What may prove to be the season’s toughest week for UT Arlington began with a 10-2 loss to No. 6 Texas at Disch-Falk Field on Tuesday night.
The Mavericks (16-21, 8-7 Sun Belt) struck first in the second inning, loading the bases with nobody out but only managed to score one. Ryan Bottger started the rally with a leadoff single and scored on an RBI groundout by Darien McLemore, but he was the only one to score in the inning as UTA left the bases loaded.
“We needed more than one, no question,” Mavericks coach Darin Thomas said. “That makes it 2-0, that might be a little different. Still, when it gets down to it, we need to do a better job of throwing strikes and making them earn their runs.”
Junior left-hander Zach Hobbs, making his first start of the season, cruised through the first two innings before surrendering three runs in the third, two on a go-ahead home run on a 1-0 changeup into the Mavericks’ bullpen in left field by Texas outfielder Ben Johnson.
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“We gave them a lot of free bases tonight, missed a lot of pitches,” Hobbs said. “It’s always different going from the bullpen to going out and starting. It’s a different mindset you have to prepare for.”
He lasted at least three innings in three of his 18 relief appearances this year, but Hobbs was pulled after just 2 2/3 innings Tuesday. He was replaced by fellow junior right-hander Jess Amedee, who killed the Longhorns’ (30-8, 9-3 Big 12) third-inning rally by striking out Jacob Felts looking with runners on second and third.
But Amedee allowed three runs in the fourth, only one earned. After issuing a leadoff walk to Kacy Clemens, Amedee fielded a sacrifice bunt by Zane Gurwitz and whipped around to try to force Clemens out at second and instead airmailed the ball into center field.
Amedee left after giving up an RBI single to Johnson, making way for Keegan Hucul, who promptly walked the first two batters to force in another run. Hucul settled down, but after a sacrifice fly by Collin Shaw, UTA quickly found itself in a 6-1 hole going into the fifth inning.
“We just have to realize that’s not our type of baseball,” Bottger said. “We came out flat and we just never picked it up throughout the whole game. We’re a better team than we showed tonight.”
Yet the Longhorns may not be the toughest team the Mavericks face this week as they prepare for a three-game series against Sun Belt leader and second-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette (34-4), which has won 24 of its last 26 games and lost only once in conference play this year.
“It doesn’t matter who we play if we don’t throw it over the plate,” Thomas said.
“If you put guys on base ahead of the hits, it’s going to be a long weekend. We’re better than that. Hopefully it’s just a one-night thing.”