March 29, 2014
Box Score (PDF)
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The UAB baseball team recorded its second straight shutout with a 1-0 victory against No. 29 FIU on Saturday afternoon at Young Memorial Field. It marked the first time UAB has earned a shutout in consecutive games since March 2-3, 2007 against Central Arkansas.
With the win, UAB (19-8, 6-2) won a series against a ranked opponent for the first time since April 22-23, 2011 against then-No. 19 Rice. In addition, the Blazers won their fourth straight Conference USA three-game series, dating back to the Tulane set in 2013. This marked the first time the squad has won its first three conference series since 2011, as well.
“It is good, but this league is so competitive,” head coach Brian Shoop said. “You look at the scores and I think this league is going to come down to the last game and tie-breakers. Every win you get is precious when you get them. I’m grateful for this day and we will be back after it tomorrow.”
Junior right-handed pitcher Alex Luna continued his tear on the mound. Luna threw 7.0 scoreless innings, scattered six hits, struck out four, and did not walk one. The Huntsville, Ala. native has not allowed a run in 14.2 innings and has not issued a walk in 17.0 innings. Luna improved to 5-0 on the hill in 2014 with a team-best 0.84 ERA.
“Today was going to be near impossible to score,” added Shoop. “It was going to be a day when one might be enough and to score you might need help. Luna doesn’t help teams. He doesn’t beat himself. He doesn’t walk people. That always works to your advantage and has worked to Alex’s advantage all season.”
Neither team would record a hit in the first two innings. FIU (21-6, 6-5) registered an infield single in the third, but could not get its runner past second base.
UAB struck for its only run of the afternoon in the bottom of the third. Junior infielder Nathan Vincent started the inning off with a walk and then stole second base, his first stolen base of the year. Redshirt junior infielder Matt Morse hit a sacrifice bunt to advance Vincent to third. The next batter, sophomore infielder Adam Smith, hit a well-placed single through the right side to score Vincent and give the host team a 1-0 advantage.
The visiting Panthers put runners on second in the fifth and seventh innings against Luna, but could not get one past there. In the seventh inning and two outs, Luna picked off FIU sophomore infielder Edwin Rios at second for his final out of the day.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Cory Eller filled in for Luna in the eighth. After a strikeout and UAB error, FIU had a runner on first with one out. FIU senior outfielder Tyler Hibbert hit a line drive to redshirt sophomore Griffin Gum in right field. Gum snagged the liner, and then threw out the FIU runner to end the frame.
In the ninth, Eller walked the first batter of the inning, who then advanced to second on a throwing error by sophomore catcher Mitch Williams. Eller then forced a pop up and strikeout, before intentionally walking a batter and handing the ball over to senior left-handed pitcher Turner Lee.
Lee came in for the final out of the game and was successful. The Mobile, Ala. native forced a fly out to left field to end the contest and secure his first save of 2014.
FIU freshman right-handed pitcher Cody Crouse was charged with the loss for the Panthers. Crouse allowed one earned run, scattered five hits, struck out four, and walked one in 5.2 innings of work.
The Conference USA three-game series comes to a conclusion on Sunday afternoon at Young Memorial Field. First pitch is scheduled for 12 p.m.
Notes: The UAB baseball team earned shutouts in consecutive games for the first time since March 2-3, 2007 against Central Arkansas … UAB won a series against a ranked opponent for the first time since April 22-23, 2011 against then-No. 19 Rice … The Blazers won their fourth straight Conference USA three-game series, dating back to the Tulane set in 2013 … It marked the first time the squad has won its first three conference series since 2011 … Junior right-handed pitcher Alex Luna has not allowed a run in 14.2 innings and has not issued a walk in 17.0 innings … Luna owns a team-best 0.84 ERA and has struck out 34 on the year, while only walking two.
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