May 1, 2011
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NEW ORLEANS -- Entering Sunday's series finale at Tulane, UAB sophomore Ben Bullard had 34 career appearances to his name but had never taken the mound in a starting role.
With the Blazers (25-19, 9-9 C-USA) in need of a win after dropping the first two games of the series, Bullard got the starting nod Sunday and fired seven innings of one-run baseball to pitch UAB to a 7-1 victory over Tulane (26-18, 6-9 C-USA) at Turchin Stadium.
The UAB right-hander allowed just four hits and struck out a career-best six batters as he made the longest outing of his career before handing the ball over to closer Ryan Nance, who tossed two scoreless innings to finish off the win.
"Ben's performance was great but not surprising," UAB head coach Brian Shoop said. "He's been one of our top arms and I thought he'd give us a good start, and he absolutely did."
UAB led from the beginning on Sunday, getting off to a fast start with back-to-back doubles from Nick Crawford and Jamal Austin to open the game. Austin later scored on an RBI groundout from Patrick Palmeiro to give the Blazers and early 2-0 lead.
Crawford and Austin each finished the day 2-for-4 with one RBI and two runs scored. The pair also reached to lead off the third inning and came home to score again on an RBI groundout from Harry Clark and a run-scoring single from Andrew Manning.
"I thought the first two at-bats of the game were huge," Shoop said. "They gave us some energy, and we were able to get back on track a little offensively. We hit very well situationally, we bunted very well, and we just did the things we do well today."
Tulane's only run came in the second inning after Bullard issued a one-out walk to Brandon Boudreaux, who took second on a balk and came around to score on a single from Nick Schneeberger.
Bullard then allowed just two more Tulane baserunners to reach second base over his final five innings of work as he improved his record to 5-1 on the year and 10-2 in his two years with the Blazers.
Bullard's previous longest outing came May 9 of last season in a series finale at Memphis, when he tossed six innings of relief to earn the win.
UAB later tacked on three more insurance runs Sunday over the final three innings. The Blazers scored one in the seventh after a leadoff double from Coy Arrowood, who then came home after back-to-back successful bunts from Keith DePew and Crawford. UAB then scored two eighth-inning runs on an RBI ground ball from Michael Busby and an Arrowood sacrifice fly.
With final exams this week, the Blazers will not play any midweek contests. The team will hit the road again next weekend for one of its two remaining league series as it travels to Southern Miss.