Baseball Calms Crimson Tide, 9-1

April 10, 2012

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. ---- Five UAB pitchers combined to hold the Alabama offense to one run and Todd Wilkinson hit his second home run in as many games to lead the Blazers to a 9-1 victory at Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Tuesday night.

UAB (20-14) swept the two-game season series with Alabama (13-20) and held the Tide to just one run over the two ball games played in 2012.  The Blazers have won five of the last six meetings against the in-state foe.

“If you think about our pitching staff, we only gave up one in 21 total innings against (Alabama),” head coach Brian Shoop said.  “That obviously gives you a tremendous chance to win.”

Wilkinson finished the night 2-for-3, featuring a two-run homer in the sixth.   Ryan Ussery and Harry Clark each chipped in a pair of hits as eight of nine starters recorded a base knock on the night.

“Who thought that Todd Wilkinson would be leading us in home runs.  That was a bomb he hit (in the sixth) and it gave us a little bit of breathing room,” Shoop said.

Chase Mallard (2-2) earned the victory, working three scoreless innings in relief of starter Ruben Tresgallo who pitched the first two frames.  The right-hander gave just one hit and struck out one in his 14th appearance of the season.

Alex Luna, Ryan Nance and Jacob German combined to blank Alabama over the final four innings.

It took 12 innings for the first run to be scored in the first meeting between the two schools, but the Blazers took little time marking up the scoreboard on Tuesday against Tide starter Spencer Turnbull (1-3).

Ivan De Jesus started things off by putting together a quality at bat to work a walk.  John Frost followed him in the order and promptly continued where he left off against the Tide.  The DeCatur, Ala., native roped the game-winning RBI single in the 1-0 12-inning affair back on March 27. 

In his first at bat, Frost went shopping in the left-center field gap with a double, bringing De Jesus home from first for the quick score.  Jeff Schalk, who hit .500 (9-for-18) last week, continued to swing a hot bat, lining a RBI single to center, giving UAB a 2-0 lead after one half inning of play.

“We always tell guys – easier said than done – that pitchers are most vulnerable right out the shoot. We scored two (runs) before they got an out.  Then (Turnbull) settled down for them.  He has a really good arm and a bright future,” Shoop said.

Alabama, like the Blazers, struck quickly.  Leadoff hitter Taylor Dugas roped a triple to dead center field and would come in on a sac fly from Ben Moore.  However, that was all the Tide offense would be able to muster against the Blazer staff.

After the feverous start, the game hit a lull over the next four innings, until Todd Wilkinson provided some pop by smoking a two-run no doubt homer to left in the sixth.  The Blazers would tack on another run, extending the lead to 5-1, when De Jesus slapped a RBI base hit through the hole between shortstop and third base.

An inning later, UAB added four more runs to own a 9-1 lead and put the game out of reach.  The Blazers loaded the bases on walks to Patrick Palmeiro and Wilkinson, sandwiched around an Ussery single.  With Coy Arrowood at the dish, the Green and Gold tried to squeeze, but the bunt was missed. 

Still running on the play, Palmeiro was able to slide home safely for the first run of the frame.  Arrowood, Clark and DePew broke the game open by lining three straight RBI singles to round out the scoring on the night.

UAB will play the next 13 games in Birmingham, starting with a three-game series with Tulane on Friday.  First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT at Young Memorial Field.