From the University of Alabama at Birmingham Athletics Department:
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – The UAB baseball team ran into one of the best pitching performances in Conference USA Tournament history in a 4-1 loss to UTSA on Wednesday afternoon at Pete Taylor Park. UAB was limited to one run scored on three hits on the day.
"You have to tip your cap to their kid, who had as good of a game as we had pitched against us all year," head coach Brian Shoop said.
It was a pitcher's duel in the third game of the opening day of the 2014 Conference USA Tournament. UTSA sophomore right-handed pitcher Brock Hartson tossed 8.1 innings, gave up one run, allowed two hits, struck out a career-high 12, walked one, and hit one. Senior right-handed pitcher Chase Mallard went 8.0 innings, allowed a season-high four runs, scattered seven hits, struck out three, did not walk one, and hit three batters.
"Chase gets the loss in that one, but I think it was 105 innings without giving up a big inning," stated Shoop. "It's unbelievable what he did this year. It's just incredible. How do you fault a guy that doesn't give up a three-run inning for his entire year?"
Junior infielder Nathan Vincent was the lone bright spot offensively. Vincent was the only Blazer to record multiple hits on the day, going 2-for-4 with a double and RBI single. Redshirt sophomore outfielder Griffin Gum had a first-inning single, the only other hit on the day for the club.
"You have to understand, Nathan missed the fall and all of the winter preparatory work," added Shoop. "There was going to be a failure curve and he is still finding it. He is a dangerous hitter and an ultra-talented player. He has been unbelievable in the field. He is as good as I ever had at third base, which is a very difficult position to play."
Neither team could plate a run through the first three innings, collecting a combined two hits. UTSA (33-24) registered three runs in the top of the fourth inning. Junior infielder Horacio Correa led off with an infield single. With one out, senior infielder R.J. Perucki doubled down the left field line to put runners on second and third for junior catcher John Bormann. Bormann grounded out, but plated Correa and moved Perucki to third. Sophomore outfielder Jesse Baker lined a triple just past the outstretched arms of Vincent, scoring Perucki. Senior designated hitter Tony Rameriz then singled to push Baker across and give the Roadrunners a 3-0 lead.
UAB (35-20) had a chance to combat in the bottom of the frame. Senior designated hitter Ryan Prinzing started things off by getting plunked. Two strikeouts later, Vincent crushed his team-leading 11th double of the season, putting runners on second and third for sophomore catcher Mitch Williams. Williams grounded out to the pitcher to end the threat.
UTSA snapped Mallard's quality start streak in the top of the eighth inning. With one out, senior first baseman Mike Warren was plunked. Warren moved over to second after a groundout. With two outs, Bormann singled to plate Warren and push UTSA ahead 4-0.
The Blazers attempted a rally in the bottom of the ninth, but fell short. Prinzing reached on an error by Warren to lead off the frame. After a strikeout and groundout, Vincent roped a single into right field to plate Prinzing from second. Williams struck out to end the contest.
The UAB baseball team will take on the loser of the Southern Miss-East Carolina game on Thursday afternoon. First pitch is slated for 12:30 p.m.
Notes: Senior right-handed pitcher Chase Mallard fanned three batters and now has 94 strikeouts on the year, which ranks second in school history … Mallard's nation's-best 16 consecutive quality start streak came to an end on Wednesday afternoon … Junior infielder Nathan Vincent had his team-leading 11th double of the season against UTSA.
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