Following a 14-3 win over Baylor on Tuesday, a sense of optimism is gaining ground for UT Arlington.
The Mavericks are finding their groove at the plate, scoring 46 runs over their last six games. While both losses during this stretch came in a Sun Belt Conference series last weekend, the Mavericks feel like they’re turning a corner.
“That shows our potential a little bit,” coach Darin Thomas said. “We’ve just got to put it together a little more on the weekends.”
They’ll put that confidence to the test this weekend by traveling to play South Alabama for a weekend series in Mobile, Ala., starting with a 6:30 p.m. first pitch Friday.
Earning a conference weekend win hinges on getting strong outings from their starting rotation. While they’ve gotten a good start here and there, Brad Vachon, Jess Amedee and Zach Thompson have struggled to keep the Mavericks from playing from behind.
Opposing hitters are hitting .295 and have scored 66 runs in 1041/3 innings against Mavericks starters. Thomas has stuck with them all season, but this weekend he’s tweaking things a bit.
In a similar fashion as he used Logan Bawcom — currently on Seattle’s Triple A team — in 2010, Thomas will use Amedee as his primary closer on weekends. If he’s not used to close out a game on Friday or Saturday, he’ll be available to start on Sundays.
That opens up an opportunity for another pitcher to step in and earn a spot. On Tuesday, Daniel Milliman made his case to be that guy.
“Usually when you get to Sunday, you don’t need a lot out of your starter,” Thomas said. “It’d be nice to get a long outing, but usually you just piece it together like a Tuesday.”
Milliman shut down Baylor over four innings on Tuesday, retiring the first 10 hitters he faced and only allowing a run on two hits. Over his last two outings, the Fort Worth Southwest product has given up only one run in 91/3 innings.
After the game, Thomas said Milliman seemed like the obvious choice but wouldn’t commit to anything. He won’t announce his Sunday starter until Saturday.
“For me it’s not so big about starting or not,” Milliman said. “It’s about being available to help the team as much as possible.”
Whoever earns that start gets to face a South Alabama lineup that is hitting just .242 with one homer this season.