Blazer Baseball is back

By on February 19, 2013
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The UAB Blazers baseball team opened the 2013 season by winning the opening series against Southern Illinois. UAB took two of the three games against the Salukis from the Missouri Valley Conference.

Young Memorial Field saw the first action of the season as the Blazers won a series against Southern Illinois, winning the second two after dropping the first game of the season. Kyle Thompson/staff Photographer

Young Memorial Field saw the first action of the season as the Blazers won a series against Southern Illinois, winning the second two after dropping the first
game of the season. Kyle Thompson/staff Photographer

The Blazers lost the opening game Friday, 5-4. UAB jumped to a 4-0 lead after three innings, but gave up eight base runners and five runs after that.

Saturday’s game showcased a 1-0 win for the Blazers. James Naile and Dylan Munger propelled the Blazers in a four hit pitching gem, giving the defending Conference-USA champions their first win of the season. Naile pitched six innings giving up only three hits and striking out two batters. Munger finished the game pitching three innings, allowing only one hit.

“When Naile’s going good he’s got a little bit of a Dillon Napoleon (former UAB pitcher) in him because he has that sink going. But he was great today and that was a great first outing. Dylan wasn’t completely sharp, but his stuff’s so good anyway. It was a tough day to hit and it was a good pitching win for this club,” UAB manager Brian Shoop said.

Naile retired eight of the first nine Saluki batters while the lone base runner to get on base was then part of an inning ending double play hit to second baseman, Wes Kent.

The Blazers won the third and final game Sunday, 3-1, to claim the series and a 2-1 start to the season. Shortstop, Tanner Bryant, knocked in the game winning run in Saturday’s game and turned around Sunday to pitch the Blazers to victory. “I’ve been doing it all my life going from short to the mound and back to short sometimes. Coached asked me how my arm felt. It felt great and I told him I was ready to go. He said, ‘Give us everything you got.’ I came out today (Sunday) and got mentally prepared. I got a lot of visualization in last night about winning our first series at home,” Bryant said.

Bryant, the Newnan, Georgia product, struck out a career high eight batters Sunday. Bryant pitched 5 and two-thirds innings giving up five hits, one earned run, and walking none. “We thought he matched up good. After Naile was so good yesterday (Saturday) with the sinking fastball with velocity, that’s what Tanner is. He’s a sinking fastball but he’s got some arm strength and Tanner’s got a very good changeup. We thought it would match up pretty good and it did,” Shoop said.

UAB will be back in action Tuesday as the Blazers travel to Jacksonville State (3 PM) and then will turn around Wednesday (3 PM) to face Jacksonville State at Young Memorial Field. The Blazers conclude the week with a Friday-Sunday series at home versus Xavier. Friday’s first pitch is slated for 3 PM, Saturday at 1 PM, and Sunday’s game at 12 PM.

Dan Harralson
Staff Writer
danh82@uab.edu

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