UT Arlington has made a habit of playing tight games at Globe Life Park over the years.
The Mavericks beat Texas in extra innings last year and played TCU, Oklahoma and Texas A&M to one-run losses over the last three years.
After a big second inning, Texas Tech looked set to buck that trend with a blowout win, but the Mavericks clawed back and came within two despite falling short in a 6-4 loss Tuesday night at Globe Life Park.
Texas Tech (10-6) blew UTA’s annual Globe Life Park game wide open with a six-run second inning that gave the Red Raiders a sizable lead that the Mavericks were forced to crawl back from.
After a solid first inning, UTA starter Matt Michalski collapsed in the second. The big right-hander struggled to find the strike zone, walking three and hitting a batter. He loaded the bases and surrendered a game-changing grand slam to Tyler Neslony that put the game out of reach.
“It’s command for him,” coach Darin Thomas said. “At this level when you walk guys, they’re going to score. That’s just going to happen.”
When the Mavericks (10-8, 2-1 Sun Belt) failed to score in the bottom half of the inning after a Jerame Littell leadoff triple, it looked like they were in for a long night.
But they didn’t back down, and set their sights on scattering runs here and there.
They broke through in the third and fifth innings to cut the Red Raiders lead in half. RJ Williams singled and Christian Hollie followed with a triple. Quintin Rohrbaugh scored Hollie from third on a hard-hit grounder to first.
In the seventh, Brady Cox scored Rohrbaugh from first when he doubled over the head of center fielder Tanner Gardner that brought UTA within two.
Cox led the Mavericks with a 2-for-4 night and a pair of RBIs, but there’s a lot of room to grow from the loss.
“We really battled back and got a lot of help from our bullpen, but we just ran out of game there at the end,” Cox said.
The Mavericks had a chance because the UTA bullpen was lights out. The Red Raiders managed only two hits in the final 7 1/3 innings against Dylan Schneider, Jacob Moreland and Daniel James.
James, a Lubbock native, entered in the eighth inning and struck out three over two perfect innings.
“Our bullpen hung zeros for seven innings, and that kept us in the game,” Thomas said.
And the bullpen got help from a great night at the plate. The Mavericks belted out 11 hits and got multi-hit games from their 2-6 spots in the lineup.
But they couldn’t convert with men in scoring position. They were just 1-for-11 with runners on second or third and failed to drive home the key hit late.
Texas Tech closer Robert Dugger didn’t even allow a base runner in the last two innings, and he struck out Williams and Hollie to end the game.