UAB Baseball’s (20-24, 10-11) difficult stretch of road games continues this weekend as they head to Charleston, W.Va. to take on Marshall (24-17, 14-7).
It seems like we say this every week, but UAB will be going up against one of the hottest teams in the conference as the Thundering Herd has won seven of its last nine games, including a win over a ranked Florida Atlantic team and a sweep of MTSU.
As of right now, the Blazers would be in the Conference USA Tournament as an eight seed, but they only hold a one game lead over FIU, and a two game lead over Charlotte – UAB will play both of those teams in the upcoming weeks.
Marshalls is currently sitting in fourth in the conference, and they’re just two games behind the top spot, which is being held by Southern Miss and Rice.
Marshall ranks seventh in Conference USA in hitting at .284, while putting up 6.2 runs per game. They rank ninth in the conference in pitching with a team ERA of 4.82.
Aaron Bossi leads the Thundering Herd on offense with a .333 average to go along with 31 runs scored, 4 home runs and 33 RBIs. Tommy Lane is right behind him with a .323 average, 33 runs, 11 home runs and 38 RBIs.
Corey Bird and DJ Gee are the tone setters for the lineup hitting .272 and .292 respectively with a combined 43 stolen bases. It’s imperative that UAB pitching keep these two guys off the base paths in front of the two big boppers in Bossi and Lane.
Chase Boster has been the team’s best weekend starter with an ERA of 4.28 with 55 strikeouts in 67.1 innings. Parker Danciu has started 11 games for Marshall with a 6.38 ERA and just 30 strikeouts in 60.2 innings.
Their closer, Burris Warner, has a 2.27 ERA and 8 saves with 25 strikeouts in 27 innings. Caleb Ross has a 2.57 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 14 innings out of the bullpen. Outside of that, their bullpen doesn’t look great, so the Blazers will need to take advantage on offense.
On that note, UAB has struggled all year to score runs and ranks last in the conference with a team batting average of .237. However, they rank third in the conference in pitching with an ERA of 3.62.
Brewer Hicklen leads the Blazers with a .300 average and 34 runs scored. Griffin Gum has had a solid year all around with a .291 average, 26 runs and 25 RBIs, while he cranked his first home run of the season against Ohio State this week.
Carter Pharis leads the team in RBIs with 30, while hitting a solid .287 with 2 home runs. Meanwhile, UAB’s home run leader Esteban Tresgallo has been absent from the lineup with a leg injury, but UAB hopes to have him back soon.
Ryan Ruggles ERA has gone up a little recently, but he still leads the starting staff at 3.30. Tanner Graham actually leads the team in innings pitched now at 60.1 with a 4.33 ERA. Adam Lamar has the lowest ERA on the team at 2.82 in 44.2 innings.
Kyle Davis has been a nice surprise late in the season having given up just 2 earned runs in 20.2 innings, and starting game three in the past two series.
Garrett Whitlock has been dynamite out of the bullpen with a 2.75 ERA in 39.1 innings with a team-high 37 strikeouts. Thomas Lowery has been solid as well with a 3.11 ERA in 37.2 innings with 34 strikeouts.
The keys to winning this series are clear, but it won’t be easy. UAB has to keep Bird and Gee off the bases, and jump on Marshall pitching early. I believe the Blazers’ pitching staff is good enough to limit Marshall’s offense to 5 or 6 runs a game, but that still means UAB is going to have to put up some crooked numbers on the scoreboard.
With winnable series against FIU and Charlotte coming up, the Blazers would be alright with just picking up one win this weekend, but I think they have a chance to win the series if they can put their road woes behind them and find some consistency on offense.
Weekend Schedule – UAB (20-24, 10-11) at Marshall (24-17, 14-7):
Friday – 5 p.m. CT – Charleston, W.Va.
Probable Starters: Chase Boster (4-2, 4.28 ERA, 55 Ks) vs. Kyle Davis (2-0, 0.87 ERA, 10 Ks)
Saturday – 1 p.m. CT – Charleston, W.Va.
Probable Starters: Parker Danciu (3-3, 6.38 ERA, 30 Ks) vs. Tanner Graham (3-5, 4.33 ERA, 29 Ks)
Sunday – 9 a.m. CT – Charleston, W.Va.
Probable Starters: JD Hammer (3-2, 5.29 ERA, 43 Ks) vs. Ryan Ruggles (5-3, 3.30 ERA, 36 Ks)