April 6, 2010
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Luke Stewart and Jamal Austin racked up four hits each Tuesday night, and the UAB pitching staff worked out of two major jams as the Blazers defeated 19th-ranked Alabama, 11-4, to give head coach Brian Shoop his 100th victory with the program.
Tuesday's win also secured a sweep of the two-game season series between the teams for UAB (18-9), which also defeated the Crimson Tide (19-9) last week at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala.
UAB's Jonathan Merritt had two hits in Tuesday's game, including a key three-run double as part of a five-run fourth inning for UAB. The Blazers also scored three times in the third as eight unanswered runs put UAB in control, 8-1.
Shay Crawford worked five complete innings to earn the win and allowed only the first batter of the game to cross the plate against him. Crawford pitched out of a bases-loaded jam with no outs in the first inning, utilizing one of his four strikeouts and one of four UAB double plays, to allow only one unearned run.
"I didn't think we threw great tonight, but I was proud of the way we hung in there and competed," Shoop said. "I was encouraged by Shay. He's struggled a little bit recently, and to get out of that first inning giving up just one run was huge.
"We're playing pretty well right now. We're playing with confidence, and we're going to ride that out as long as we can."
Crawford surrendered just two hits, which came back-to-back in the third inning, but both happened with two outs as the left-hander fanned two in the inning. He walked four batters on the night but got through his five innings on 76 pitches.
In another bases-loaded situation in the seventh, this time with one out, UAB reliever Benji Waite induced a fly ball out from Jake Smith, and right fielder Ryan Ussery then cut down Alabama's Ross Wilson trying to tag from third as the Blazers escaped more potential damage to preserve an 8-4 lead.
UAB added an insurance run in the seventh on an RBI single from Harry Clark and then tacked on two more in the ninth on a two-run home run from Andrew Manning, who hit his fifth long ball of the year.
The Blazers pounded out a season-high 16 total hits in the game as they managed to beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa for the first time since 2001. In addition to the three RBI from Merritt and two from Manning, Nick Crawford also drove in two runs for UAB.
Alabama's Clay Jones matched Stewart and Austin for game-high honors with four hits in four at-bats, while David Kindred added a pair of hits and posted a two-RBI double as part of a three-run seventh inning for Alabama.
In addition to claiming his 100th victory at UAB, Shoop also moved within eight wins of the 800-win mark for his career. Now in his 21st season as a head coach, Shoop owns a career record of 792-409-1.
The Blazers, which have won 11 of their past 13 games, return to Conference USA action this weekend with a three-game home series against Marshall. First pitch in Friday's series opener is slated for 6:30 p.m. CT at Young Memorial Field.