It was all set up for the UT Arlington baseball team to do what the needed to do. Kadon Simmons, part of a big one-two punch for UTA starting pitching, goes 7 innings giving up two earned runs and leaves in a tie game. Dylan Schnieder comes in, pitches an inning of shut-out baseball and the Mavericks claim the lead. UTA enters the top of the ninth with a one-run lead.
Before I go further, I have detailed, far more than I wish was needed, how the Mavericks are one pitch, one hit or one bad inning away from being a great team (11 games here, another one here and the last time here). I've detailed eight Sun Belt games and a total of 13 with this pattern. Is this post going to follow that trend or deviate like last week's did.
No, it will be more of the same.
The normally reliable Jacob Moreland comes in and needs three outs with no runs to claim victory for UTA. After getting a strike out to start, Moreland issues a four-pitch walk. Ouch. A pinch runner then advances to second on a wild pitch. Double ouch. An infield single then puts runners on the corners with still a single out recorded. Then, on a 3-1 pitch, Texas State records a sac RBI bunt that ties the game. With a runner now at second and two outs, Moreland then finds his command and gets a strikeout to end it.
Then after two consecutive 1-2-3 innings from Moreland, he walks the leadoff man to start the 12th. Ouch. A sac bunt moves the runner to second. Moreland gets a groundout to give the Mavs two outs and a chance to escape, but Texas State's Mickey Scott gets a sure single and Texas State takes the lead.
Mavericks offense looked a little lost, but they had chances. UTA left four runners in scoring position in three innings, including the last one to seal the loss. Once again, this game featured one bad inning on the mound (two if we're counting the 12th) and the inability to get one more timely hit.
Now with Jacob Moreland having pitched four innings, how much will we see him later? If I'm Darin Thomas, I don't do anything else differently. He's your best pitcher out of the pen and there isn't much depth behind him and Schneider. But how effective is he going to be today or tomorrow?
Add in the fact that UTA entered the game in a three-way tie for fifth, one game back of fourth on a team they own the tiebreaker for (Troy lost, so UTA could have moved into sole possession of fourth place after yesterday), and the night was thoroughly disappointing.
This could easily be a team fighting for third, second, maybe even a conference championship. As it is, they seem to be fighting themselves. It may seem harsh, but look at the top teams in the NCAA. They make those hits. They make those pitches. That's why they are at the top. They don't cruise to 10-0 victories every game. They win close games. UTA is 3-4 in one-run games and 8-12 in two-runs-or-less games.
Another kinda shocking stat. UTA is now 15-13 at home. In the Sun Belt Conference, they are 5-8. They have lost their last four home games. They have won just one conference home series. Wow. Just wow.
Joel Kuhnel gets the start tonight.