UTA and Georgia State are in the mix early on in Sun Belt Conference play, as both are sitting at 4th and 5th in the standings through the first few series’ of the conference season. Though this won’t be posted until the weekend is over, I’m going to post my thoughts on the series during the weekend.
Friday: Georgia State 5 – UT Arlington 2
Georgia State had control of this game seemingly from the first pitch of the game. The Panthers were able to scratch a run across the plate in the first inning and never looked back. Ryan Blanton got the game started with a lead-off double down the right field line, was bunted to third by Justin Jones, and later scored on a Caden Bailey ground out to shortstop. Georgia State picked up another run in the sixth as Joey Roach scoerd on a Rhett Harper single, which was all the run support that Panther starter Nathan Bates need. The Panthers added two more in the eighth to give themselves a five run cushion.
UTA was able to jump on the Georgia State bullpen in the bottom half of the eighth inning to make this one close. Eric Tate led off the inning with a single through the left side of the infield and the very next hitter walked. After a call to the bullpen, Tanner Houston earned a walk to load the bases for UTA. Brady Cox and Christian Hollie followed up with singles to score Tate and Willliams for the only Maverick runs of the ball game. Kevin Burgee worked a perfect ninth for the Panthers to seal the win in game one of the series.
Nathan Bates 6’7″ 200 lbs. RHP Georgia State WP (3-0) 7.0 IP 6 H 0 R 3BB 5 K’s
I love what I saw out of Bates tonight. He wasn’t perfect, as his WHIP was over 1 on the night, but he missed Maverick bats when he needed to most. He never got flustered when he gave up base runners, and was able to stay focused and maintained his speed whether he was in the stretch or the wind-up. I clocked his fastball on average around 90-94, but he touched 89 twice in the inning that I clocked him. He showed a change-up that didn’t have a ton of movement, but kept UTA off balance. I saw a little bit of a slider even though I never got an accurate reading on the pitch itself. His slide piece didn’t have a ton of movement on it, but it had tight spin that makes it great to throw right on the black of the right side of the plate. The pitch he went to tonight that I thought was a game changer was his curveball. He doesn’t throw it very hard at all, and I think that is exactly what makes it such a great pitch for him. It had good spin and break but averaged out at 68 MPH when I clocked him. Follow that up with a mid 80’s fastball, and throw both of them for strikes, and they both become unhittable. Which was the case tonight when he threw the two back-to-back. He was a little wild to begin the game, but settled down nicely with a pretty good lead for most of the game.
Chad Nack UTA LP: (2-2) 7.0 IP 11 H 5 ER 1 BB 4 K’s
The runs and hits are a little misleading for Nack on the night. While I’m willing to concede that he didn’t have his best stuff tonight (he said as much after the game), he battled for every out of those seven innings. His fastball averaged 85 MPH, but he did hit 88 MPH more than once while I was clocking him. His off-speed sat between 80-82 with good movement. The thing that I felt was missing for Nack at the beginning of the game was the sit-him-down pitch. Nack didn’t struggle with finding the strike zone, as he was throwing more than one pitch for a strike in the count. Where he got into some trouble was when he was looking for that “out pitch”. A lot of that credit has to go to Georgia State as they were able to lay off the pitches that were meant to expand the zone. They also fouled off the tough ones in the zone until they could barrel on up. As the game went on, Nack settled into more and more of a groove on the mound and really kept UT Arlington in this one for most of the night when the offense wasn’t getting the timely hits they needed. I like what I saw from Nack on Friday night.
Every Panther starter had a hit on the night while the 1-4 hitters were a combined 5 for 17 with 2 runs scored and 2 RBI. Joey Roach paced the offense for Georgia State on the night going 3 for 4 with 2 runs scored. Roach is second on the team in home runs (5, trails Matt Rose who has 8), and is also second on the team in extra base hits (12, Rose has 17).
UTA had nine hits of their own on the night with two of them coming from senior shortstop Travis Sibley. Sophomore first basemen Brady Cox added two of his own and an RBI, as did outfielder Christian Hollie. Senior Eric Tate didn’t have his best night of the season, but did go 1 for 4 with a run scored and a base-on-balls. He’s a guy that the Mavs look to for a spark. Junior Darien McLemore went 1 for 5 with two strikeouts on the night. One guy the Mavericks are really missing from the lineup right now is senior Levi Scott, who is out with an injury at the moment.
Game 2 Georgia State 6-4/11 Innings
UT Arlington let a one run lead slip away in the seventh inning on Saturday as they again fell to the Panthers of Georgia State. Maverick freshman lefty Brad Vasser pitched very well in six innings of work, only allowing one run on four hits with five strikeouts.
