UAB Baseball sweep UT-Martin in season opener

By on February 19, 2014
The unlikeliest of NCAA appearances for the Blazers was the baseball team. Brian Shoop guided them through the conference tournament to come out on top for the first time in school history.  Houston Mcduffie/photographer

UAB Baseball Sweep the Series over the weekend, in season opener versus UT-Martin

In the squad’s first-ever game at the downtown Birmingham ballpark, Friday night The Blazers Baseball team came out, and with a career high night for Senior Pitcher Chase Mallard, they defeated UT-Matin, 5-0.

“It was a pretty good pitching matchup,” head coach Brian Shoop said. “There were several scouts in to see their guy. You know how much confidence we have in Chase and our guy was a little better, just a little.”

Mallard set a career-high with 13 strikeouts on the night, which all were swinging. Senior designated hitter Ryan Prinzing was 2-for-4 from the plate with a team-high 2 RBI. Redshirt sophomore outfielder Griffin Gum registered a career-best three hits, as well.

“You know what you are going to get with Ryan,” commented Shoop. “You are going to get a good at bat, every time he is up there. It’s not like he is going to get a hit every time, but he is going to give you a good at bat. He is going to fight you every time.”

The game stayed scoreless until the 6th inning when redshirt freshman Matthew Furuto and Junior Chase Davis made it to first and thid base, respectively. Prinzing came to the plate and after an almost double play. Davis crossed home player and gave UAB a 1-0 lead.

UAB exploded for four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Prinzing registered a two RBI-single to plate Davis and sophomore infielder Adam Smith. Classmate Ivan De Jesus scored one on a fielder’s choice; then stole second allowing Gum to score on the throw and giving UAB the game.

Continuing their series Saturday afternoon, Junior outfielder Chase Davis hit a walk-off single to seal the UAB baseball team’s 3-2 victory.

“I told our kids after the eighth inning, ‘Have you looked in the stands, do you see the crowd we have here today? We are not going to let them down,’” Coach Brian Shoop said. “We were going to find a way to win this game.”

Down 2-0 in the bottom of the ninth inning, UAB was looking for a late rally. Junior first baseman Jeff Schalk started it off with a one-out double to right center. Senior outfielder Ivan De Jesus and redshirt junior catcher Tyler Mims each were hit by pitches, loading the bases for the Blazers.

UT-Martin with a pitcher change gave Evan Peterson a walk and allowed Schalk to crosshome. Junior Sam Kelley came in and pinch hit for Adam Smith who grounded out, but allowed De Jesus to score.

In the end, Chase davis came up to bat, and landed a single into the right field, letting Tyler Mims cross home and take the win for the Blazers.

“It wasn’t really pretty,” added Shoop. “But, I am proud of the guys to grind. It felt like they expected to win. A good result, not pretty, but a good result.”

De Jesus and redshirt freshman infielder Matthew Furuto each recorded multiple hits against the Skyhawks. Davis, Kelley, and Peterson each recorded their first RBI of the season, as well.

As Sunday rolled around the UAB baseball team defeated UT-Martin, 5-3, on that afternoon to sweep the three-game set. It marked the first Blazers’ first three-game sweep since April 27-29, 2012 against Houston.

“We didn’t have a single sweep last year,” Brian Shoop stated. “It is good to get one.”

Junior Pitcher Alex Luna made the win for The Blazers after throwing five scoreless innings, striking out six players and not walking a single player.

“The experience was fantastic,” said Shoop. “It is an incredible place to play. Our kids love it. It’s a great fan experience and we got three wins.”

The Blazers sturck early tallying two runs in in the third inning. Chase Davis scoring Junior Matt Morse, and Matthew Furuto plating Adam Smith to five the Blazers their 2-0 lead.

In the 5th inning UAB continued it’s streak with Junior First baseman Jeff Schalk launching a two-run home run toward the right field and putting the Blazers 4-0.

Eller pitched two total innings, fanning four, before handing off the ball to Lowery. The Pelham, Ala. native did not allow a run, surrendered one hit, struck out two, and walked one in 1.1 innings of work to preserve the win for the Blazers.

Overall a successful season opener for the Blazers.

UAB will return to the diamond on Tuesday afternoon with a trip up to Huntsville, Ala. for a contest at Alabama A&M. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.

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About Jacob Jett

Go Blazers! I'm an English Major studying at UAB, who enjoys writing about anything and everything. Check back for my Sports Updates! And feel free to comment!
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