It can be argued that the last two games have been the biggest wins of UT Arlington’s season.After letting the No. 2 team in the nation pull away late in the first two contests last weekend, the Mavericks rallied with four ninth-inning runs to hand Louisiana-Lafayette its first road loss of the season.The walk-off hero of that game, Eric Tate, turned around and went 3 for 4 with two RBIs to help the Mavericks beat Oklahoma on Tuesday in Norman, Okla.UTA hopes to keep the momentum going when the Mavericks travel to play a weekend series with Troy, starting at 6 p.m. Fridayin Troy, Ala.Tate has been a revelation for the Mavericks after recently stepping into the starting lineup out of necessity. When primary shortstop Peter Cuomo was lost in early April, coach Darin Thomas had to move pieces around to compensate. Cuomo, hitting .319 and arguably UTA’s most talented defender, was replaced by Tate.And the junior has hit the ground running, hitting .465 with 10 runs and nine RBIs in April.The Mavericks have bounced back from their worst start since Thomas took over in 2008 to put themselves into legitimate contention for a high Sun Belt conference seed. There are still four weekends to play, but before last weekend’s face-off with Louisiana-Lafayette, they’d won three straight weekends.Considering UTA came a few outs from winning that series, it’s clear to see the Mavericks have turned a corner from their 5-14 start.It helps that UTA’s Friday and Saturday starters are starting to settle into a groove. Over the last four weekends, they’ve gotten UTA into the seventh inning in all but one game either leading or tied. That’s a considerable improvement over the first six weeks of the season when the Mavericks were forced to play from behind in seven of the 12 early weekend games.The Mavericks are 15-8 when ahead or tied after six innings, a far cry from their dreadful 3-15 record when behind after six frames.This weekend they’ll face a Trojans team that only has two hitters hitting above .300, but one of those is a top hitter in the conference in David Hall. Hall is hitting .347 with eight homers and 31 RBIs. The Trojans have a swing-and-miss pitching staff that’s racked up more strikeouts than any other team in the Sun Belt.
UTA at Troy
(At Riddle-Pace Field, Troy, Ala.)
Friday: RHP Brad Vachon (2-5, 5.37) vs. Tanner Hicks (2-6, 4.55), 6 p.m.
Saturday: RHP Zach Thompson (2-3, 4.75) vs. Shane McCain (3-3, 2.61), 6 p.m.
Sunday: RHP Daniel Milliman (4-0, 2.41) vs. TBA, noon
Records: UTA 18-23, 9-9 SBC;
Troy 20-22, 7-10 SBC