Blazer baseball gets win against Charlotte to clinch series
From the University of Alabama at Birmingham Athletics Department:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The UAB baseball team exploded 12 runs and matched a season-high with 16 hits en route to a 12-2 victory at Charlotte on Saturday afternoon. With the win, UAB secured its sixth Conference USA series of 2014 and extended its winning streak to five games. In addition, the Blazers have outscored their opponents 33-10 over the past five contests.
"The ball bounced our way today," head coach Brian Shoop said. "We had some fortunate things happen for us. What we were today, we were on the ground. We are a better team when we are on the ground, rather than in the air. Coach Polk always talks about how hitting is contagious, it seemed to be the case again today for our guys."
Each player in the starting lineup had at least one hit and all but one recorded at least one RBI. Redshirt junior infielder Matt Morse and redshirt sophomore outfielder Griffin Gum both matched career-highs with three hits each. Junior infielder Nathan Vincent had two RBI for the second straight game and extended his hitting streak to seven straight contests, as well.
Junior right-handed pitcher Alex Luna had a fantastic day on the mound. The right-handed pitcher threw 6.1 scoreless innings, scattered four hits, struck out five, and walked one. Luna retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced, as well. The Huntsville, Ala. native is 6-0 on the year with a 1.55 ERA.
"I thought Luna was really good again," added Shoop. "Alex always has a chance for a groundball when he pitches. You always have a chance for a double play when you're in a jam. After we scored five, he had the bases loaded and nobody out. A bases-loaded comebacker double-play, I thought that was the real big play of the game. He ended up getting out of the inning without giving up a run."
For the 30th time in 2014, UAB (29-16, 15-8) was the first team to put runs on the board. The Blazers plated five runs in the top of the third inning. With one out, Gum and junior first baseman Jeff Schalk each singled, putting runners on the corners. Junior infielder Nathan Vincent recorded an RBI single, scoring Gum. Senior outfielder Ivan De Jesus replicated the previous three Blazers' efforts and plated Schalk from second. Redshirt sophomore catcher Tyler Mims then recorded an infield single. A throwing error was made in an effort to get Mims at first, allowing Vincent to cross home. On the next play, Morse hit a groundball to Charlotte junior infielder Mikal Hill. Hill misplayed the ball and two runs came home.
After cruising through the first two innings, Luna would find a challenge in the bottom of the third. After two singles and a fielder's choice, the bases were loaded for Charlotte (14-28-1, 6-16). Charlotte's Hill would hit a groundball back to Luna. Luna started a double play, getting the lead runner at home and Hill out at first. The Huntsville, Ala. native would then walk his first batter in 10.0 innings to reload the bases. Luna would record a swinging strikeout for the final out and got out unscathed.
UAB would add another run in the top of the fourth. Senior designated hitter Ryan Prinzing led off the frame with a single. Gum moved Prinzing over with a sacrifice bunt. Schalk singled to put runners on the corners for Vincent. Vincent would hit a groundball to third. Charlotte looked to turn a double play, but could not get Vincent, allowing Prinzing to score.
The Blazers kept at it in the fifth inning. Mims led off the frame with his first home run of his collegiate career. The Hoover, Ala. native sent a solo shot over the left field wall for the 10th UAB home run of the year. Morse then singled and eventually made his way to third following a UAB groundout and Charlotte wild pitch. Prinzing then hit an infield single, scoring Morse from third, and extending the Green and Gold's lead to 8-0.
Four more runs would come across in the sixth inning for UAB. With one out, De Jesus and Mims drew consecutive walks and Morse singled to load the bases for Smith. Smith recorded an RBI single and then junior outfielder Chase Davis replicated Smith's efforts to plate one more. A wild pitch would allow Morse to score and Gum then grounded out, but scored another run to put UAB ahead 12-0.
Senior right-handed pitcher Cameron Rose filled in for Luna in the seventh. Rose allowed three singles in the frame, which resulted in Charlotte's first two runs of the day.
The three-game series will come to a conclusion on Sunday afternoon in Charlotte. First pitch is scheduled for 12 p.m. CT.