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Texas-Arlington knocks out UTSA from SLC tourney

BEAUMONT – They may have a 27-34 record and a lowly fifth seed, but the Texas-Arlington Mavericks can say they have reached championship Saturday in the Southland Conference baseball tournament.

  UTA’s pitching tandem of Kyle Gainley and Ryan Riddle combined to limit a Texas-San Antonio offense to one run on four hits for a 2-1 victory in Friday afternoon’s elimination game at Vincent-Beck Stadium.

  Regardless of their opening-day 9-3 loss to Texas State, the Mavericks battled their way past a No. 2 seed Texas-San Antonio, whose record likely ended at 37-22.

  “We got lucky with UTSA beating Northwestern State,” UTA coach Jeff Curtis said. “It changed the bracket for us.

  “We still have a lot of work to be on Saturday, but at least we’re playing on Saturday.”

  UTA outhit Texas-San Antonio 9-4 and put together a brief rally against reliever Mark Ruffin (3-4) for a two-run, sixth-inning uprising.

  The Mavericks stranded 12 baserunners but it hardly mattered the least bit. Consecutive hits to right field by pinch-hitter Danny Slinkman and third baseman David McLeod brought home baserunners Kyle Rudy and Brock Wilson.

  Lefthanded reliever Ryan Riddle had to be as heroic for the winners as anyone. Riddle permitted two hits, no runs, no bases on balls and fanned two batters over four relief innings to record his season’s first save.

  Riddle’s flawless relief effort enabled starting pitcher Kyle Gainley (5-5) who also permitted two hits over five innings. The UTA win overshadowed a very solid mound performance by Roadrunners’ starting pitcher Caleb Barton who worked 3 2/3 scoreless innings.

  Arlington’s pitching pair completely dominated the middle of UTSA’s batting order. The second through sixth batters in the Roadrunners’ lineup went a combined 0 for 18 in the game.

  UTSA scored its lone run when Gainley encountered fifth-inning wildness. J.R. Voyles brought home Ryan Saltzgaber on a ground out.