UAB baseball will kick off the season at Regions Park this weekend against a Creighton team that swept the Blazers in Omaha last year.
They were all closely contested games as the Blue Jays won all three games by a combined four runs. It was a very frustrating series for UAB, and they’ll be looking for payback this weekend at home.
Creighton went on to win 38 games last year, but somehow missed out on the postseason.
The Blue Jays lost their top two hitters from a year ago in the first 13 rounds of the MLB Draft last June.
They also had a ton of seniors on last years team and will pretty much have to replace their entire starting lineup from a year ago, so expect some growing pains for this Blue Jays offense to begin the season.
Their top returning hitter is senior Bryce Only who hit .240 in just 50 at-bats last year.
Creighton is losing a lot of offense from a team that averaged 4.7 runs per game last year.
However, they return probably their best starter from last year in junior Rollie Lacy. As a sophomore he went 9-2 in 16 starts with a 3.15 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 91.1 innings pitched. Keith Rogalla also returns to the starting rotation after going 5-3 in 15 starts with a 3.21 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 73 innings last year.
They also return their third best starter from last year in junior Jeff Albrecht who had a 2.39 ERA in 64 innings last year with 48 strikeouts.
As if that wasn’t enough, they also return their closer from last year in David Gerber who led the team with a 1.50 ERA and 11 saves in 36 innings with 31 strikeouts.
This pitching staff had an amazing 3.15 ERA a season ago, and will be just as good in 2017.
As for the Blazers, they return their top two hitters from last year in Carter Pharis and Brewer Hicklen, but everything else in the lineup is a question mark.
After watching the scrimmage this past Saturday I saw the Blazers put together some really good at-bats and I expect to see a much better offense this year after averaging just 4.3 runs per game last year.
The arms looked really good on Saturday as well, and I’m excited to see transfer Carson Jones who was dominating in the scrimmage on Saturday. I’m not sure if he’s going to start or come out of the bullpen, but keep an eye on this redshirt junior.
Junior Ryan Ruggles and sophomore Garrett Whitlock are scheduled to get starts this weekend. Ruggles compiled a 4.18 ERA in 71 innings last year with 44 strikeouts, while Whitlock had a 3.00 ERA in 51 innings with 46 strikeouts.
There are a lot of good arms on this pitching staff, and they will be much better than they were a year ago when they had a combined 4.06 ERA.
Expect this to be a low scoring series, just like last year, but hopefully the Blazers find themselves on the winning side this time and get some revenge.
Friday – Regions Field – 4 p.m. CT
Rollie Lacy (9-2, 3.15, 58 Ks) vs. Garrett Whitlock (4-5, 3.00 ERA, 46 Ks)
Saturday – Regions Field – 1 p.m. CT
Keith Rogalla (5-3, 3.21, 59 Ks) vs. Ryan Ruggles (6-4, 4.18, 44 Ks)
Sunday – Regions Field – 1 p.m. CT
Jeff Albrecht (7-1, 2.39, 48 Ks) vs. TBD