Prior to the opening series against TAMU Corpus Christi, the Maverick team was addressed by some of the senior leadership on the team. The message was clear about the expectations of not only the 2020 season but the three games against the Islanders as well.
Zach Cook was one of the seniors that challenged the team. Zach was also the Maverick that got the first at bat of the season in the first of a three-game series with the Islanders. Cook promptly homered over the right field wall to give UTA a lead they would not relinquish.
Cook was not the only senior to stand out in the opening weekend. Senior Andrew Miller got off to a hot start as well with 5 RBI in game one including a grand slam in the 3rd. Miller’s big day led to a Maverick 7-0 opening day victory.
The theme of Senior leadership continued through the weekend as in game two Miller contributed with another RBI on a day the wind ruled the outfield. Miller sent 4 balls deep to the warning track with one scoring Zach Cook. Senior Phil Childs was 3-4 on the day scoring two runs himself in a 4-1 win over the Islanders on Saturday.
Childs came up big in the Sunday opportunity to sweep. Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the 7th inning Tyler Rice pinch hit and laid down a two-strike sacrifice bunt then Childs pinch hit for catcher Sam Gotlieb and quickly singled, scoring Conner Aube (Bobby Bragan Collegiate Slugger Watchlist) to tie the game.
The single by Childs was followed up by two more run-scoring base hits. The first one by Zach Cook and the next one by Senior Anthony Dominguez. The three-run 7th would be all the Mavericks would need as they completed the series sweep of the Islanders.
While the Mavericks demonstrated some clutch hitting and Senior leadership in the opening weekend, the common thread in all three victories for UTA was dominant pitching from the UTA starters and bullpen.
Junior Carlos Tavera from Weatherford CC, was solid in his first outing going 5 innings, allowing 1 hit and racking up 6 strikeouts. He was relieved by Senior Wyatt Divis who pitched 4 solid innings with 3 k’s himself. Neither pitcher allowed a run.
Redshirt Junior Kody Bullard followed up on Saturday with his own quality start. Bullard has spent the last year putting in max effort rehabbing from an injury early in the 2019 season. Kody went into the 7th allowing only 1 run with three strikeouts. Bullard was relieved by Tanner King who joined the Mavs this season from Seward County CC in Liberal Kansas. King came in for an inning and a third. Tanner committed two balks in the inning giving the Islanders their only run of the game. He did record two strikeouts including the first batter he faced as a Maverick.
Senior Caesar Gomez came in to record a four-out save retiring each batter he faced.
Sunday’s finale put the cherry on top for the Maverick pitching staff. Junior starter David Moffat went 5 solid innings allowing 0 earned runs and getting 3 K’s. He left the game trailing 1-0, but relievers Cade Winquest and Caesar Gomez closed the door on the Islanders.
After the 3 run rally in the 7th Winquest who had come in for the top of the 7th, executed the shut down inning in the 8th, handing things over to Gomez for the save in the 9th. Winquest a Sophomore was up to 97 in his two innings of relief. He did give up 3 hits but had 3 strikeouts. Gomez was up to 97 himself recording one strikeout in the final inning.
Together, the Maverick pitching staff compiled an impressive .033 ERA for the series.
The experienced defence was solid as well in support, tallying up 6 double plays in the three games. The six double plays turned was second in the Nation to only Purdue who had seven.
Mavericks Head Coach Darin Thomas was pleased with the contribution of Senior leadership but gave credit to an entire team effort.
There is an abundance of expectation in Arlington with this 2020 team who was picked by the Sun Belt coaches poll to finish first in the West, but as low as 5th and 6th in the conference by many NCAA publications.
To a man, the UTA squad understand the talent they have on this years’ squad and the potential they have for a memorable if not historic season at Clay Gould Park. UTA will be a Mid-Major team to keep an eye on through the 2020 Road To Omaha.