You know a team didn’t have a good night when it loses to a school that is an offshoot of its main campus, as Texas did in a 7-5 loss to UT-Arlington on Tuesday evening.
“Arlington played the better game,” said head coach Augie Garrido. “That’s one of the things I really like about baseball is that it gives everybody an opportunity. They played the game better than we did tonight and they deserved to win.”
Texas’ loss wasn’t for a lack of the dramatic, though. The Longhorns mounted a promising comeback starting in the eighth inning, and by the end of the night had fans screaming “Texas! Fight!” for the first time all game.
It started in the eighth when sophomore Mark Payton worked a leadoff walk, and two batters later, fellow second year Erich Weiss knocked him in on a triple down the left field line to cut the deficit to three. Closer Corey Knebel came in to begin the ninth and shut the Mavericks down to keep his team within striking distance.
That’s when things got interesting for both UT schools.
Jacob Felts let off the final frame and grounded the ball in the gap between the shortstop and the third baseman to get the rally started. Freshman left-fielder Collin Shaw came up next and drove a ball down the right field line, which unfortunately for Texas, dropped right in front of the right fielder. Felts attempted to go from first to third on the play, but UTA’s right fielder, Preston Beck, made a laser of a throw to the third baseman and had Felts out by a mile, which is the kind of error teams just can’t afford to have in key situations.
“You know how many times we practice running the bases? Every single day,” Garrido said. “One of the rules is don’t make the first or last out on the bases.”
Still, the team rallied back from the blunder. Shortstop Christian Summers got hit by a pitch and then outfielder Tim Maitland walked to load the bases. At that point UTA went to the pen — but to no avail — as Mark Payton walked in the next at bat, sending Shaw home.
It was at this point that Garrido pulled perhaps his hottest hitter, Brooks Marlow, in favor of Alex Silver attempting to get a right-hander in to face the lefty. But the decision backfired, and the Mavericks brought in a righty to face Silver, who ended up striking out.
“Silver has been one of best hitters in the batting practice environment, so we do feel like he is a good hitter,” Garrido said. “But there was a left-handed pitcher in when I put Silver in, then we didn’t really have a left-handed hitter to put in when they moved to the righty ... so we got trapped there.”
Weiss had an opportunity to be the hero in the next at bat, but it wasn’t to be, as he grounded out to second to end the rally as well as the game.
It wasn’t all about the ninth though — numerous defensive miscues and a combined six runs scored by the Mavericks in the third and fourth put Texas in a hole that they just weren’t able to dig out of.