UTA faces nation’s top baseball team in Louisiana-Lafayette

Posted Thursday, Apr. 17, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
A
More information

La.-Lafayette at UTA

Clay Gould Ballpark

Today: Brad Vachon (2-5, 5.34) vs. Carson Baranik (8-0, 2.40), 6:30 p.m.

Saturday: Zach Thompson (2-3, 4.82) vs. LHP Ryan Wilson (5-0, 1.38), 2 p.m.

Sunday: Daniel Milliman (4-0, 1.71) vs. Cody Boutte (5-0, 3.43), 1 p.m.

Records: UTA 16-21, 8-7 Sun Belt; ULL 34-4, 14-1 Sun Belt

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

The class of the college baseball world is coming to Arlington this weekend.

Ranked No. 1 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 2 in other national polls, Louisiana-Lafayette brings its potent lineup into Clay Gould Ballpark for a three-game Sun Belt Conference series against UT Arlington. First pitch is at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

“These are the games where I don’t have to say anything,” coach Darin Thomas said. “These games speak for themselves.”

The numbers for Louisiana-Lafayette (34-4, 14-1 SBC) are as gaudy as you’d expect from the team with the most home runs in college baseball — a .327 team batting average, 46 homers, a .536 slugging percentage, 64 steals, 8.4 runs per game. The top three hitters in the Sun Belt are all Ragin’ Cajuns hitting above .360.

While the Cajuns have been consistently dominant, the Mavericks have been on a roller-coaster ride since the season began. They sputtered out of the gate, were swept in their Sun Belt opening series and dropped to 5-14. That’s when their offense got hot and powered them to an 11-4 run to get closer to .500. They’ve since dropped four of their last six, however.

Plagued by an inconsistent starting rotation, the Mavericks have been forced to outmuscle opposing teams in winning three straight weekend series.

It’s helped that they’ve faced the two worst pitching staffs in the Sun Belt the last two weekends, but the task is much taller against the Sun Belt’s best staff.

Louisiana-Lafayette’s 3.11 team ERA far outpaces second-place UALR’s 3.73 ERA, and they’ve got the Sun Belt’s best pitcher in Carson Baranik. Baranik is 8-0 with a 2.40 ERA in nine starts, holding opposing hitters to a .202 clip. For good measure, the Ragin’ Cajuns even have the best fielding percentage in the Sun Belt. The dominance is covered in all areas.

It’s not as if the Mavericks are incapable of pulling off an upset or two. While they’ve struggled to find consistency, they’ve defeated TCU and Baylor and lost one-run games to Oklahoma and Texas A&M.

They’re counting on a big performance from Brad Vachon on Friday night to set the tone, something he was brilliant at doing a year ago. He hasn’t done much of that this year, but if he can locate his fastball and set up his breaking stuff, he can frustrate the swing-and-miss-prone Ragin’ Cajuns.

“We need to get seven [innings] out of him,” Thomas said. “I expect him to break out of this mini-slump he’s in.”

Taking just one game this weekend would help UTA avoid falling too far from its tie for third place in the Sun Belt, but they’ll need to play big to put a dent into Louisiana-Lafayette’s 14-1 conference record.

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?





Wednesday, October 01Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard
Week 5Full Scoreboard
Thursday
Minnesota 8:25 PM ET
Green Bay TV: CBS/NFL Network
Sunday
Chicago 1:00 PM ET
Carolina TV: FOX
Houston 1:00 PM ET
Dallas TV: CBS
Buffalo 1:00 PM ET
Detroit TV: FOX
Baltimore 1:00 PM ET
Indianapolis TV: CBS
Pittsburgh 1:00 PM ET
Jacksonville TV: CBS
Tampa Bay 1:00 PM ET
New Orleans TV: FOX
Atlanta 1:00 PM ET
NY Giants TV: FOX
St. Louis 1:00 PM ET
Philadelphia TV: FOX
Cleveland 1:00 PM ET
Tennessee TV: CBS
Arizona 4:05 PM ET
Denver TV: FOX
NY Jets 4:25 PM ET
San Diego TV: CBS
Kansas City 4:25 PM ET
San Francisco TV: CBS
Cincinnati 8:30 PM ET
New England TV: NBC
Monday
Seattle 8:30 PM ET
Washington TV: ESPN
Full Scoreboard
Wednesday, October 01Full Scoreboard
Carolina3Final | Box
Columbus «6
Washington1Final | Box
Buffalo «6
Pittsburgh «2Final | Box
Detroit0
Montreal «3Final | Box
Chicago1
Arizona2Final | Box
Edmonton «3
Full Scoreboard