SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Matt Shortall's three-run home run in the first inning provided UT Arlington with all its runs for the game but it proved to be just enough as the Mavericks defeated Sacramento State, 3-2, on Friday at John Smith Field.
The loss dropped the Hornets to 33-22 overall and 14-12 in Western Athletic Conference games. The team also lost consecutive games for the first time since March 28-29. UTA is now 29-25 overall and 17-9 in league games. That record guarantees that Arlington will finish no worse than second. Sacramento State can finish the regular season anywhere between third and seventh. The team, however, has guaranteed a berth into the WAC Tournament which will take place next week in Grand Prairie, Texas.
UTA's first inning outburst came without an out. Ryan Walker singled up the middle and Derek Miller reached on a bunt single up the third base line. Shortall then hit his third home run in two days with a blast over the centerfield fence. After a bunt single to Greg McCall, the Hornets did not allow another hit until there was one out in the eighth inning (7.1 innings).
Sacramento State picked up both of its runs in the fourth inning. Freshman Nathan Lukes singled to center and moved to third on a single through the left side of the infield by fellow freshman Chris Lewis. Andrew Ayers drove in the run with a single to right and both runners were moved up on a ground out. That productive out allowed Lewis to score on a wild pitch but the team left a pair of runners on in the frame.
In the seventh, Rhys Hoskins, David Del Grande and Scotty Burcham each singled to load the bases with no outs. Dane Fujinaka's bunt attempt ended with a close force out at the plate for the first out of the inning. UTA then converted a double play when a slow chopper was hit right to the second base bag.
The Hornets also had a runner reach third base with two outs in the eighth inning but Lewis was stranded.
Ty Nichols (4-6) pitched seven innings allowing all four of his hits and three runs at the start of the game. Nichols struck out three and walked one. Brandon Creel tossed the final two innings with one hit and a strikeout.
UTA starter Zach Thompson (6-4) earned the win after pitching into the seventh inning. Three other Mavericks wrapped things up, including Daniel Milliman who retired the only batter he faced for his second save.
Burcham and Lewis each had two hits to account for half of the Sacramento State total.
The series will conclude on Saturday at 1 p.m. Prior to the start, the Hornets will honor five seniors who will be playing the final home game at John Smith Field.