April 8, 2011
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HOUSTON -- The UAB baseball team exploded for six runs in the fifth inning Friday night to give starting pitcher Dillon Napoleon more than enough support in a series-opening 10-1 victory over Houston at Cougar Field.
UAB (17-12, 5-2 C-USA) won the opening game for the third time in three Conference USA series. The Blazers and Cougars (16-16, 3-1 C-USA) will meet for game two of the weekend Saturday at 6:30 p.m. CT.
UAB's Jamal Austin and John Frost drove in three runs each, and Texas native Ryan Nance had a pair of hits and drove in two runs playing in front of a large contingent of family and friends.
"Ryan had a good night in front of a lot of family, and that was neat," UAB head coach Brian Shoop said. "I had a hunch and put him back in the six-hole tonight, and he hit the ball well several times."
Napoleon earned his third straight win to start conference play as he improved to 5-1 on the year. The right-hander allowed just five hits in seven innings and surrendered his only run on a solo homer by Houston's Codey Morehouse in the third inning.
"Dillon had another great outing," Shoop said. "I actually thought Houston's hitters did a good job of making him work and getting his pitch count up. He was at 110 pitches when he came out, which was as far as we were going to let him go, but he was very effective again."
Napoleon didn't pitch into the eighth inning for the first time in his past four starts, but he didn't have to. UAB's six-run fifth put the game out of reach.
The Blazers sent 12 batters to the plate in the fifth and racked up seven of their 11 hits as they matched their biggest single-inning run output of the season. Austin drove in a pair of runs with a double, and Nance had a two-RBI triple. Frost and Harry Clark both added run-scoring singles as UAB opened up an 8-1 lead.
UAB did all of that damage against Houston starter Matt Creel, who pitched 4.2 innings and suffered the loss. The Blazers later added a pair of runs against Cougar reliever Chase Wellbrock on a two-run blast by Frost in the sixth inning.
Patrick Palmeiro also homered in the game for UAB, hitting his fourth of the season. The three combined home runs by the teams were the most in any UAB game this season.
Chase Mallard tossed the final two innings in relief of Napoleon and allowed only one base runner. Defensively, the Blazers played their seventh error-free game in their past 10 contests.