LAFAYETTE, La. -- UTA baseball will open its postseason run with an elimination game on Tuesday, facing Arkansas State at 4:30 p.m. CT at Louisiana's M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3.
UTA (21-33, 11-19 Sun Belt) has earned the No. 8 seed and will face No. 9 seeded Arkansas State at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday in a single-elimination, play-in-game. The winner will advance to the double-elimination format starting on Wednesday.
The Mavs own a series win over Arkansas State, claiming the last two games of a three-game series in April at Clay Gould Ballpark. UTA fell 6-4 in the opener, before bouncing back to even the series with a 4-2 win in the nightcap of a series-opening doubleheader. UTA then won the rubber match on Sunday with an 11-2 result. It will mark a rematch of the 2017 Sun Belt Conference Championships, when A-State posted an elimination game win to open the weather-modified tournament.
UTA will turn to junior right-hander Ka'ikepono Anderson (0-4, 4.54 ERA) on Tuesday for the start vs. Arkansas State. Anderson has made 13 weekend starts for the Mavs in 2018, working 67.1 innings with 76 hits and 15 walks allowed, striking out 49. Last Friday, Anderson worked 5.2 innings without allowing a run in a no-decision vs. Texas State, allowing just four hits and one walk, striking out five on 83 pitches. Arkansas State will turn to righty Bradey Welsh (3-4, 4.15 ERA) for his 14th weekend start of the year.
The Mavs have hit .262 as a team in 2018, slugging 41 homers and reaching base at a .350 clip. UTA has fielded .968, turning 47 double plays and throwing out 19 would-be basestealers. On the mound, UTA has a 4.84 team ERA in 483 innings, allowing 226 walks and striking out 366.
Senior Omar Salinas leads the team with a .304 average, slugging five doubles and two homers, driving in 17 runs. Zac Cook has added a .298 average with 10 doubles, two triples, one homer and 22 RBI, stealing 11 bases. Catcher Will Olson sports a .279 average with 13 doubles, seven homers and 30 RBI, sporting a .448 on-base percentage. Christian Hollie has hit .278 with 14 doubles, two triples, four homers and 29 RBI. Junior Noah Vaughan leads the team with 13 homers, batting .274 with six doubles, six triples and 32 RBI. Senior RJ Williams has hit .264 with eight doubles, three homers and 21 RBI. Shortstop Josh Minjarez has hit .256 with 10 doubles, four homers and 27 RBI.
In relief, UTA has seen a team-high 24 relief outings from junior righty Logan Austin (4-0, 2.44 ERA), who has a save in 48 innings, walking 18 and striking out 39. Righty Andrew Gross (2-0, 3.26 ERA) has appeared in 20 games, with senior right-hander Daniel James (1-5, 3.95 ERA) owning a team-high six saves.
Arkansas State (20-31, 11-19 Sun Belt) has hit .253 as a team in 2018, with 92 doubles, 41 homers and a .359 on-base percentage. Defensively, A-State has fielded .959, turning 45 double plays and throwing out 13 would-be basestealers. A-State has a 6.04 team ERA in 451.2 innings, walking 232 and striking out 359.
Bo Ritter (1-1, 3.72 ERA) leads the Red Wolves out of the bullpen, appearing in 21 games with four saves and 32 strikeouts in 38.2 innings. Kyle MacDonald, the Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year, slugged 15 homers and drove in 50 runs, batting .353 during the season.
UTA leads the all-time series with Arkansas State, 46-39, including a 3-2 record in neutral site meetings.
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