Blazers Stay Hot, Defeat Penn State 3-2

RHP Ben Bullard plitched 7.0 innings to earn his first victory in 2012

March 10, 2012

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ---- The UAB baseball team picked up another one-run victory, its seventh of the season, this time defeating Penn State 3-2 on Saturday afternoon at Young Memorial Field.

UAB (12-3) is now a perfect 7-0 in one-run contests along with an impressive 8-1 tally in home ball games. 

"The thing about winning one-run games earlier in the year, is that you expect to win them," head coach Brian Shoop said.  "That is a good feeling and I don't know if we have been there in other years.  Not that you can win every one of them, but we've had a sense in our dugout that they expect something good to happen."

Leading 3-1 in the top of the eighth, Penn State (2-11) loaded the bases with one out as closer Ryan Nance was faced with a dicey situation.  However, the senior was able to induce consecutive ground outs, allowing just one score and escape any further damage, still up 3-2.

Nance, who earned his fifth save of the season, breezed through the Nittany Lions in the top of the ninth, retiring the side in order to give the Blazers their sixth victory in a row and 11th in the last 12 contests.

Ben Bullard (1-1) pitched the first 7.0 innings and recorded his third consecutive quality start in as many outings.  The Decatur, Ala. native struck out three without walking a batter.  The Lions managed to score only two runs off the righty as he earned his first victory of 2012.

"We had that same combination as last Saturday with Bullard and Nance and they pitched really well for us again.  It certainly didn't come easy today and I didn't think it would, but another good win for our kids," Shoop said.

UAB etched the first run on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second against PSU hurler John Walter.  Ryan Ussery started the rally, drawing a walk and moved up two bases on a single by Jacob German.  The next batter, Keith DePew, took little time in the box, lacing the first pitch he saw back up the middle for a RBI single to take the 1-0 lead.

The only true threat the Lions put against Bullard came in the top half of third.  Aaron Novak connected for a solo homer to start the inning as PSU would then put two runners on with one out.  Bullard dodged the Lions scoring again by getting a ground ball double play to end the frame.

After PSU tied the score, UAB took little time in retaking the lead.  In the last of third, John Frost put down a bunt single and came around to score later in the inning on a RBI double off the bat of Jeff Schalk into the left-field corner.

In the bottom of the sixth, UAB added an insurance run, which it would cash in later in the game.  DePew started things off with a single to center and moved into scoring position on a sac bunt by Matt Morse.  After Walter uncorked a wild pitch allowing DePew to move up 90 feet, Ivan De Jesus smacked a single through a drawn in PSU infield to inflate the advantage to 3-1.

The Lions moved within a run after the eighth, but Nance shut the door in the ninth to preserve the one-run win.

De Jesus topped the Blazers with a 3-for-5 day, including a RBI.  His three hits tied a career-high, which he did against No. 16 Clemson earlier in the season.

Frost and DePew each added a pair of hits in the victory.

PSU's Novak was their primary force on offense, going 2-for-4 with a homer and scoring both of the Lions runs in the loss.

TIME CHANGE:  The Blazers will go for the series sweep on Sunday at Young Memorial Field.  The game time has been moved up to 11:30 a.m. CT.