Just four months removed from hip surgery, UT Arlington closer Daniel James still has a second thought or two when a ground ball to the right side means he has to come off the mound and sprint to first base.
Like Tuesday night in the ninth inning against Texas A&M.
The junior right-hander got over in time to catch a low feed from first baseman Omar Salinas and jab his right foot at the bag barely in time to retire pinch hitter Cole Bedford for the final out in UTA’s 3-2 victory before a sellout crowd of 1,939 at Clay Gould Ballpark.
It earned him his ninth save in 12 appearances since he debuted with a four-inning save against Texas Tech on March 14.
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“It’s definitely back at 100 percent or more,” James said of his hip, which was operated on in December. “I’ve had no problems with it. I’m running around. The biggest concern is always trying to get over on a hit to first. It doesn’t seem to be any problem.”
It always takes good pitching because we’re going to face good pitching. It’s tough to score on Tuesday because of the people we’re playing.
UTA coach Darin Thomas
James was the last of five UTA pitchers, who combined for nine strikeouts against five hits and two walks versus an A&M team that came in on a six-game winning streak and was 7-1 in its last eight road games.
“It always takes good pitching because we’re going to face good pitching,” UTA coach Darin Thomas said. “It’s tough to score on Tuesday because of the people we’re playing. Really proud of the way our guys stepped up on the mound.”
Quintin Rohrbaugh’s single to left with two out in the third inning gave the Mavericks (20-17) a 3-2 lead after Aaron Funk scored on a passed ball to tie the game. In the second inning, Colton Turner’s sacrifice fly had cut the A&M lead to 2-1.
The Aggies (26-12) built a 2-0 lead on three consecutive singles to open the second inning, including Jorge Gutierrez’s RBI hit to right field, and Walker Pennington’s run-scoring ground ball to shortstop.
Tuesday’s crowd of 1,939 at Clay Gould Ballpark was the second-largest in school history, behind the 2,008 on Feb. 21 this year against TCU.
“They did everything that it takes to win,” A&M coach Rob Childress said of the Mavericks. “Give them all the credit. They went to a lot of different pitchers, and they all made pitches. We had some opportunities in the first three innings to score and hit into some tough luck, but they made some plays, too. And then from that point on, we didn’t have a chance.”
UTA relievers Austin Gardner (2-1), Trae Patterson and James retired 14 of the last 15 batters. Jake Wilcox started and pitched two innings. Dylan Schneider pitched a scoreless third and fourth.
A&M’s Turner Larkins (0-1) gave up three runs, one earned, in four innings, striking out five with pitch action that Childress said was the best he’d seen in a year from the junior right-hander.
We’ve kind of righted ourselves as a team.
UTA coach Darin Thomas
The Mavericks have won eight of their last 11. The crowd of 1,939 was the second-largest in school history, behind only the 2,008 in the Feb. 21 home opener this year against TCU.
“We’ve kind of righted ourselves as a team,” Thomas said. “We know what we’re up against. It’s a tough schedule on Tuesday, especially. The conference is tough. We’ve got some big ones coming up. I’m happier that we’re just playing good baseball. It’s a good environment tonight. That’s what kids want to play in. I’m just glad we came out on the good end of it.”