Jacksonville best Blazers, twice

By on February 27, 2013

Jacksonville State defeated the UAB baseball team, 7-0, on Tuesday afternoon at Rudy Abbott Field. The Gamecocks scored three runs in back-to-back innings to break the game open.

The Blazers fall to 2-2 on the season, while the Gamecocks improve to 1-3 overall.

The Blazers lost to in state foe Jacksonville twice this past week falling on the road 7-0 and then getting topped at home 7-4.  They rebounded by winning a series against Xavier 2-1 at home.  Kyle Thompson/Staff Photographer

The Blazers lost to in state foe Jacksonville twice this past week falling on the road 7-0 and then getting topped at home 7-4. They rebounded by winning a series against Xavier 2-1 at home. Kyle Thompson/Staff Photographer

Jacksonville State’s Casey Antley and Graham Officer combined for a three-hit shutout of the Blazers. Antley pitched six innings allowing two hits while striking out three. Officer pitched the final three innings and allowed only one hit to earn the save.

Alex Luna picked up the loss for the Blazers. Luna, making his first start of the season, gave up all seven JSU runs, six earned, on eight hits in 3.1 innings.

“Casey Antley pitched well today for JSU and we were playing from behind right from the start,” said UAB head coach Brian Shoop.

UAB fell behind early after Jacksonville State’s Cal Lambert knocked in Michael Bishop, who led-off the bottom of the first inning with a triple, to score the games first fun. After the triple, it appeared as that Luna was going to get out of the inning, recording back-to-back strikeouts before allowing the hit to Lambert.

Luna was in trouble again in the second but got out of the inning unscathed. With runners on second and third with two outs, Lune intentionally walked the Gamecock batter. He was then able to get the next batter to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.

Jacksonville State extended their lead in the third inning. The Gamecocks began the inning with a single, double, and then a triple to add on two runs. They added on another run during the next at-bat when the runner on third scored on a balk.

The Blazers were retired in order in two of the first three innings with their only base runner reaching on an error. UAB got their first hit in the fourth inning on a single by Ivan De Jesus to give the Blazers runners on first and second with no outs. But JSU was able to set down the next three UAB batters to end the Blazer threat.

The Gamecocks broke the game open in the fourth inning. With two on and no outs, Eddie Mora-Leora hit a three-run homerun to left field to put JSU up 7-0.

UAB put a runner on third base in the fifth and sixth innings but weren’t able to come up with the timely hit to get the score.

The Blazers continued to pitch well in relief as the trio of Cory Eller, Sam Kelley and Chase Mallard combined to allow just two hits, three walks and eight strikeouts over the final 4.2 innings.

On the season, the UAB bullpen has surrendered just one run in 16.2 innings or relief.

“We’ll come out tomorrow and go through our routine and make sure we’re ready to play. We won’t do anything different just because we lost today,” Shoop said.

The Blazers returned to action and to Birmingham on Wednesday to take on the Gamecocks once again.

The UAB baseball team rallied to score four runs in the bottom of the ninth, but the late offensive burst was not enough as the Blazers fell to Jacksonville State, 7-4, on Wednesday afternoon at Young Memorial Field.

UAB (2-3) trailed 7-0 entering the last of the ninth, as Jacksonville State (2-3) gained its lead by scoring all seven runs over the first three frames.

The Blazers loaded the bases with one out in the ninth and scored their first run of the night on a Griffin Gum sacrifice fly to avoid the shutout. Following Ryan Prinzing being a hit by a pitch to reload the bases, Ivan De Jesus clubbed a bases clearing double to pull UAB within three runs.

With the tying run on deck, JSU called on Travis Stout to get the final out of the game. The right-hander faced John Frost who rocketed a pitch to left field, but was hauled in on the warning track by leftfielder Ty Pierce to close out the contest.

Taylor Shields (1-1) earned the victory for the Gamecocks, pitching five shutout innings, allowing three hits with two walks and two strikeouts.

