March 6, 2010
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Center fielder Jamal Austin and third baseman John Frost combined for seven hits in nine at-bats Saturday, but the UAB baseball team had its five-game winning streak snapped with a 12-6 loss to Eastern Illinois at Young Memorial Field.
Austin went 4-for-5 and stole four bases, one shy of the UAB single-game school record, while Frost went 3-for-4 with an RBI. But the offense stalled for UAB (5-3) after the early innings, while Eastern Illinois (1-7) did most of its damage in the middle frames on its way to evening this weekend's series at one game apiece.
"A great saying is that baseball is a game where you're either humble or you'll be humbled," UAB head coach Brian Shoop said. "It's a difficult game to play at a high level day after day. Today, we'll tip our cap to Eastern Illinois, and we'll come back out a try to win the series tomorrow."
Sunday's rubber game is slated for a 1 p.m. CT first pitch at Young Memorial Field.
Ignited Saturday by a triple from Austin and designated hitter Digger Towe's second two-run homer in as many days, UAB scored three runs in the first inning and jumped out to a 5-2 lead through three frames.
But things turned in the fourth when Eastern Illinois recorded the first of two four-run innings. A bases-clearing double from right fielder Daniel Rowe scored three of the runs, and an RBI single from third baseman Zach Borenstein plated the fourth to put the Panthers on top 6-5.
After the teams matched each other with single runs in the fifth, Eastern Illinois put up another four-spot in the sixth on a grand slam from designated hitter Richie Derbak off of UAB reliever Blake Huddleston as the Panthers opened up an 11-6 advantage.
"Yesterday, there were empty frames through the first five innings, and today there were almost no empty frames up there," Shoop said. "We had a heck of a time getting Eastern Illinois out, and they were able to capitalize on our mistakes."
Eastern Illinois tacked on one more run in the seventh, and Panthers' reliever Mike Hoekstra kept the Blazers off the scoreboard over the final four and one-third innings. After getting to EIU starter Mike Recchia for six runs in four and two-thirds, the Blazers managed just four base runners the rest of the way against Hoekstra, who earned the win.
Ryan Woolley took his first loss of the season for UAB after giving up seven runs in four and two-thirds innings. Tristan Farrell was the most effective Blazer pitcher in the game, holding Eastern Illinois scoreless over two and one-third innings of relief.
Austin's triple was one of three on the day for UAB, which entered the contest with just one triple in seven previous games. Towe and first baseman Luke Stewart also tripled in Saturday's game.
Derbak was one of six Eastern Illinois players to record two hits in the game, and he led the Panthers with five RBI. Rowe also collected two hits and scored four times.