March 25, 2011
CHARLESTON, W. Va. -- UAB didn't lead until its final at-bat Friday night, but Dillon Napoleon kept the Blazers in the game until they could rally for two runs in the ninth to down Marshall 3-2 on a chilly night at Appalachian Power Park.
Harry Clark's RBI groundout tied the game, and Patrick Palmeiro scored on a wild pitch as the Blazers took the lead in the top of the ninth. Ryan Nance came in to pitch the bottom of the inning an allowed just one baserunner to close out the contest and give UAB a win in its Conference USA opener.
UAB has now won five games in its final at-bat, including its past four victories. The Blazers (12-9, 1-0 C-USA) and Thundering Herd (8-12, 0-1 C-USA) will continue their weekend series Saturday with a 7 p.m. ET (6 p.m. CT) first pitch.
Marshall did its only scoring Friday in the first inning and made that lead stand up until the ninth. Victor Ramos singled and Isaac Ballou walked to open the game, and both later scored on a single from James Lavinskas.
After allowing the two first-inning runs, Napoleon held Marshall without a run over the next six frames. He faced only two over the minimum through that stretch and didn't allow a runner past first base.
Napoleon finally ran into some trouble again in the eighth after a leadoff double by Kenny Socorro and a bunt single by Ramos put runners at first and third with one out. Napoleon then induced a groundout to keep Socorro at third and, after issuing an intentional walk to Victor Gomez, retired the next two batters to keep the Blazers within one run.
"Dillon was the story tonight," UAB head coach Brian Shoop said. "He was fantastic. He was dominant after the first inning and then he really gutted it out in the eighth. He had to muster up courage a bunch of times to get us out of that inning. That ranks up there with some of the better pitching performances I've been a part of."
UAB managed just two base runners through the first four innings against Marshall starter Shane Farrell before starting to make a few things happen offensively. The Blazers loaded the bases in the fifth but didn't score.
They then broke through one inning later when Nick Crawford walked, stole both second and third and then came home on a John Frost double. UAB threatened for more with Frost at second and one out, but Josh King came out of the Marshall bullpen to strike out the next two batters.
UAB didn't score again until the ninth against Marshall reliever Ian Kadish. Frost drew a leadoff walk, Palmeiro singled, and both advanced on a Keith DePew groundout. Another ground ball off the bat of Clark brought Frost home, and Palmeiro scored when a 2-2 pitch to Nance bounced in the dirt and got away from Marshall catcher Thor Meeks.
"We've had pretty good at-bats late in games recently," Shoop said. "When you do that, you have a chance. When you keep getting chances, you feel like something good is going to happen to you."
Frost has now driven in nine runs in the past seven games. Nance continued his dominance on the mound. The right-hander earned his fifth save and has still not allowed a run in 12.2 innings this season.
UAB managed to win despite having just four hits Friday. Marshall collected just six hits, and Ramos led all players with two hits.
Kadish suffered the loss for the Thundering Herd, while Naploeon earned the win for UAB to improve to 3-1.