March 26, 2010
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- UAB's Mitch Kloskowski out-dueled reigning Conference USA Pitcher of the Year Todd McInnis on Friday night as the Blazer baseball team opened league play with a 4-2 win over Southern Miss at Young Memorial Field.
First baseman Luke Stewart continued his red-hot hitting with two more home runs and has now homered six times over the past three games. Catcher Harry Clark and centerfielder Jamal Austin joined Stewart with two hits each for the Blazers, which extended their winning streak to five games.
Friday's game saw a total of four home runs between the teams, all of them of the solo variety, as UAB (12-7, 1-0 C-USA) defeated a team from Southern Miss (13-7, 0-1 C-USA) that came in with the league's best record.
The teams will complete their three-game weekend series with a doubleheader Saturday starting at 2 p.m. CT. The third game of the weekend was originally scheduled for Sunday but has been moved up because of weather concerns. Both games Saturday will be carried live in the Birmingham area on WJOX-AM 690.
In Friday's series opener, Kloskowski held the Golden Eagles to two runs on six hits in six and two-third innings on the way to his third win of the season. As good as he was, reliever Nick Graffeo was even more dominant over the final two and one-third frames. The senior allowed just one baserunner during that stretch as he saved his second consecutive game.
McInnis struck out nine Blazers in the contest but surrendered three early runs and finished his outing with four runs allowed in seven innings of work
"This was only one game, but it was a very good win," UAB head coach Brian Shoop said. "Todd McInnis is a really, really good pitcher, and Southern Miss is a very solid team. This was just a good college baseball game. It was well-played and well-pitched, and anyone here to see it had to have been entertained."
Stewart's first homer of the game came in the third inning and capped a stretch that saw the Blazers score once in each of the first three frames. The first two UAB runs came off RBI singles from designated hitter John Frost and second baseman Nick Crawford.
The first Southern Miss run came in the third on a home run from rightfielder Marc Bourgeois, and the score remained 3-1 through the middle innings.
The Golden Eagles clawed within one run at 3-2 on a solo shot from catcher Travis Graves in the seventh, but UAB quickly got that run back with Stewart's second long ball one inning later. Graffeo then allowed a leadoff single in the ninth to bring the tying run to the plate but retired the next three batters in order to close it out.
Friday's game was cleanly played by both teams with just one error and three walks for each side. In addition to his two hits, Clark walked once for UAB to reach base in three of his four plate appearances.
UAB has now won five of its past seven games against Southern Miss dating back to the 2008 season. With at least one win in Saturday's doubleheader, UAB would secure its third straight series victory over the Golden Eagles.