UT Arlington takes step up in class with both opponent, stadium

03/03/2014 8:34 PM

11/12/2014 4:08 PM

For the second year in a row, UT Arlington hosts a big-time team in a big-league ballpark.

The Mavericks square off against Texas A&M at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the first of two games they’ll play at Globe Life Park in Arlington over the next two weeks. UTA will also meet Oklahoma there on March 11.

This will be the first official baseball game played at Globe Life Ballpark since its usual tenant, the Texas Rangers, announced the stadium’s name change on Feb. 5.

UTA coach Darin Thomas said his team is excited to play on the major league field down the road from Clay Gould Ballpark, if for no other reason than to distance itself from another bad series.

The Mavericks lost two of three to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi last weekend, days after a 10-2 win over then No. 12 TCU. It’s that inconsistency that has defined UTA this season.

“We’re just struggling right now,” Thomas said. “That’s something we haven’t done in a few years, so hopefully we get it out of our system.”

UTA’s lineup is loaded with veterans from last year’s Western Athletic Conference champions, but the inability to put together a complete game has them reeling at 3-7. Since getting swept to start the season, they’ve alternated wins and losses.

Hitting isn’t the problem — they’re batting .283 and out-slugging opponents. They’ve been getting behind early in games and spending too much time catching up. The Mavericks are first in the Sun Belt in hits, but tied for sixth in RBIs, a trend indicative of their hitting issues.

“We just need to relax,” Thomas said. “We’re hitting, we’re pitching pretty well. We just haven’t been able to put it together into complete games.”

They’ll catch an Aggies team that’s having its own struggles. After starting the year 6-1, they were shut out twice and swept by Fresno State over the weekend. They’ll have to go through UTA’s top pitcher, Brad Vachon, in hopes of getting back on track.

This is the first of six games the Mavericks will play over the next eight days.

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