After a good series win to start conference play, UAB picked up a huge mid-week win at home over Alabama. Now they face one of the hottest teams in Conference USA in the La Tech Bulldogs.
La Tech comes into the this game with a 17-6 overall record, including wins over Texas A&M and Cal. Last weekend they swept Rice at home, and then this week they’ve picked up wins over Northwestern State and Louisiana-Monroe.
Overall they’ve won five in a row, and 10 of their last 11 games.
As for the Blazers, the pitching staff has been lights out over its past eight games, allowing six runs or less in each of those contests. In fact, they’ve held the opposition to six runs or less in 16 of their 19 games this year.
La Tech has scored six or more runs in every game during their current five-game win streak.
What to expect from La Tech:
This is pretty much a completely different team than last year, which is amazing considering how well they’re playing. I expected this team to fall back to the middle of the pack in Conference USA, but they’re right at the top.
The one starter returning to the lineup has been the team’s best hitter in shortstop Dalton Skelton. He’s hitting .368 on the year with 17 runs scored, 3 doubles, 4 triples, 3 home runs and 11 RBI.
Hunter Wells, Mason Mallard and Parker Bates are all hitting over .300 as well. Mallard leads the team with 4 home runs to go along with 17 runs scored and 13 RBI.
Catcher Chris Clayton actually leads the team with 17 RBI, while hitting two long balls.
The offense is hitting .286 as a team and scoring 5.30 runs per game. If UAB’s pitching staff continues to pitch they way it has, and the defense holds up, I think we can hold them to five runs or less this weekend.
The real strength of this team in 2018 has been it’s pitching staff. As a whole they have a team ERA of 1.93 with 203 strikeouts in 209.1 innings pitched. Runs could certainly be hard to come by this weekend.
David Leal, Matt Miller and Logan Robbins have all started five games, and Robbins has the highest ERA at 2.08.
Miller leads the rotation with a 0.84 ERA in 32 innings pitched with 34 strikeouts, while Leal has a 1.23 ERA in 36.2 innings pitched with 35 strikeouts.
Coming out of the bullpen, Braxton Smith has been great with a 0.47 ERA in 19.1 innings (9 appearances).
The fact that the UAB offense hasn’t really scored in bunches this year really scares me going against the best pitching staff in the conference right now.
I think this could be a very competitive, low scoring matchup. UAB will have to take advantage of everything La Tech gives them on offense. They can’t run into any outs on the base paths.
I would obviously be thrilled if UAB could win this series, and I think it would go a long way in determining how this season goes, but at the very least I will be satisfied if the Blazers pick up one big win over a La Tech team that is on the rise.