The Blazers are at a crucial point in the baseball season as they’ve lost six of their last seven games and are falling in the conference standings.
The pitching has not been the same since conference play has started, and while the offense has been better, it still hasn’t been enough.
If UAB is going to turn this season back around it starts this weekend against Marshall.
The Thundering Herd come into town this weekend with an identical 4-5 conference record as UAB. They won their first Conference USA series of the season against UTSA, and then have dropped back-to-back series to the likes of Southern Miss and Middle Tennessee.
However, they are coming off a quality mid-week win against Virginia Tech, while UAB is coming off a very bad mid-week loss to Jacksonville State.
UAB still ranks last in the conference in batting average at .245, but the team right above them is the Thundering Herd at .253.
The Blazers have fallen to second in the conference with an ERA of 3.92, but Marshall is near the bottom at 5.58.
So just looking at those numbers you would think UAB has a clear advantage in this series.
Billy Sager leads Marshall with a .340 batting average in just 47 at-bats. Shane Hanon and Sam Finfer also boast averages over .300.
Finfer leads the team with 8 home runs and 20 runs scored. Tyler Ratliff has 19 runs scored, 6 home runs and a team-high 29 RBI.
The Marshall offense is kind of an all-or-nothing offense. They’re sixth in the league in home runs, but first in the league in strikeouts. That should play right into the UAB pitching staff’s hands.
Their defense is also not very good as they’re third in the conference with 39 errors compared to 26 for UAB.
For a pitching staff that is just seventh in the conference in strikeouts and 10th in batting average against, the UAB offense should be able to put the ball in play and put some pressure on that defense and pitching staff.
Marshall’s Friday night starter, Joshua Shapiro, has a 4.04 ERA in 35.2 innings with 30 strikeouts. Wade Martin should get the ball on Saturday with a 2.50 ERA in 39.2 innings with 44 strikeouts.
And then on Sunday Patrick Murphy will start with a 6.25 ERA in 31.2 innings with just 19 strikeouts.
Ratliff has also been very good for Marshall as a relief pitcher. He has a 1.29 ERA in 7 innings with 11 strikeouts and 3 saves.
Just about everyone else that Marshall uses out of the bullpen has an ERA over four, so it’s important for the UAB hitters to work the count against Marshall’s starters and get them out of the game early.
The offense has been pretty good lately scoring five or more runs in four of their last six games.
It’s the pitching staff that is a huge question mark for UAB right now. Garrett Whitlock only pitched one inning last Sunday before leaving the game, so his status for this weekend is up in the air.
The only thing we know for sure is that Thomas Lowery and Carson Jones will pitch at some point this weekend.
Jones had a very uncharacteristic outing against Jacksonville State on Tuesday giving up 6 earned runs in 0.1 innings. You won’t see that happen against him very often.
Isaiah Gonzales-Montoya has pitched very well lately, including 2.2 innings on Tuesday were he allowed 1 unearned run on just 1 hit. I think he probably gets a start this weekend.
The goal is simple, the Blazers must win at least two games this weekend – and they really need three. However, the execution is not quite as simple.
UAB has to get back to pitching and defense. They had 9 walks and 2 errors in their two losses to FIU last weekend. That’s not Blazers’ baseball.
If they can keep the ball in the park this weekend and not make any errors, a sweep is well within reach.
As for the offense, just keeping doing what you’ve been doing. If we score five runs a game this weekend I think we win all three.
The time is now for UAB baseball – they have to turn this season around right here.
Please come out and support UAB baseball this weekend as they go for the much needed sweep over Marshall.
Weekend Schedule (Pitcher Probable)
Friday – Young Memorial Field – 6:30 p.m. CT
Thomas Lowery (3-1, 3.22, 24) vs. Joshua Shapiro (1-2, 4.04, 30)
Saturday – Young Memorial Field – 2 p.m. CT
Isaiah Gonzales-Montoya (1-1, 2.01 ERA, 15 Ks) vs. Wade Martin (2-1, 2.50, 44)
Sunday – Young Memorial Field – 12:30 p.m. CT
TBD vs. Patrick Murphy (1-1, 6.25, 19)