April 8, 2006
HOUSTON, Texas -- UAB's offense scored seven runs on Saturday, belting two home runs while pounding out nine hits against No. 3 Rice but the Owls prevailed, scoring a run in the bottom of the eighth to cap a 8-7 comeback victory here Saturday at Reckling Park in game two of a Conference USA series.
The loss dropped the Blazers to 13-19 on the year, and 0-5 in conference play. This setback marked the third one-run loss in a row for UAB, which has outhit Rice during the first two games of the weekend set. The No. 3 Owls improved to 27-8 on the year, and 7-1 in C-USA.
Four pitchers took the hill for head coach Larry Giangrosso's squad, with freshman Drew Murray taking the loss. Heath Tapscott got the start, lasting four innings and allowing four runs while fanning just one Rice hitter. He was relieved by Mitch Thorn, who came in to the 1.1 frames, giving up three hits on the outing. Murray was next to toe the rubber, with Jim Crew pitching the final out in the game for the Blazers.
UAB's bats came alive on Saturday, scoring five runs in the first their highest output since scoring 11 runs against Louisiana Tech last weekend. Ryan Metcalf was perfect on the day, going 3-for-3 with an RBI. Zac Ward went 2-for-5, including a monstrous home run, over 400 feet from home plate. Jorge Gutierrez also went 2-for-5 with an RBI, extending his team-high hitting streak to seven games. Danny Sawyer also went deep for the Blazers, launching a towering shot over the left field wall for his third home run of the season.
The Blazers jumped out of the gate against Rice, scoring three unanswered runs to start things off. Gutierrez's single in the first inning began the rally, and he was brought home when Ward hit his second triple of the year into the left center field gap to make it 1-0 UAB. A pair of RBI singles tacked on more runs for the Blazers in the second frame, as Metcalf ripped a single up the middle to score Phillip Bell
for the second run of the night. After Metcalf stole second base, he went on to score on Steven Turner's
line drive through the left side of the infield to push the lead to three.
Rice cut the margin in its next at bat, plating two runs to make it 3-2. The Blazers answered quickly, adding two runs to the scoreboard in the top of the third on Sawyer's blast. The junior from Suwanee, Ga., took a 3-2 pitch deep over the wall, scoring Gutierrez to make it 5-2.
A seesaw battle then ensued, as both teams took turns scoring runs during the middle innings. Rice was first, adding three runs in the fourth and fifth to tie the game at five. Rice's rally in the fourth could have deadlier, but UAB turned a triple play to end the threat. The Blazers reclaimed the advantage in the sixth when a Gutierrez RBI groundout scored Metcalf. The Owls immediately counter punched, pushing across two runs in its half of the sixth inning to take its first lead of the game at 7-6.
The lead didn't last long, as Ward took an 0-1 breaking ball and deposited it over the center field wall for his fourth home run of the season. The Ward blast tied the game at seven.
Rice had the last hurrah of the afternoon, however, scoring a single run in the bottom of the eighth to take the lead for good. Joe Savery's single up the middle scored Tyler Henley to make it 8-7 Owls. UAB failed to mount a comeback in the ninth, as Will McDaniel closed the door for Rice to secure the win.
These two teams will meet for the final time on Sunday, as the three- game set will come to a conclusion at Reckling Park. Grant Addison will take the mound for UAB, as the Blazers look to salvage the final game of the series. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. and can be followed online with gametracker, available at Rice's website, www.riceowls.com. For complete postgame coverage, check www.uabsports.com.