May 4, 2013
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ---- The UAB baseball team rallied for three runs in the bottom of the eighth, but fell short to No. 18 Rice, 5-4, on Saturday evening at Young Memorial Field.
The second one-run game in as many days for the Blazers ended on the losing side as the Green and Gold fell to 18-30 overall and 4-13 in league play. The win improved the Owls to 30-15 and 10-7 in C-USA.
The rubber match of the three-game series will be played bright and early at 10 a.m. CT on Sunday morning.
Jordan Stephen (5-3) was in control throughout the night on the hill for Rice, striking out a career-high 11 batters in 7.2 innings to pick up the victory.
Things started off in favor of the Blazers, as UAB jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Ivan De Jesus led off the inning with ringing double before Ryan Prinzing smoked a RBI single to left to plate the first run of the day.
Rice would respond, putting up single runs in the second, third and fourth frames, ending the day for Blazer starter Sam Kelley (3-6). Kelley went 3.1 total innings, giving up three earned runs on eight hits.
The Owls added some much needed insurance runs in the sixth, scoring twice on RBI base hits from Ford Stainback and Leon Byrd.
Meanwhile, right-hander Stephens was in cruise control from the third to the eighth inning retiring 13 consecutive batters and 15 of 16 at one point. In the eighth is when UAB's offense finally started putting things in motion.
With two down in the frame and Prinzing on second after reaching on a fielder's choice and advancing on a Rice error, Tanner Bryant struck out for what appeared to the last out of the eighth. However the pitch made its way to the backstop allowing the Newnan, Ga., native to reach base and put runners on the corners. That would end the day for Stephens, as the Owls called on closer Zech Lemond to record the final four outs.
Lemond was greeted by three straight RBI singles by Harry Clark, Tyler Mims and Jeff Schalk to pull the Blazers within a run. Unfortunately for the home squad, Lemond escaped with a strikeout to end the eighth and send the Blazers down in order in the ninth for his 10th save of the season.
On offense, Schalk continued to swing a hot bat, going 2-for-4 with a double and one RBI.
Rice pounded out 13 hits in the victory, with Stainback going 3-for-4 with one RBI. Skyler Ewing, Leon Byrd and Shane Hoelscher all added two hits each.