. The Cowboys swept UTA in Lake Charles, La., last season when the two teams combined to score only 12 runs, but the Mavericks ousted them from the conference tournament 10 days later.The Cowboys feature two starting pitchers who will make the Mavericks work to score runs. Freshman Bryce Kingsley has struck out 28 hitters in 26 2/3 innings, while Blake Ware has been the Cowboys’ top pitcher by allowing only six earned runs in 30 1/3 innings. He came within an out of a shutout in a 4-2 win over UTA last season, but the Mavericks beat him in that conference tournament win.Over the last week, Mavericks pitchers have given up nine runs and 5 1/2 walks per game, putting extra pressure on their lineup to clean the mess.The lone bright spot in the UTA rotation has been Brad Vachon, who has a team-low ERA of 1.54. Although he was responsible for four earned runs in one inning two weeks ago, that was the only time he’s left a game having given up a run.Little RockedRyan Walker drove the second pitch he saw against Arkansas-Little Rock on Tuesday over the right-field fence for the first home run of his collegiate career.Turns out he picked a bad day to do it.Powered by nine hits, seven walks and a pair of homers, UALR scored in the first five innings and pelted their way to a 12-2 victory, handing UTA its worst loss of the season.The Mavericks only mustered three more hits and a run.
UTA (9-7) vs. McNeese State (8-7)
Clay Gould Ballpark, Arlington
Game 1: 6:30 p.m. Friday
Game 2: 2 p.m. Saturday
Game 3: 1 p.m. Sunday