With its ticket already punched for Wednesday’s opening of the conference tournament, the UT Arlington baseball team makes one final trip to the West Coast to wrap up the regular season with a three-game series with Sacramento State.First pitch is at 5 p.m. Thursday at John Smith Field in Sacramento, Calif.The Mavericks (27-25, 15-9) have a chance to win the Western Athletic Conference in their first and only season as members with a big weekend and a little help. CSU Bakersfield (17-7) sits two games ahead and took two out of three from UTA earlier this season, so one win over San Jose State dashes any Mavericks regular-season title hopes.It’s a bit of a reach to expect an upset sweep while getting one of their own, so the Mavericks hope to take two out of three and clinch the No. 2 seed. This setup was possible because of Darien McLemore’s game-winning, 14th-inning single over Texas State on Saturday and UTA’s 10-2 win on Sunday.Sacramento State (33-20, 14-10) sits just one game behind UTA after winning three straight weekend series over the WAC’s bottom three teams.The Hornets’ pitching staff is the best in conference outside of CSU Bakersfield’s. While they don’t rack up strikeouts, their top-ranked defense bails them out. No Hornets pitcher who’s thrown more than two innings has an ERA over 4.75.While this hasn’t been UTA’s most prolific offensive team, the Mavericks have done enough to win five of its eight conference weekends. Matt Shortall, the Mavericks’ top hitter, has driven in 47 runs and belted five homers to complement his .368 batting average. No other Maverick is hitting over .306.UTA has never played Sacramento State, and this is just the second time this year they’ll play in the Pacific time zone. The Mavericks dropped two out of three to Seattle U on April 20-21.A sweep would give UTA 30 wins for the second year in a row.
UTA at Sacramento State
John Smith Field, Sacramento, Calif.
Game 1: RHP Brad Vachon (6-4, 3.03) vs. RHP Brennan Leitao (8-2, 2.45), 5 p.m. Thursday
Game 2: RHP Zach Thompson (5-4, 5.43 ERA) vs. RHP Ty Nichols (4-5, 3.68), 5 p.m. Friday
Game 3: TBA vs. RHP Tanner Mendonca (2-4, 4.75), 3 p.m. Saturday