A brisk and windy Saturday afternoon at Clay Gould Ballpark saw the UTA baseball team (18-10, 6-2) hang on for a tight 9-7 win against the University of South Alabama.
The Mavericks batted around in the first inning and jumped out to a five-run lead. South Alabama put up five runs between the seventh and eighth innings to climb back but were never able to tie the game. UTA added three insurance runs in the late innings that proved to be vital.
“It was just one of those days where you just have to compete,” head coach Darin Thomas said. “It’s not gonna be perfect, the wind’s gonna muck it up a little bit, but we came out on top.”
With winds of up to 20 mph and a wind chill in the 40s, it wasn’t your typical baseball weather at the ballpark, but the Mavericks’ bats stayed hot in spite of the cold.
Junior outfielder Connor Aube went 3 for 4 at the plate, driving in two runs and scoring two as well. He also added a pair of stolen bases and his 14th double of the season.
“I’m on the come-up again,” Aube said. “I was a little slow in the midweek, but everything’s falling back into place.”
UTA also got big days from junior infielder Josh Minjarez, who went 3 for 5 with two RBIs, and from senior catcher Will Olson.
Olson went 2 for 5 with a pair of doubles and an RBI.
“He’s been playing like a senior,” Thomas said of his catcher.
Senior pitcher Ka'ikepono Anderson started the game for UTA. Anderson got the Mavericks into the seventh inning with a four-run lead before the bullpen took over. He improves his record to 5-2 with the win.
“I didn’t have my best stuff today, but I just tried to get the best opportunity for my team to get a win,” Anderson said.
Anderson was also on the mound for the home opener at Clay Gould Ballpark in February, another cold, breezy game.
“The weather’s been up and down this year, but I just try to battle through it one pitch at a time, one at-bat at a time,” he said.
The Mavericks and Jaguars will square off again at 1 p.m. Sunday at Clay Gould Ballpark. The Mavericks will look to sweep the conference series.