April 24, 2013
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ---- From start to finish sophomore right-hander Alex Luna was in control, facing the minimum in a three-hit complete game shutout to lead the UAB baseball team in a 7-0 victory against Alabama State on Wednesday night at Young Memorial Field.
Luna (1-3), who was dominant all night in his first victory of the season, faced just 27 batters and retired 16 consecutive Hornets from the second through the eighth inning. Only three Alabama State (28-18) batters reached base against the Huntsville native.
Richard Gonzalez singled with one out in the first inning, but was erased on an inning-ending double play. Dillon Cooper reached safely on a bunt single, but was caught stealing in the second. The only other base runner was Leo Rojas, who started the eighth frame with a bloop double but was also caught stealing.
"(Alex) Luna was unbelievable tonight for us," head coach Brian Shoop said. "It was our best outing of the season and it was a clinic on pitching. He was a strike machine and was a head in the count all night."
Luna's performance was the first complete game blanking of an opponent since Michael Busby shut out Houston nearly a year to day, back on April 29, 2012.
On the night, Luna utilized his defense, inducing 13 ground outs (including a double play), one fly out and battery mate Jacob German caught two runners stealing to go along with his career-high 10 strikeouts. In fact, only two balls put in play made it out of the infield, which accounted for two of the three hits.
Of Luna's 10 strikeouts, five were looking with the other five were swinging. In total, Luna needed just 82 pitches in the complete-game effort, with 59 being strikes. His outing was the longest and he recorded the most strikeouts by a UAB pitcher this season.
"The key tonight was throwing strikes and pitching to contact," Alex Luna said. "The defense made some incredible plays behind me, which made it pretty easy for me.
"It felt great to have my fastball working for me with movement and my off-speed pitches were effective for strikes, which was big for me tonight."
In addition to the stellar performance by Luna, in which he set career-bests in innings pitched and punch outs, UAB (17-25) pounded out 12 hits en route to scoring seven runs.
The Blazers scored all seven runs in three innings as the first three hitters in the lineup -- Ryan Prinzing, Chase Davis and John Frost -- combined to go 6-for-12 at the plate and scored five runs.
Tanner Bryant posted two hits, while Ivan De Jesus, Jacob German and Tyler Mims all knocked in a run. Of UAB's 12 base knocks, five went for extra bases, as Frost and Bryant each hit doubles, while Prinzing, Davis and De Jesus all tripled in the victory.
"We were able to get some two-out hits and put some runs on the board, but the night belonged to Alex Luna," Shoop said.
A total of five pitchers saw action on the rubber for Alabama State, with lefty starter Matt Burnside (1-2) suffering the loss. Burnside went the first four innings, giving up two earned runs off five hits.
UAB is off until Friday, when the Blazers take a road trip to Hattiesburg, Miss., to play Southern Miss in a three-game series. First pitch on Friday is slated for 6 p.m. CT. Saturday's contest will be televised by Fox Sports Net and will also start at 6 p.m. CT.