Feb. 28, 2010
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The UAB baseball team won its third straight over Ball State with a 6-5 victory Sunday at Young Memorial Field to claim a series victory with wins in three of the weekend's four games.
Shortstop Jonathan Merritt and first baseman Luke Stewart collected two hits each for UAB, while designated hitter John Frost provided what proved to be the game-winning hit in the eighth inning.
UAB (3-2) missed out on a bases-loaded opportunity in the seventh, but Frost capitalized an inning later when Ball State pitchers walked the bases loaded for the second time. With the game tied 4-4 and the Cardinals' infield drawn in, the freshman singled up the middle to plate two runs and give the Blazers' their first lead of the game.
The UAB bullpen, which combined for five strong innings in relief of starter Ryan Woolley, finished off Ball State (2-5) in the ninth.
Trey Vice surrendered a last-inning solo home run to Ball State's Kory Benbow, but that was the only hit the junior allowed in his two innings of work. Vice struck out three of the seven batters he faced and earned the win, while Blake Huddleston came out of the Blazer bullpen to record three straight outs and pick up the save. Mikael Saway also pitched two innings of relief earlier for UAB and allowed just one run on one hit.
"That's what you hope to get from your middle relief," UAB head coach Brian Shoop said. "Those were guys who hadn't thrown in our first few games, and they were very effective today. I'm proud of Trey and Mikael, and I'm happy for them."
UAB trailed 4-1 through five innings against Ball State starter Kolbrin Vitek before getting to the Cardinals' bullpen in the sixth. Aided by a Ball State error, the Blazers scored on an RBI single from right fielder Danny Volk, a ground ball from center fielder Jamal Austin and a bases-loaded walk by second baseman Nick Crawford to tie the score.
Prior to that inning, UAB had managed five hits but just one run against Vitek as the Cardinals built their early lead.
"We were somewhat fortunate because Vitek overmatched us, but they took him out on a pitch count," Shoop said. "Their bullpen gave us some opportunities, and we were able to score just enough to win."
UAB batters drew nine walks in the game with eight of those coming over the final four innings. Ball State reliever Cody Elliott suffered the loss after having the go-ahead run in the eighth charged to him.
Vitek also led Ball State offensively with two hits, including a home run, and two runs scored, while right fielder Ryan Chenoweth and first baseman Ian Nielsen each tallied a pair of hits for the Cardinals.
UAB continues its nine-game home stand with a midweek game Tuesday at 3 p.m. against Kennesaw State. The Blazers then welcome Eastern Illinois to Young Memorial Field next weekend for a three-game series.