May 12, 2006
Greenville, N.C. - Phillip Bell's two-run homer brought UAB within four runs in the eighth inning, but the Blazers failed to complete the comeback falling to East Carolina 11-6 in the opener of a three-game C-USA set at Clark-LeClair Stadium on Friday night.
UAB falls to 18-32 on the year with the loss, and moves to 5-14 in league play. East Carolina picks up its 30th victory of the season, and moves to 8-11 in Conference USA. Due to a UCF loss against Memphis, the Blazers remain in the final slot to make the conference tournament if the season ended today.
The Green and Gold was out hit 17 to seven on the night, and never held a lead in the contest. The Pirates, who are 24-9 in the friendly confines of Clark-LeClair, jumped out of the gate early against UAB starter Randy Mills. ECU scored three in its first at-bat, and tacked on two more in the second to take a 5-0 advantage.
Ben Styes was summoned to relieve Mills, who failed to make it out of the second inning. Styes took the ball for the middle frames, tossing 4.1 innings while allowing three earned runs. The Blazers fell down by eight, and attempted to mount a rally in the late innings in hopes of capturing its sixth conference win of the year.
Things kicked off in the top of the sixth, when Steven Turner led off with a solid single to center field. Jorge Gutierrez reached on a fielder's choice, and advanced to second when Levi Patmon drew a base-on-balls. Bell drew a walk of his own, loading the bases for UAB with two outs.
ECU tacked on an insurance run in the bottom half of the inning, pushing the margin to six runs. Bell altered that amount, connecting for his third home of the year in the top of the eighth. The deep blast over the left field wall scored himself and Danny Sawyer to make it 9-5.
The Pirates continued to add on to the lead, scoring two more to reach their final total of 11. UAB closed out the scoring in the top of the ninth, when a Turner sacrifice fly scored Donnie Muth.
Game two of the series is set for a 2 p.m. ET start, as UAB ace Jim Crew will head to the mound looking to even the series at one. The game can be followed online with gametracker, available at ECU's website, www.ecupirates.com. For complete postgame coverage, check www.uabsports.com.