UAB Takes Fifth Straight C-USA Series At LA Tech

Freshman left-handed pitcher Thomas Lowery secured the sweep with his third win of 2014.

April 5, 2014

Final Stats (Game One)Final Stats (Game Two

Box Score (Game One) | Box Score (Game Two)

RUSTON, La. – The UAB baseball team won its fifth consecutive three-game Conference USA series on Saturday afternoon at Louisiana Tech. In its first doubleheader of the 2014 season, UAB recorded a 4-2 win in the first game and was victorious, 7-4, in the later contest. It marked the squad’s first C-USA sweep since April 27-29, 2012 against Houston and first on the road since May 11-13, 2007 at Marshall.

“I hate doubleheaders, they are long, long days,” head coach Brian Shoop said. “Our game is designed to be a one game a day sport, I think. It’s hard to sweep. Three-game sweeps are hard to come by in our league. They just don’t happen routinely. To get that third win, it is a good win for our kids. I am proud of our kids, especially to do it on the road.”

UAB (22-10, 9-3) exploded for 19 runs on the weekend, its most runs scored in a three-game series in 2014. In total, the Blazers outscored Louisiana Tech (9-21, 3-12), 19-7 in the set at J.C. Love Field.

“I thought we were sluggish for a week,” commented Shoop. “I hoped that we get well this week. This is more of an offensively-friendly park, but we squared up a lot of balls and dented the scoreboard pretty good offensively. That was a good weekend for the offense.”

Game One: Louisiana Tech took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. UAB redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Johnny Lieske allowed two singles to open the frame. With runners on first and third, the host team executed the double steal to put one run on the board.

In the second inning, Louisiana Tech redshirt senior outfielder Stephen Gandy opened the frame with a double over UAB senior outfielder Ivan De Jesus. After a LA Tech groundout, Bulldogs redshirt senior infielder Ryan Jones recorded an infield single, plating Gandy and giving the hosts a 2-0 edge.

The visiting Blazers had two solid scoring opportunities in the fifth inning. With one out, junior infielder Nathan Vincent hit a deep fly ball to center field. Louisiana Tech redshirt junior outfielder Colby Johnson settled under the ball, but could not make the catch, allowing Vincent to reach third. Sophomore infielder Evan Peterson then hit a ground ball to first base, but Vincent was thrown out at home. After Peterson reached on the fielder’s choice, two Blazers earned walks to load the bases. De Jesus grounded out to second to end the threat.

One inning later, UAB finally broke through. With two outs and runners on first and second, Vincent hit a single to left field to plate senior designated hitter Ryan Prinzing. One batter later, Peterson recorded an infield single. Louisiana Tech sophomore infielder Taylor Love attempted to get Peterson at first, but made an errant throw. Junior first baseman Jeff Schalk was able to come home from third on the play, tying the contest. Sophomore infielder Adam Smith then smacked single to third base, scoring Vincent and giving the visitors its first lead of the day, 3-2.

Senior left-handed pitcher Turner Lee was superb in relief of Lieske. The Mobile, Ala. native pitched the final 3.2 innings, did not allow a hit, matched a career-high with six strikeouts, and only walked one in his second save of 2014.

In the ninth inning, UAB added an insurance run. Junior outfielder Chase Davis reached first after getting hit by a pitch and then stole second base. After a De Jesus groundout moved Davis over to third, Prinzing hit a base knock to right to score Davis.

Game Two: The UAB baseball team got on the board early in the second game of the day. Schalk and Vincent led off the second inning with back-to-back singles. Peterson moved the two over after a sacrifice bunt. Redshirt junior catcher Tyler Mims hit a single to right field, scoring Schalk. Smith, the next batter, grounded out to second, but was able to plate Vincent to give UAB a 2-0 lead.

Louisiana Tech threatened in the bottom of the second. LA Tech had runners on the corners with one out. Louisiana Tech redshirt junior catcher Jacob Derouen popped up towards the home dugout. Vincent ran in from third base and reached over the dugout fence for the catch. Vincent then fired the ball to Peterson in an attempt to get the LA Tech runner on first. Peterson threw it to Schalk, who threw a dart to Mims at home and got the Bulldogs runner streaking for the plate.

The host-Bulldogs put together its first run of the game in the following inning. Love smacked a solo home run over the right field fence to trim UAB’s lead to 2-1. It marked the first home run surrendered by junior right-handed pitcher Alex Luna in 2014. In addition, it snapped his scoreless streak at 17.1 consecutive innings.  

UAB would respond quickly, adding two more runs to its lead in the top of the fourth. With runners on first and second, Mims hit a singled through the left side for his second RBI single of the day. Smith moved runners over with a sacrifice bunt, and then Davis grounded out to second, but scored Peterson.

Three more runs would cross home in the fifth inning for UAB. Vincent hit a two RBI double to left field for his third hit of the game. Peterson then hit an RBI single to center field, plating Vincent and extending the Blazers’ lead to 7-1.

Louisiana Tech would plate one run in the seventh after an errant throw by Peterson allowed the runner to cross. In the eighth inning, the Bulldogs would tally two more runs on three hits, but that would be the closest the home team would get.

Freshman left-handed pitcher Thomas Lowery was credited with his third win of the season. Lowery went 2.2 innings, allowed one hit, struck out three, and did not walk one.

The UAB baseball team is back in action on Tuesday, April8 against in-state foe Alabama. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Notes: The UAB baseball team won its fifth straight Conference USA series dating back to the Tulane series in 2013 … It marked the squad’s first C-USA sweep since April 27-29, 2012 against Houston and first on the road since May 11-13, 2007 at Marshall … Senior left-handed pitcher Turner Lee fanned a career-high six batters in the first contest in Saturday’s doubleheader … Junior right-handed pitcher Alex Luna had his scoreless streak snapped in the second game, going 17.1 innings without giving up a run … Luna also walked his first batter in 20.1 innings … Redshirt junior catcher Tyler Mims, in his first game of the weekend, had two RBI in the series finale … Junior infielder Nathan Vincent and sophomore infielder Adam Smith each recorded an RBI in the first game on Saturday afternoon … Vincent set career-highs with three hits and  two RBI in the second game, finishing with three RBI on the day.

For the latest news on Blazer sports, follow the UAB Athletics Twitter account: @UABathletics. For baseball news, follow @UAB_Baseball.