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Texas Baseball Takes on UT Arlington

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The UT Arlington Mavericks come to Austin for a midweek game before the Longhorns begin the stretch run of conference play.

Photo courtesy of Schoolly_D

Texas gets a bit of a break tonight (relative to back-to-back midweek tilts with Rice) with a game against the UT Arlington Mavericks. UT-A enters Austin at 16-20 on the year ranked 144 in ISR with a mediocre 90th ranked schedule. A 3-1 week moved Texas back to #1 in ISR, #3 in RPI, #6 in Perfect Game's poll, #4 in Collegiate Baseball and #6 in Baseball America.

Texas can't just expect to show up and win, however, as the Mavericks have midweek wins over TCU, Sam Houston State and Baylor as well as close losses to Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Oklahoma. This is also a big week for Lukas Schiraldi who needs a bounce back week after last Tuesday's tough go against Rice.

As you no doubt know, Texas beat the crap out of Oklahoma in Norman last weekend. The Horns struggled on the mound and in the field on Friday but were truly dominant the rest of the weekend, outscoring the Sooners 25-5 outside of Friday's 3rd inning. Plus we got the below incredible catch by Collin Shaw to finish off OU.

It's interesting to look at how Texas produced those 25 runs and how that serves as a microcosm for the offensive resurgence as a whole. Take a look at the table below of every player's offensive stats for the weekend (adjusted to give Mark Payton a single in the 1st on Friday, that was no freaking error):

Player AB R H RBI
Marlow, Brooks 2b 15 3 3 3
Johnson, Ben lf 13 3 3 3
Payton, Mark cf 13 2 5 1
Barrera, Tres c 11 3 4 3
Shaw, Collin rf 14 2 4 0
Hinojosa, C.J ss 12 3 5 3
Carter, Madison dh 10 3 3 2
Clemens, Kacy 1b 12 2 4 4
Gurwitz, Zane 3b 12 2 5 3

Three players had five hits this weekend, three had four hits and three had three hits. Everybody but Shaw had an RBI and everybody scored. This may not be a killer offense, but it's a resilient one that can survive a 5-34 (.137) stretch from its best hitter as it has had to with Mark Payton over the previous eight games entering Sunday.

Texas is only .008 better than it was in 2013 in batting average, but the team's offense is night and day from last year as Abram alluded to yesterday. 2013 featured four guys hitting above the team average and only five above .250. 2014 has all nine regulars above .250 and seven of the nine regulars above the team average. What's more, the two regulars below team average (Marlow and Clemens) rank first and third on the team in walks drawn, making them offensive assets even when not getting base hits. Does having nearly all your regulars at or above your team batting average matter? The below handy chart suggests there's at least some correlation between a balanced lineup and good things happening in the postseason.

Year Horns = or > team BA Season Result
2002 7 Champs
2003 7 CWS
2004 6 Almost Champs
2005 7 Champs
2006 5 Regional
2007 5 Regional
2008 5 Regional
2009 6 Almost Champs
2010 5 Super Regional
2011 4 CWS
2012 5 Nada
2013 4 Nada
2014 7 ???

Resiliency is the name of the game with the 2014 Horns and it's the difference between 2012/2013 and this year.

Tonight's game marks the first of nine straight home games before the Horns close with six of their final seven on the road. First pitch is at 6 PM. Freshman Blake Goins will be on the bump to make his first start since getting rocked by Texas State over a month ago.

Hook 'em.