Anytime you lose a series in baseball it’s disappointing, but the Blazers showed some promise in their opening series against a very good Arkansas State squad. They’ll look to build on some of that promise this week, while they try fix some of the mistakes they made in that series and in their midweek loss to Troy.
UAB suffered another difficult loss to Troy on Wednesday 2-1 despite out-hitting the Trojans six to three. Just like over the weekend series against Arkansas State, the Blazers are putting runners on base, but failing to bring them in with timely hitting.
In the loss to Troy Brewer Hicklen was a perfect 2-2 with a home run and 2 walks, while senior Griffin Gum picked up a couple of hits as well.
The only two runs the Trojans scored were uneared runs, which makes the loss even more hard to swallow for Coach Shoop. The pitching staff continues to improve, striking out 10 batters and only giving up 3 hits and 2 walks (all from starter Garrett Whitlock). After the second inning Adam Lamar, Tanner Graham, Dylan Munger and Austin Thomas combined to throw a perfect game.
The Blazers continued to struggle with timely hitting against Troy as they stranded a runner at third with less than two outs on three different occasions. That is something they are going to have to fix as they take on Ohio this weekend.
The Ohio Bobcats faced UNC Asheville in their opening series and won the first two easily scoring 12 runs and 14 runs respectively before losing the series finale 7-5.
Junior Ty Black picked up 9 hits in 15 at-bats (.600 average) in those three games, while freshman Rudy Rott went 5-for-7 at the plate, hit a home run and drove in six over the weekend. Senior John Adryan hit .462 (6/13) and scored 8 runs in the opening weekend.
The starting pitching wasn’t great against UNC Asheville as they combined to give up 12 earned runs in 9.1 innings pitched. Friday night starter, redshirt sophomore Gerry Salisbury, gave up 2 earned runs on just 1 hit and 5 walks over 3.2 innings with 3 strikeouts.
Senior Jake Miller had a good weekend out of the bullpen making two appearances and only allowing 2 earned runs on 4 hits and 3 walks in 5 innings, while striking out eight batters.
The Bobcats are another very good baseball team, which won 36 games a year ago and the MAC Championship. Junior Mitch Longo returns from last year’s team after hitting .357 with 7 home runs, 49 RBIs and 53 runs scored.
Ohio did lose their best pitcher from a year ago in Logan Cozart who was drafted in the 21st round of the MLB Draft by the Rockies after posting a 1.52 ERA over 71 innings with 80 strikeouts.
The Blazers pitching staff and defense will need to be much better this weekend as they go against a potent Ohio offense. I believe the Blazers will be able to put some runs on the board, but they’ll need to limit the damage against that lineup.
This will be another difficult test for this young team out of the gate as they face a team that made a trip to the NCAA Regionals a year ago, but if they can find way to limit their offense UAB can come away with a big series win.
Senior Griffin Gum enters the weekend hitting a solid .500 (7-14) with a team-leading 4 RBIs, and after a good game Tuesday redshirt freshman Brewer Hicklen is hitting .462 (6-13) with a team-high 4 runs scored.
The pitching staff has posted an ERA of 3.34 through the first four games, and has struck out 30 batters in 35 innings. However, the defense – along with some ill-timed walks – has let them down as they’ve given up 8 unearned runs.
Weekend Schedule UAB (2-3) vs. Ohio (2-2):
Friday – UAB: 15 Ohio: 6
Carter Pharis was 3-4 with 5 RBIs.
Saturday – 2 p.m. CT – Regions Field
Probable Starters: Jake Miller (1-0, 3.60 ERA, 8 Ks) vs. Austin Thomas (0-1, 1.35 ERA, 4 Ks)
Sunday – 12 p.m. CT – Regions Field
Probable Starters: Jake Rudnicki (0-0, 12.46 ERA, 7 Ks) vs. Tanner Graham (0-1, 8.35 ERA, 3 Ks)