McCarty hopes to gain momentum in the UTRGV series

Caden Greened, junior pitcher from Denton, throws the ball to the first basemen. (Photo by Hannah Park)

The Wildcats are set for a three-game homestand against the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros this weekend, and head baseball coach Rick McCarty’s squad is looking to build on last weekend’s conference success after beating the Utah Tech Trail Blazers.

The upcoming series marks the first of three to end their seasons and is one of two against teams in the bottom half of the Western Athletic Conference.

The Vaqueros are having an up and down season, sitting just above .500 after winning last weekend’s series against Stephen F. Austin at home.

UTRGV has a conference record of 10-11, is ranked seventh and is teetering on the edge of a WAC tournament berth in Mesa, Arizona. A series win against the Wildcats, who are ranked third in the conference, would put them in the right direction to end their season.

Despite their opponent’s record, this weekend will be important for McCarty and the Wildcats. The Wildcats have a lot of momentum despite an 8-6 loss to BYU on Monday. Their series sweep of Utah Tech showed they can win the first game of a conference series, something they had failed to do in their first six conference series.

The likely starters for ACU include the usual three-game series. Graduate and right-handed pitcher Austin Glaze will get the ball against UTRGV on Friday evening.

“He’s had a really good month leading up to last week,” McCarty said. “For whatever reason, we fell on the wrong side.”

Game two will feature Iain Campa, a junior from El Paso, who has a 6-2 record and posts a 3.58 ERA in 50.1 innings pitched this season. UTRGV starts Francisco Hernandez. The 6-foot-1 redshirt junior is on a roll coming off a win against Stephen F. Austin last weekend, where he pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on six hits and striking out nine.

Game three will feature Rick McCarty’s standout pitcher, Brett Lanman. Lanman, a freshman from Fairview, has posted a 2.68 ERA in 57 innings this season, striking out 63 batters and allowing just a .205 opponent batting average. Tyler Valdez, a senior pitcher from Austin, will get the start for the Vaqueros. Valdez started game three against Stephen F. Austin last weekend and earned the win after a six-inning outing in which he didn’t allow a run and gave up just two hits.

Ahead of the first game, McCarty hopes the team will continue to pitch well and give his team quality starts. McCarty said he has confidence in his starters and believes they can win tough Friday games.