After a huge series win over Southern Miss last weekend, the UAB Baseball team (14-22, 6-9) will look to carry that momentum into this weekend as they host Middle Tennessee State (16-22, 4-11).
The Blue Raiders currently sit last in the Conference USA baseball standings with just four wins, but the Blazers can’t take anyone lightly. Like UAB, Middle Tennessee has also already faced the top three teams in the conference this year in Rice, Southern Miss and Florida Atlantic, which explains why their conference record is what it is.
They’ve had some big wins out of conference, including wins over Indiana, South Alabama, Kennesaw State and Vanderbilt.
MTSU ranks ninth in the conference with a batting average of .262, while putting up 4.3 runs per game. They are led on offense by Riley Delgado who is hitting .411 with 26 runs scored. Next closest to him in average is Brad Jarreau at .293, while he is also tied for the team lead in home runs with three and RBIs with 24. Austin Dennis is also hitting .293 with 24 RBIs on the season.
On the pitching side, MTSU ranks 10th in the conference with a staff ERA of 4.98 to go along with 264 strikeouts in 318 innings pitched.
Nate Hoffmann has been the team’s Friday night starter with an ERA of 5.66 and 35 strikeouts in 49.1 innings. Tyler Troutt comes in behind him with a 5.52 ERA in 45.2 innings. Jake Wyrick has been their best starter this season with a 3.49 ERA in 38.2 innings with 37 strikeouts.
Garrett Ring has been the best arm out of the bullpen with a 1.82 ERA in 29.2 innings with 31 strikeouts. AJ Spencer and Carson Lester also have ERAs under four coming out of the bullpen with over 20 innings of work each.
Gameplan for Beating MTSU:
So the gameplan for beating MTSU seems fairly simply. Jump on their starters early and get a big lead on offense before they get into their bullpen. If the Blue Raiders get any kind of lead early they’ll bring in Ring for multiple innings to shut it down, so it’s important that the Blazers strike early.
For the pitching staff, you have to keep Delgado off the bases. Navigating through the first three hitters of the MTSU lineup will be challenging, but if you can keep Delgado off the base paths you’re going to have a lot of success against the Blue Raiders. With his .494 on-base-percentage that will be a tall task, but if the UAB pitching staff can keep him off the bases the Blazers will have a good weekend.
For UAB, they still rank last in the conference with a batting average of .232, scoring 4.3 runs per game. Griffin Gum is back to leading the team with a .290 average. Brewer Hicklen is right behind him at .287, while leading the team in runs with 28. Carter Pharis is also hitting .287 and leading the team in RBIs with 26. Esteban Tresgallo has started to heat up lately and now leads the team with 4 home runs.
Those four guys need to have a big weekend against that MTSU pitching staff if UAB is going to come out with the series victory.
The UAB pitching staff is now tied for the third best ERA in the conference at 3.76. Ryan Ruggles has been the team’s best starter with an ERA of 2.90 in 49.2 innings with 27 strikeouts. Tanner Graham had a good start against Southern Miss last weekend to bring his ERA down to 4.62 in 48.2 innings. Adam Lamar has the best ERA on the team at 2.25 in 40 innings as he will most likely get the ball on Sunday.
Out of the bullpen Schoop has relied heavily on Garrett Whitlock who has a 3.09 ERA in 32 innings with a team-high 35 strikeouts. Thomas Lowery (3.38), Dylan Munger (3.42), Kyle Davis (0.77) and Austin Thomas (4.50) are also trusted arms out of the bullpen for UAB.
Again, you can’t judge MTSU by their conference record as seven of their losses have come against top 25 caliber teams, and they also were swept on the road by a tough WKU team that came into Birmingham and took 2-of-3 against UAB; however, this is a series that the Blazers really need to win.
They’ve weathered the storm through the toughest part of the scheduled and have managed to keep themselves ranked in the top eight in the conference standings, but now they have to feast on some of these teams ranked towards the bottom.
Weekend Schedule – UAB (14-22, 6-9) vs. MTSU (16-22, 4-11):
Friday – 6:30 p.m. CT – Young Memorial Field
Probable Starters: Nate Hoffmann (1-3, 5.66 ERA, 35 Ks) vs. Tanner Graham (1-4, 4.62 ERA, 21 Ks)
Saturday – 2 p.m. CT – Young Memorial Field
Probable Starters: Tyler Troutt (1-7, 5.52 ERA, 24 Ks) vs. Ryan Ruggles (4-2, 2.90 ERA, 27 Ks)
Sunday – 1 p.m. CT – Young Memorial Field
Probable Starters: Jake Wyrick (3-3, 3.49 ERA, 37 Ks) vs. Adam Lamar (3-3, 2.25 ERA, 17 Ks)