Feb. 17, 2012
CLEMSON, S.C. ---- Dillon Napoleon and Ryan Nance combined to hold the 16th-ranked Clemson Tigers to just one run as the Blazers earned a 2-1 victory at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in front of a near sell out of 5,994 fans on Friday night to start the college baseball season.
The two teams will square off again Saturday as part of a doubleheader, beginning at 11 a.m. ET. Sunday's game was moved up due to possibility of inclement weather.
UAB (1-0) received a standout performance from Napoleon, who worked the first seven innings, surrendering just one earned run on four hits. The senior right-hander's final line included two walks and one strike out. He utilized his defense, most notably the outfielders, all night as 15 of 19 batters retired came on fly outs.
Nance recorded the final six outs to pick up the save and secure the victory for the Blazers.
"I thought Napoleon was typical Napoleon," head coach Brian Shoop said. "Kevin Brady (Clemson's starter) is also a special arm, but Napoleon matches up with anyone. Ryan Nance's stuff was really good, too."
In was the bottom of the order that gave Clemson arms the most difficulty. UAB's seven and eight hole hitters - Keith DePew and Jacob German - went a perfect 5-for-5 and reached base in seven out of eight plate appearances. The lone time neither successfully made it to first base was when German put down a sac bunt in the eighth.
DePew scored both Blazer runs, had two hits and walked twice. German rocketed two doubles as part of career-high tying three-hit day at the dish.
The ninth spot in the lineup proved to be the run producing position for UAB as shortstop Matt Morse and pinch hitter Tyler Mims each recorded sacrifice flies, the first RBI of each of their UAB careers, to account for the team's runs.
Clemson (0-1) cracked the scoreboard first in the bottom half of the second when Jon McGibbon belted a RBI double off the left field wall, which would be the only time the Tigers would cross home against the Napoleon-Nance combo.
UAB appeared to put CU starter Kevin Brady in a bind in the top of the third when the Blazers loaded the bases. DePew started the rally by singling and German followed by lining a double down right over the third base bag. But, Brady buckled down and recorded back-to-back punch outs, prior to plunking Arrowood. With the sacks packed, John Frost was retired on a fly out to end the threat.
Escaping the bases loaded jam seemed to spark the Tigers offense as they also loaded the bases in the bottom half of the third with just one out. Napoleon did as he did all night, worked out of jam and was able to get a fielder's choice and a pop up to keep the Tigers from crossing home.
After each team went down in order in the fourth, UAB touched home for the first time in 2012 in the fifth. DePew drew a four-pitch walk and moved around to third on a hit-and-run executed by German. Up stepped Morse, who in his first career start in Green and Gold, brought home the game tying run on a sac fly to right. Clemson escaped without any further damage, inducing an inning-ending double play.
In the seventh, Napoleon worked around a leadoff single to strikeout Tyler Slaton, the final batter he would face, ending the frame with plenty of emotion from the UAB bench.
In the bottom of the frame, DePew and German set the table again, roping a single and double with one down. Shoop went to his bench and called on redshirt freshman Tyler Mims. The Hoover, Ala., native took little time waiting in his first collegiate at bat, smacking the first pitch he saw to left field for a sac fly, with what proved to be the winning run off Clemson's Matt Campbell (0-1).
The Tigers had a glimmer of hope in the eighth as Nance plunked two guys in the inning, but escaped with a ground out to first to end and hopes for Clemson. He would send the Tigers down in the order in the bottom of the ninth to earn the save.
"It's great to win. I told the guys before the game, if we win today enjoy the food, because food tastes better when you win. But then get a good night's sleep and get back to work," Shoop said.