Feb. 22, 2013
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ----- With the bases-loaded for Xavier in the ninth and one out, Chase Mallard got a strikeout and a batter to ground into fielder’s choice to end the game and give the Blazers a 4-3 win over the visiting Musketeers on Friday afternoon.
Tanner Bryant (1-0) got the start on the mound for UAB and was able to keep the Musketeers in check, pitching four shutout innings giving up no hits, two walks, and striking out three in the no-decision.
UAB (3-3) jumped out to the early lead, scoring three runs in the second inning on only two hits. John Frost led off the inning with a single up the middle. After two quick outs, Tyler Hamby and Wes Kent each were hit by the Xavier pitcher to reach base, loading them up for Chase Davis. Davis came through with an infield single to score Frost. On the play, Hamby, who was running on contact with two outs, was able to beat the throw to second to keep the inning alive. The next two UAB batters walked, plating two more Blazer runs.
“The key play in the third inning, by far, was Wes Kent beating a ground ball to second. It will go unnoticed by that was a really good hustle play and if that doesn’t happen we don’t get those walks,” said Head Coach Brian Shoop. “To me that was the key play in that inning and maybe the key play in the game.”
The Blazers added what turned out to be the winning run in the fifth inning. With runners on the corners and no outs, Sam Kelley grounded in to a 4-6-3 double play which allowed Frost to score from third.
Xavier got their first hit in the top of the sixth inning when Brian Bruening reached on an infield single. After a walk and a foul out, both Xavier base runners were able to advance on a UAB wild pitch to give the Musketeers their first good scoring opportunity. Jacob German got the next two batters to fly out to end the inning.
With runners on second and third in the top of the eighth, Xavier’s Vinny Nittoli hit a ground ball to third. UAB fielded the ball cleanly but the throw home was too low to handle and tag out the runner to give the Musketeers their first run. The next batter up, Patrick Paligraf, doubled down the left field line to plate another Xavier run and put runners on second and third with no outs. After coming in and giving up the double, Chase Mallard struck out the next two batters and got the third to ground out to second to end the Xavier threat.
In the ninth, four of the first five batters for Xavier reached base to score a run and load the bases. Mallard fell behind 3-1 to the next two batters but came back to get a strikeout and a groundout to end the game and earn the save. For the final out, Stephen Schoettmer hit a slow groundball up the middle and Kent was able to field it and step of second base for the force out, barely beating the Xavier runner.
“It wasn’t even a decision to stick with Mallard in the ninth. He’s pitched a lot of big innings for us and it was his game to win or lose,” added Shoop.
German earned the win after pitching two scoreless innings in relief of Bryant.
Xavier’s Vinny Nittoli picked up the loss giving up three runs in two innings pitched.
Davis and Clark each recorded three hits while Prinzing and Frost each collected two hits on the night. Four UAB batters (Davis, Prinzing, De Jesus, and Kelley) each tallied an RBI.
The Blazers and Musketeers will return to action at Young Memorial Field on Saturday at 2 p.m. CT for game two of the series.