April 20, 2014
HOUSTON, Texas – The UAB baseball team lost 5-3 to No. 14 Rice in the series finale on Sunday afternoon. With the setback, it marked the first time UAB had been swept in a three-game series in 2014.
“It was evenly-matched in terms of competitiveness of the games,” assistant coach Perry Roth said after the game. “All three were close. When you give up 12 runs in three games, you should have a tremendous shot at a series. We had ourselves in positions to win. Credit them, they don’t beat themselves, they throw strikes, and play the game the right way.”
Junior outfielder Chase Davis had three hits on the day to lead UAB (24-16, 10-8). Junior infielder Nathan Vincent matched his career-high with two RBI on the day, as well.
For the third consecutive game, the opposition put runs on the board first. Rice (29-13, 16-5) plated one run in the first inning. The Owls led things off with consecutive singles. The runners moved over to second and third after a sacrifice bunt. Redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Johnny Lieske intentionally walked one to load the bases and have a force out at every base. Rice senior infielder Shane Hoelscher hit a ground ball to third base and was out on the play, but scored the runner from third.
In the third inning, Rice added two more runs. Lieske walked the first two batters he saw in the frame. Rice junior infielder Ford Stainback moved the runners over to second and third after a sacrifice bunt. The next two Owl batters singled to left field, each collecting an RBI along the way.
The visiting Blazers had their first scoring chance in the sixth inning. Davis and senior designated hitter Ryan Prinzing led off the frame with consecutive singles. Redshirt sophomore outfielder Griffin Gum grounded out to the pitcher, but advanced the runners. The very next batter, junior first baseman Jeff Schalk, looked like he was going to plate a run or two. Schalk smacked a liner, destined for right field. Rice junior first baseman Skyler Ewing snatched the liner to hold UAB off the board. Sophomore catcher Mitch Williams was hit by a pitch to load the bases after, but three were left on after sophomore infielder Evan Peterson flied out to right field.
Rice was able to put one more on the board in the bottom of the frame. With runners on first and second and two outs, Rice junior catcher John Clay Reeves hit a line drive to center field. UAB sophomore infielder Adam Smith leapt up, but could not grab the liner and one run would come across.
UAB would finally breakthrough in the top of the eighth inning. Davis led off the inning with a single, his third hit of the day. Prinzing struck out swinging and then Gum hit an infield single. Rice senior infielder Shane Hoelscher attempted to get Gum at first and made an errant throw, allowing Davis to get to third. Schalk then dropped a ball into left field to score Davis. After a Williams fly out and Peterson was hit by a pitch, the bases were loaded for Vincent. Vincent doubled down the left field line to score two more and cut Rice’s lead to 4-3.
“It’s really, really difficult to get any sort of tempo going after the way we went about our business early,” added Roth. “It really, really puts you back on your heels a little bit. It took us a while to get into a rhythm. You keep trying to compete and grind out quality at bats.”
The host Owls would not let UAB back in so easily. With a runner on second and two outs, Rice freshman outfielder Charlie Warren placed a single just over the outstretched arms of UAB’s Smith at shortstop, scoring the Rice runner from second and giving the home team a 5-3 edge heading into the ninth.
The Blazers will be back in action on Friday, April 25 when they host Marshall in its first game of a three-game set. It marks the squad’s final three-game series at Regions Field in 2014.
Notes: Junior outfielder Chase Davis had multiple hits for the 13th time in 2014, which leads the squad … For the 13th time this season, Davis led off the game with a hit, as well … Junior infielder Nathan Vincent matched his career-best with two RBI on the day … Redshirt senior right-handed pitcher Ben Bullard made his 62nd appearance on the mound of his collegiate career, four shy of 10th place in program history.
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