Last year UAB baseball traveled to Omaha to play Creighton at the home of the College World Series, and the trip did not go as hoped.

The Blazers ended up losing all three games by a combined four runs. They were all highly competitive games, but the same thing that plagued UAB baseball all of last year was more apparent than ever that weekend.

The pitching staff for UAB surrendered 14 walks during that 3-game series to Creighton. If you compare that to this past weekend’s series against the Blue Jays when the pitching staff allowed just 3 walks, it’s amazing to see how much difference a year can make.

If you just cut the walks in half a year ago in that series, UAB probably wins 2-of-3.

Granted last year’s pitching staff was very young, they constantly struggled with giving up free bases to the opposition.

And while it’s only been one weekend of baseball, you can already see a change in the pitching staff in 2017. I think last year we had too many pitchers thinking they had to strike everyone out instead of relying on our defense.

As you saw on Friday night in particular, the UAB infield defense is more than capable of making plays. The infield had 17 putouts on Friday night! Just FYI, there are only 27 outs in a nine inning game.

Maybe none more impressive than this game-ending play by Price Visintainer:

I know it’s only been three games, but it was a breath of fresh air to see the UAB pitching staff get back to throwing strikes and relying on their defense. And it was nice to know that our pitchers can rely on our defense to make plays for them.

When UAB baseball has been successful in the past it’s been because of its pitching and defense. We got away from last year for whatever reason, but I’m sure coach Shoop has been working hard to get the team back to playing that level of baseball.

If the UAB pitching staff continues to pitch this way, it’s going to be a very good year for UAB baseball. There are games where all of those balls put in play will find holes, but I’d rather the other team earn a base than us just giving them free bases 14 times in a weekend.

Again, this was just three games and I hate to overreact, but it sure was fun to see UAB baseball get back to playing UAB baseball.