April 19, 2014
HOUSTON, Texas – Rice junior first baseman Skyler Ewing hit a walk-off two-run home run off UAB freshman left-handed pitcher Thomas Lowery in the bottom of the 11th inning to hand the UAB baseball team a 5-3 setback on Saturday afternoon.
“It was a great game,” head coach Brian Shoop said. “All games are fine lines between winning and losing. We had a bang-bang play at the plate in the 10th inning. We thought he was safe. Our guy thought he was safe. If that call goes our way, we win. It could have gone either way. You feel great when it does and it is a quiet locker room when it doesn’t. We are in every game. We have a chance to win most of them.”
UAB (24-15, 10-7) had a chance to pull ahead in extra innings. Redshirt sophomore outfielder Griffin Gum drew a lead-off walk in the 10th inning. Junior first baseman Jeff Schalk moved Gum over to second after a sacrifice bunt and then Gum stole third. Junior infielder Nathan Vincent hit a ground ball to second base and Gum broke for home. Rice sophomore infielder Connor Teykl threw to home and Gum avoided the tag, but did not touch home and was eventually tagged out. The Blazers then loaded the bases, but could not push one across.
Rice (28-13, 15-5) jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. Rice junior first baseman Skyler Ewing led things off with a single up the middle off junior right-handed pitcher Alex Luna. Ewing advanced to second after Owls sophomore infielder Connor Tekyl grounded out. Luna looked like he would get out of the jam after a strikeout for the second out, but surrendered an RBI single to center field to Rice junior infielder Ford Stainback.
The Owls threatened in the fourth and fifth innings, but could not push one across. In the fourth, Ewing laced a double to left field off Luna with one out. It marked only the second double the junior right-handed pitcher had surrendered in 2014. The next batter walked, but Luna recorded a strikeout and fly out to end the threat. A great play by sophomore infielder Adam Smith put an end to another scoring opportunity for Rice in the fifth. With a runner on second and one out, Owls freshman outfielder Charlie Warren lined one up the middle. Smith snagged the liner then stepped on second base for an inning-ending double play.
The Green and Gold would plate their first runs of the weekend in the top of the sixth inning. With one out, Gum walked and Schalk singled to put runners on first and second. Vincent singled through the left side to plate Gum and move Schalk to third. After Vincent stole second, redshirt junior catcher Tyler Mims singled up the middle to score Schalk and Vincent and give UAB a 3-1 advantage.
Rice would cut into the Blazers’ lead in the bottom of the seventh. Lowery filled in for Luna in relief in the frame. Lowery gave up a single and double to the first two batters he faced. With runners on second and third and no outs, Rice’s Stainback hit a sacrifice fly to right field to plate one run and move the tying run to third. Lowery would force a strikeout and fly out to end the scoring chance.
The Blazers would have a chance to extend its lead in the top of the eighth inning. With one out, Vincent was hit by a pitch and sophomore catcher Mitch Williams singled to put runners on first and second. UAB then executed a double-steal to put runners on second and third with one out. Redshirt junior infielder Matt Morse struck out and then Smith flew out to right to end the frame.
The host squad would tie things up in the bottom of the inning. Junior catcher John Clay Reeves hit a fly ball to left field off Lowery. The ball would just clear the fence to knot the score, 3-3, heading into the ninth.
The three-game series will come to a conclusion on Sunday afternoon at Reckling Field. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Notes: Redshirt junior catcher Tyler Mims plated two runs on the day, his fourth multiple RBI game of the season … Junior infielder Nathan Vincent stole a career-high two bases on Saturday … Junior outfielder Chase Davis had his 12th multiple hit game of the year, which leads the squad.
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