UAB baseball got out to a great start this year with a sweep over Big East foe Creighton, but they were humbled a bit on Wednesday night against Alabama State.
A loss to the Hornets is very respectable after they won 38 games and the SWAC Conference Tournament last year and going to the NCAA Tournament. They came into the game 0-3, but two of those losses where to top 25 teams, and the other was a 1-run loss.
Regardless, the Blazers have to pick themselves back up and get ready to continue their dominance at Regions Field this weekend.
Valpo started off the season against a familiar foe in Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers took 2-out-of-3 games, but WKU’s two wins were both by one run.
The Crusaders of Valpo won a solid 30 games last year and made a run in the Horizon League Tournament before losing to one-seeded Wright State.
Senior Nate Palace is off to a great start hitting .778 with 1 home run, 4 RBIs and 3 runs. Last year he hit .275 with 6 home runs, 32 runs and 40 RBIs. He’ll lead an offense that averaged 6.5 runs per game last year.
Friday night starter Mario Losi walked six batters in 5.1 innings against Western Kentucky last week with just 1 strikeout, but he only gave up 3 earned runs. He had a 4.96 ERA in 61.2 innings last year with 19 walks and 46 strikeouts.
Wes Gordon had a good start for Valpo on Saturday striking out eight over 6.1 innings and giving just 2 runs on a couple of solo homers. He had a 2.86 ERA in 63 innings at a junior college last year.
Despite giving up 8 hits, Sunday starter Grant Inman gave up just 2 runs in 5 innings with 2 walks and a strikeout. Last year he had a 4.97 ERA in 29 innings with 16 walks and 21 strikeouts.
In order for UAB to win this series the pitching will need be as good as it was against Creighton. The Crusaders have the ability to score some runs on offense, but I think we can get to their pitching staff if we’re patient at the plate.
The UAB offense has put together some good at-bats this year, even against Alabama State on Wednesday night when they had 9 hits. The lineup seems to be much deeper this year as the bottom of the lineup is doing a good job of getting on base as well.
I’m really looking forward to the encore performances of Garrett Whitlock, Ryan Ruggles and Tanner Graham this weekend. Those three combined to throw 19 innings without giving up an earned run last weekend. They also gave up just 12 hits, 1 walk and 18 strikeouts.
I’m really hoping for another sweep, but at the very least UAB has to pick up two wins against Valpo this weekend.
Friday – Regions Field – 4 p.m. CT
Mario Losi (0-0, 5.06, 1 Ks) vs. Garrett Whitlock (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 6 Ks)
Saturday – Regions Field – 1 p.m. CT
Wes Gordon (0-0, 2.84, 8 Ks) vs. Ryan Ruggles (1-0, 0.00, 3 Ks)
Sunday – Regions Field – 12 p.m. CT
Grant Inman (1-0, 3.60, 1 Ks) vs. Tanner Graham (1-0, 0.00, 9 Ks)