College Baseball

UTA baseball enters finale eying postseason

Thanks to a series win over Appalachian State last weekend, UT Arlington’s baseball team helped itself by making a road trip down to San Marcos a little bit easier to stomach.

Instead of needing to win two out of three against Texas State this weekend — although winning two guarantees a spot in the Sun Belt Tournament — UTA needs to win one and hope Arkansas-Little Rock doesn’t sweep Arkansas State on the road.

Considering the Trojans have lost 12 of their last 13 games, the odds aren’t in their favor to earn a sweep. But stranger things have happened.

UALR had a Sun Belt game canceled because of rain, which means it would earn a playoff spot if it came down to a tie with UTA. Thomas hopes it doesn’t come to that.

“That half game may get us if we don’t go out and take care of business this weekend,” coach Darin Thomas said.

After a miserable April, The Mavericks are 5-2 in May. It’s given them a chance to control their own destiny heading into a three-game visit with the Bobcats.

“Every time we play down there, it’s a dogfight,” Thomas said. “It always comes down to a big hit here or there, and that scares me a little bit.”

Fortunately for UTA, the Bobcats rank last in the Sun Belt with a .250 average and their pitching staff owns a 5.56 ERA. After starting conference play 5-1, Texas State has gone 7-14 to put its season in jeopardy.

Led by Granger Studdard (11 HRs) and Tanner Hill (8 HRs), Texas State hits for power in its wind-aided, offensive park. But the UTA rotation led by Chad Nack is the best in the Sun Belt in keeping the ball in the ballpark. They’ve only allowed 20 homers all year.

This is the first time the Mavericks have played Texas State in San Marcos since 2010, when they lost two of three in the final weekend.

Just get in

If the Mavericks earn a spot in the Sun Belt tournament, then all bets are off. Depending on how the final weekend shakes out, UTA could earn the fourth seed or completely miss the tournament.

It might not be the worst thing to secure a seventh or eighth seed. Over the last two seasons, UTA owns the series over the top two teams in the Sun Belt.

The Mavericks are 6-1 against top-seeded South Alabama and 5-2 against Troy since they joined the Sun Belt last year.

UTA at Texas State

Bobcat Ballpark, San Marcos

6 p.m. Thursday: RHP Chad Nack (5-4, 4.18) vs. RHP Lucas Humpal (5-6, 5.15)

6 p.m. Friday: LHP Brad Vassar (2-6, 4.07) vs. RHP Scott Grist (3-5, 5.78)

1 p.m. Saturday: RHP Joel Kuhnel (4-2, 2.90) vs. RHP Jeremy Hallonquist (4-2, 6.12)

Records: UTA 22-28, 13-14 Sun Belt; Texas St. 20-29-1, 12-15