On the flip-side, Georgia State senior lefty Kenny Anderson was effectively wild in his 5.1 innings for the Panthers. He only allowed two runs on four hits but did average more than one walk per inning (6). Despite being a little bit wild, Anderson’s fastball sat high 80’s for most of the outing while touching 89 on the gun in the innings that I put a radar on him. He also flashed a high 70’s change-up, and a low 70’s slider. He maintained a good presence on the mound and showed an impressive pick-off move to first base that caught a runner napping. Much like the Panthers Friday night starter, Nathan Bates, Anderson was able to make the pitches he needed when Maverick runners were on base.
UTA reliever Colin Tornberg got the loss, but pitched 2.1 innings out of the bullpen. In the outing, Tornberg flashed a strong fastball that sat 88-91 and topped at 92 MPH. He flashed a change-up that was at 77 (only clocked it once). He got into trouble in the 11th when Davis Levy singled and Ryan Blanton doubled to lead-off the inning. Justin Jones then flied out into foul territory in right field deeply enough to allow Levy to score the go-ahead run.
Other Names to know from the series:
GSU Joey Roach 5’11” 200 LBS Senior Catcher /Friday: 3-4, 2 R, ;Saturday: 3-5, RBI, BB
-Really like his bat, has decent power to the pull side.
-I don’t have an official on his pop-to-pop (2.18 on throw down between innings), but his arm has some life. Saw him gun down more than one hitter this weekend.
GSU Matt Rose 6’4″ 195 LBS Junior RHP/IF /Friday: 1-3 1 RBI, K; Saturday: 0-4, 2 BB
-He hasn’t flashed the bat as much in the series as I was hoping to see, but he has significant power to the pull side and really jumps on the fastball. Even when he isn’t getting hits, he finds a way to get on base.
UTA Eric Tate 5’10” 187 LBS Senior INF /Friday: 1-4, R, BB; Saturday: 0-3, 3 BB
-Eric Tate is one of the best players in the country in getting on base. Like GSU’s Rose, even when Tate isn’t tearing the cover off the ball, he is getting on base. He also has decent speed that can reek havoc on pitchers and defenses. While I don’t think he projects as a third baseman at the next level, he has good range and a good arm.
UTA Darien McLemore 5’9″ 209 LBS Junior INF /Friday: 1-5, 2B ; Saturday: 1-5.
-He’s the son of former Major Leaguer, Mark McLemore, and is built like a rock. He’s got a good arm, and is much improved with his glove from a year ago. His batting average is a little low (.179), but if you ask UTA Head Coach Darrin Thomas, he’d tell you that McLemore is definitely a leader on the team at the plate and in the field.
UTA Matt McLean 5’11” 190 LBS Junior OF /Friday: 1-2, 2 BB; Saturday: 1-5, R, BB
-McLean is a guy that has been a little under the radar for the Mavs in the early going this season. He’s been very impressive for UT Arlington posting a .356/.370/.484 through 24 games played. He leads the team in runs scored (18) out of the lead-off spot. His slugging percentage is a little low because he only has one extra base hit on the season, but he’s getting on-base 48 percent of the time.
UTA Travis Sibley 5’8″ 154 LBS Senior INF /Friday: 2-5, 2B; Saturday: 2-6
-Travis Sibley isn’t very big, and he’s not going to hit a lot of home runs, but what he lacks in power, he more than makes up for in leadership and effort. He’s a third year starter for UTA who stepped up to the plate (pun intended) when the team needed him to in the Southland Conference Tournament in 2011. Sibley (.330/.456/.384) leads the team in RBI’s on the season with 19 and has 10 extra base hits in 25 games played.
Sunday was a very slow day offensively for both squads, and the pitchers are the reason why. Georgia State scored in the first inning every day this weekend and that lead really gave their starters a chance to settle in before they even had to go out to the mound. Ryan Blanton led-off the game with a double to left-center and advanced to third on a sac bunt by Justin Jones, before scoring on a ground out by Caden Bailey.
That was the only run of the game until UT Arlington got on the board in the fifth. Christian Hollie was hit-by-pitch and TJ Hillman followed that up two hitters later with a walk. Travis Sibley tied it up two hitters later with a single up the middle to score the Mavericks’ only run of the afternoon.
The winning run of the game was scored on a wild pitch from Zach Hobbs in the top of the 11th with Trae Sweeting on third.
Players of Note
Matt Rose JR: 2-4
Joey Roach JR: 1-4
Cole Uvila JR: 6.0 IP, 6H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 6 SO
Had the off-speed working all day as he combo’d the slider with a high 80’s, low 90’s fastball which made him very hard to hit.
Joel Kuhnel SOPH: 9.1 IP, 9H, 2ER, 1BB, 4 SO
Changes speed very well on a fastball that I clocked anywhere from 84-89 on average (hit 91). He was able to get the Panthers out very early in counts.
Eric Tate SR: 0-5
Travis Sibley SR: 1-4, RBI
Matt McLean JR: 2-4