Feb. 24, 2012
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ---- The UAB baseball team captured its home opener at Young Memorial Field in style on Friday night. The Blazers scored four times in the bottom of the ninth, capped off by a Tanner Bryant RBI single to earn the come-from-behind victory against Ball State, 4-3.
"It wouldn't be how you would draw it up, but if you could draw it up like that you would, because that kind of win can do a lot for a team," head coach Brian Shoop said. "That win is something you can build on, because it gives you the sense that you are always in the game."
UAB (3-2) had been held in check through eight frames, as Ball State (1-2) starter Cal Bowling was spectacular heading into the bottom of the ninth. Through the first eight innings the Blazers offense had only mustered up three singles against the right-hander.
However, the tides changed ever so quickly in the ninth, as the scoring pendulum swung in favor of the home squad.
Trailing 3-0, Bowling returned to mound, eyeing a complete game shutout. Tyler Mims and Michael Busby had different plans for the Blazers' offense, roping back-to-back singles to start the inning, ending the day for Bowling. The right-hander went eight-plus innings, allowing five hits, two runs (both earned) one walk and eight strikeouts.
Ball State called upon its closer, Devin Wilburn (1-1). The southpaw could not slow down the momentum started by Mims and Busby which had knocked Bowling from the ball game.
Patrick Palmerio (2-for-4, one RBI) greeted Wilburn by lacing a double to left field, allowing Mims to race home, for the Blazers third-straight hit.
"T-Bone (Tyler Mims) gets the base hit to get us going, Michael and Patrick follow him. As Coach (Ron) Polk says `hitting in contagious'. We had some great at bats in the ninth and hopefully we do that from the first inning tomorrow. It was a great win for our kids," Shoop said.
With runners on second and third, down 3-1, freshman Jeff Schalk was drilled by a pitch to load the bases. Still with no outs in the stanza, up stepped senior Keith DePew. The second baseman lined a single to right, but was hit so hard that only one base runner to score, cutting the deficit to a single run.
Next up stepped pinch hitter Jacob German. The junior did not have to lift the bat of his shoulder, as he drew a four-pitch walk to tie the game.
The bases were still loaded, with no outs for junior Tanner Bryant, who had entered earlier in the game as a pinch hitter. Bryant, who had flied out in his previous at bat, roped a single down the left-field line to plate Schalk as the Blazers earned the victory in dramatic fashion.
"I just tried to slow everything down," Bryant said. "With no outs, bases loaded, infield in, it looks like an intense situation but the pressure is on the defense and the pitcher. We do a round in batting practice every day, infield in, get him in and I was able to slow the game down."
Lost in the thrilling finish was the pitching of UAB starter Dillon Napoleon. The righty, who did not figure in the decision, worked 7.2 innings, giving up five hits, one run (earned) with no walks and three strikeouts. Through his first two starts, Napoleon has allowed just two runs over 14.2 total innings.
Earning the win for UAB was lefty freshman Dylan Munger (1-1), the first victory of his collegiate career.
BSU scored a run in the first off an RBI single from T.J. Weir, but was also held scoreless until the ninth inning. The Cardinals scored twice off Munger to take what appeared to be a secure 3-0 lead into the last of the ninth. But, the Blazers roped five of their eight hits in the frame as BSU was unable to record an out in the final stanza.
The Blazers and Cardinals return to Young Memorial Field on Saturday, with first pitch slated for 2 p.m. CT.