April 2, 2011
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The UAB baseball team secured another weekend series victory on Saturday and won for the eighth time in its past 10 games with a 5-3 win over East Carolina at Young Memorial Field.
The Blazers (16-10, 4-1 C-USA) scored four runs in the third inning and led the rest of the way, defeating the Pirates (19-7, 2-3 C-USA) for the second straight day. The teams will close their series Sunday with a 1 p.m. CT first pitch.
UAB has now won all five true weekend series on its schedule, including the past two in Conference USA play.
"East Carolina is perennially one of the outstanding teams in this league, and they're outstanding again this year," UAB head coach Brian Shoop said. "Coach (Billy) Godwin has a program that expects to win, so those are good wins for us. But, like every other team in this great league, we certainly don't take the field expecting to lose."
As it has been during the Blazers' recent success, pitching was key again on Saturday. Ryan Woolley earned the win and worked into the sixth inning, allowing two runs (just one earned) before giving way to the bullpen.
Ben Bullard tossed three innings of relief, surrendering one run, and Ryan Nance needed just nine pitches in the ninth to close out the game and post his seventh save of the season and his fifth in the past 10 games.
Offensively, UAB managed three of its six hits in the big third inning. After loading the bases on a single from Jacob German, a double by Ryan Nance and a walk to Nick Crawford, the Blazers scored the first two runs when East Carolina third baseman Corey Thompson couldn't handle a sharply hit ball off the bat of Keith DePew.
A double steal then put runners at second and third before Crawford scored on a wild pitch by ECU starter Mike Wright. Patrick Palmeiro closed the scoring with a line-drive, RBI single just off the glove of outstretched Pirate shortstop Jack Reinheimer.
That proved to be the only inning in which either team scored more than a single run. East Carolina found the scoreboard in the fifth on an RBI groundout from Mike Ussery and added single runs in the sixth and eighth. UAB tacked on its fifth run in the fifth inning when DePew scored on Wright's third wild pitch of the day.
Woolley was especially effective early, allowing just two hits through the first four innings before a hit batter and wild pitch led to ECU's fifth-inning run. He left the game with runners at first and third and no outs in the sixth, but Bullard came in to induce a double play and a flyout to limit the Pirates to just one run in that inning, as well.
"I thought Ryan was really good through the first four innings," Shoop said. "From that point on, I felt like we really had to gut through it. He and Bullard really fought hard out there, and we felt good when we got the ball to Nance in the ninth."
Nance continued his string of scoreless innings to start the season. The UAB closer has still not allowed a run in 14.2 innings of work.
East Carolina's Ben Fultz led all players in the game offensively with a 3-for-3 effort, while Austin Homan added two hits for the Pirates. UAB's six hits came from six different players.
Wright wound up with the loss for ECU after surrendering five runs on five hits in six innings. Two of those runs were unearned as the result of two Pirate errors.