UAB starter Ruben Tresgallo (0-1) suffered the loss, going 1.1 innings, surrendering three earned runs off two hits and three walks.

JSU jumped out early, scoring in the top of the first on a Griff Gordan RBI triple.  The Gamecocks tacked on two in the second on a Stephen Bartlett two-run homer before adding four unearned runs in the third. 

The Gamecocks’ bats were quieted the rest of the way, as the last four UAB pitchers kept JSU off the scoreboard.

Jeff Schalk and Harry Clark each recorded a pair of hits, while De Jesus knocked in three and extended his hitting streak to five games on the season.

The Blazers closed out the week with a series against Xavier. With the bases-loaded for Xavier in the ninth and one out, Chase Mallard got a strikeout and a batter to ground into fielder’s choice to end the game and give the Blazers a 4-3 win over the visiting Musketeers on Friday afternoon.

Tanner Bryant (1-0) got the start on the mound for UAB and was able to keep the Musketeers in check, pitching four shutout innings giving up no hits, two walks, and striking out three in the no-decision.

UAB jumped out to the early lead, scoring three runs in the second inning on only two hits. “The key play in the third inning, by far, was Wes Kent beating a ground ball to second. It will go unnoticed by that was a really good hustle play and if that doesn’t happen we don’t get those walks,” said Head Coach Brian Shoop. “To me that was the key play in that inning and maybe the key play in the game.”

The Blazers added what turned out to be the winning run in the fifth inning. With runners on the corners and no outs, Sam Kelley grounded in to a 4-6-3 double play which allowed Frost to score from third.

Xavier got their first hit in the top of the sixth inning when Brian Bruening reached on an infield single.

In the ninth, four of the first five batters for Xavier reached base to score a run and load the bases. Mallard fell behind 3-1 to the next two batters but came back to get a strikeout and a groundout to end the game and earn the save.

“It wasn’t even a decision to stick with Mallard in the ninth. He’s pitched a lot of big innings for us and it was his game to win or lose,” added Shoop.

German earned the win after pitching two scoreless innings in relief of Bryant.

Xavier’s Vinny Nittoli picked up the loss giving up three runs in two innings pitched.

Davis and Clark each recorded three hits while Prinzing and Frost each collected two hits on the night. Four UAB batters (Davis, Prinzing, De Jesus, and Kelley) each tallied an RBI. Xavier scored early and went on to hand UAB a 12-4 loss in baseball action Sunday afternoon at Young Memorial Field.

UAB (4-4) fell behind 7-0 after four inning of play before getting on the board with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth. But the Blazers were unable to keep the Musketeers off the board as Xavier added runs in each of the final three innings to spoil UAB’s chances of a comeback.

Xavier starting pitcher Tyler Koors allowed only two UAB batters to reach base in the first five frames, one single and one hit by pitch. 

The Blazers had their first scoring opportunity in the sixth inning when back-to-back walks and a single by Ivan De Jesus loaded the bases for John Frost with one out. Frost came through with a RBI single through the right side. Consecutive groundouts allowed one more Blazer run to cross home plate before ending the inning.

Xavier responded with two runs in the top of the seventh, one in the eigth, and two more in the ninth to keep the game out of reach.

In the ninth, Wes Kent singled in Wilkinson, who had led off the inning with a double down the leftfield line, to plate a fourth run for the Blazers.

Tyler Koors (1-1) earned the win for Xavier allowing two runs on three hits and two walks over six innings pitched.

UAB starter Dylan Munger (0-1) picked up the loss, lasting 3.1 innings, giving up six runs (five earned) on six hits and three walks.

The Blazers’ bullpen, which had been solid all season, allowed eight runs (four earned) in 5.2 innings in relief of Munger.

Wilkinson, who came in as a pinch runner in the seventh inning, finished one-for-one with a double and two runs scored.

The Blazers are off until Friday, when they travel to Athens, Ga. to take on the Georgia Bulldogs in a three-game series. First pitch of game one is scheduled for 5 p.m. CT.

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