Baseball can be strange sometimes.
Georgia Southern took Friday night’s game over UT Arlington easily despite being no-hit for six innings. On Saturday afternoon at J.I. Clements Stadium, the Eagle bats were much hotter and consistently sent line drives and hard grounders out into the field.
But UT Arlington’s defense was on point throughout the afternoon. The Mavericks robbed potential hit after potential hit from the Eagles, then capitalized on some fortuitously placed weak contact from their bats to earn a 5-2 victory.
Georgia Southern starter Seth Shuman was left on the hook for another tough-luck loss. The sophomore righty struck out five over seven innings. With the score knotted at 1-1 and two outs in the top of the seventh, Josh Minjarez got the end of his bat on a Shuman offering. The flare into right field scored a pair to give UTA the lead. Next up was Will Olsen, who got tied up on a fastball, but still managed to find space in shallow center for another Maverick run.
Conversely, it seemed as if the hardest hit balls off of Eagle bats were the most likely to head straight for a UTA glove.
Maverick centerfielder Phil Berthiaume was constantly on his horse, running down a handful of well-hit balls that seemed destined for extra bases. Minjarez made two costly errors in the seventh inning, but also ended two Eagle threats with difficult throws. UTA third baseman Easton Johnson also helped the cause as he speared a hard one-hopper and fired home to cut down Georgia Southern’s Jason Swan at the plate to keep his team in front in the fifth inning.
UT Arlington broke the scoreless tie in the top of the fifth when Zac Cook sent a two-out double to the wall in right-center to plate David Renning.
Georgia Southern pulled even in the sixth when Tyler Martin — who rejoined the lineup this week after breaking his hand on opening day — launched his first home run of the season into the pine trees in left field.
Shuman was finally worn down by the Mavericks’ two-out rally in the seventh and UTA added another insurance run in the ninth to nail down the victory.
The teams will meet again today in a rubber match, with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m.