April 7, 2012
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ORLANDO ---- The UAB baseball team hung right with the 14th-ranked UCF Knights, but a pair of late homers downed the Blazers, 7-3, on Saturday afternoon at Bergman Field.
UAB (19-13, 3-5 C-USA) will take the field against UCF (25-7, 6-2) on Sunday for the series’ rubber match. First pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m. ET.
“We had runners first and third four times and only scored one run,” head coach Brian Shoop said. “We had tons of opportunities, we just didn’t produce.”
The Blazers totaled nine hits a as club, topped by outfielder Ivan De Jesus who finished 3-for-5 with a pair of runs scored out of the leadoff slot in the lineup.
Six other players recorded a hit each. Jeff Schalk knocked in two, while Patrick Palmeiro went 1-for-2 with an RBI and three walks.
In addition to the nine hits, UAB drew seven walks against four different UCF pitchers. But, the Blazers were unable to take advantage of the free passes, stranding 12 runners on base.
Things appeared to be heading in the right direction for the Blazers in the top of the first against Knights’ starter Chris Matulis. The lefty allowed a leadoff double to De Jesus and issues back-to-back one-out walks to load the bases. Matulis was able to settle down and strikeout the next two batters to keep UAB off the scoreboard.
UCF would strike first, putting up a two-spot in the bottom of the second on a RBI ground out from James Vasquez and run scoring single from Travis Shreve. Blazer starter Ben Bullard (2-4) would get out of a jam, as the UAB infield spun an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Neither squad touched home in the third or fourth, setting up an action packed filled fifth frame.
The Blazers filled up the bases with one down for Palmeiro. The cleanup hitter drew a four-pitch walk to bring home the first UAB run. Schalk followed with a base hit to center, plating the tying run and ending the day for Matulis. With the bases still loaded, Busby lined a shot right at center fielder Ronnie Richardson who came up firing to nab John Frost trying to score from third to end the inning.
UCF tacked on single runs in the fifth and sixth prior to three-run homer from pinch hitter Jeramy Matos in the seventh, which proved to be the back-breaking play in the ball game.
“If we don’t give up the three-run homer on a miss located pitch it is a different game,” Shoop said. “It was a 7-3 score, but a very close game that we really had an opportunity to win.”
UAB made it interesting in the ninth, loading the bases with no outs, but the Blazers would manage to score just one run as the Knights evened up the series.
“I told the guys after the game ‘that’s the 14th ranked team in the country lets win the series, we are right there,” Shoop said.
Bullard grinded his way through the first 6.0 innings, giving up four earned runs on eight hits along with a pair of punch outs, but suffered the loss.
Lively fired 2.2 innings out of the UCF bullpen, to earn the win, improving to 4-0 on the season.