May 12, 2012
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HOUSTON ---- Facing a six-run deficit entering the top of the ninth, the Blazers rallied to bring the tying run to plate, but Rice reliever Tyler Duffey recorded a strikeout to end the game and give the fifth-ranked Owls an 8-6 win on Saturday afternoon in game two of the series.
UAB falls to 27-25 overall and 7-13 in league play, while the Owls upped their record to 36-13, 15-5 C-USA. The Blazers will look to avoid the three-game sweep on Sunday at Reckling Park, with first pitch set for 1 p.m. CT.
“First game we saw the possible (C-USA) Pitcher of the Year (Matthew Reckling) and in the second game we saw the (C-USA) Pitcher of the Year from last year (Austin Kubitza),” head coach Brian Shoop said. “It’s tough and a tall order to do and you probably are going to have to win a low scoring game when you face those guys.”
The score was knotted at a run a piece, when Rice scored a total of five runs over the middle three innings to take control of the game, featuring homers from Michael Fuda and Craig Manuel.
Down 6-1 in the eighth, Ivan De Jesus roped a run scoring triple to right center, his fourth of the season, to cut the lead to four. However, Rice answered back with two runs of its own, which set up an interesting ninth inning.
Trailing by six runs, Wes Kent drew a one-out walk. After Rice recorded the second out of the frame, Chase Davis and John Frost reached on consecutive infield singles to load the bases. The three-hole hitter, Jeff Schalk, drew a walk to bring in the Blazers third run of the day. Schalk has now reached base in all 20 C-USA games this season.
The walk to Schalk ended the day for reliever Taylor Wall, as Rice called on Tyler Duffey to record the 27th out of the game.
Duffey uncorked a wild pitch with the sacks packed, allowing a run to score, before Patrick Palmeiro greeted the right-hander by lacing a two-run double, cutting the deficit to 8-6. Unfortunately for UAB, Duffey settled down and recorded a punch out to end the game and seal the victory for the home Owls.
Chase Mallard (3-4) was saddled with the loss out of the Blazer bullpen, who worked five innings in relief of Ben Bullard, who left due to injury.
“Bullard has been real good at keeping us in games and giving us quality starts, but when you lose him in the third it puts a strain on the bullpen,” Shoop said.
Chase Davis led the Blazer offense with a career day, going 3-for-5 with a run scored and one RBI out of the leadoff spot.
“Chase is going to be a good player for us,” Shoop said. “He is very fast and brings that element to the game that we don’t have and that came into play with his infield hits and advancing on dirt balls. He is a very capable player and has a bright future here.
Wes Kent recorded his first extra-base hit of his career, a third inning double and scored twice and De Jesus went 2-for-5 at the plate.
Austin Kubitza (5-3) worked the first 6.1 innings, scattering six hits, allowing one earned run with six strikeouts to earn the victory.