May 17, 2014
BOCA RATON, Fla. – The No. 30 UAB baseball team wrapped up the 2014 regular season with an 8-6 victory at Florida Atlantic on Saturday. With the win, UAB finished in second place in Conference USA for the regular season, its best finish as a league member.
“It’s so easy to get caught up in the moment,” head coach Brian Shoop said. “When you are winning, being thrilled. When you are losing, being dejected. Body of work, the whole year, it’s a heck of year by a group of kids that most people to pick 11th or 13th in our league. I’m very proud of them. Now we get an opportunity for a second season in Hattiesburg.”
With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, senior right-handed pitcher Cameron Rose came on. Holding onto an 8-6 lead, Rose struck out the final batter of the game to seal the win.
“It wasn’t the best pitch, the strikeout pitch, but we got a swing and miss on it,” added Shoop. “You’ve got to use your guys. We have confidence in all of them. We went right-on-right with Cameron.”
Redshirt sophomore outfielder Griffin Gum and sophomore catcher Mitch Williams each recorded three hits on the day. Junior outfielder Chase Davis and Williams each had two runs batted in, as well.
UAB (35-19, 20-10) jumped out to an early lead, tallying five runs in the top of the second inning. With the bases loaded and one out, sophomore infielder Adam Smith recorded an infield single to plate the team’s first run. Davis doubled down the left field, his team-leading 11th double of 2014, to score two more runs. Senior designated hitter Ryan Prinzing used a sacrifice fly to push one more across and then Gum singled in the final run of the frame.
Florida Atlantic (28-25, 14-16) cut into the Blazers’ lead in the bottom of the third. Freshman infielder Stephen Kerr recorded a single with one out. Kerr advanced to second after a wild pitch and then moved over to third after a balk. An FAU groundout would plate Kerr. After redshirt junior left-handed pitcher Johnny Lieske issued a walk, Florida Atlantic senior outfielder Tyler Rocklein hit a triple to right center to score the team’s second run of the day.
The Blazers pushed two more runs across in the fifth inning. With runners on first and second and one out, Williams hit a double to deep right field to score Gum and move junior infielder Nathan Vincent to third. Redshirt junior first baseman Tyler Mims grounded out on the next play, but scored Vincent to give UAB a 7-2 advantage.
Once again, FAU would trim the visitors’ lead by two. An RBI single by redshirt freshman infielder Esteban Puerta would cut the UAB lead to 7-3. With the bases loaded, Kerr recorded an RBI after a sacrifice fly off Lieske, putting the host three runs down.
UAB would combat with a run of its own in its next at bats. After a Gum lead-off double and Schalk single, runners were on the corners for Williams with one out. Williams would record his second RBI with a single to give UAB an 8-4 lead.
The back-and-forth scoring continued in the bottom of the seventh. Redshirt senior right-handed pitcher Ben Bullard checked in for Lieske in the frame. Bullard hit the first batter he saw, walked one, and then gave up an infield single. After a strikeout, senior catcher Levi Meyer recorded a sacrifice fly to cut the UAB lead to 8-5. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Adam Lau came in for the final out of the inning and struck out Puerta.
Florida Atlantic would add another run in the eighth inning. With two outs and runners on first and second, Rocklein singled to score the lead runner. After a passed ball, runners were on second and third. Freshman infielder C.J. Chatham laced a liner to right field, but Schalk made a diving stop to end the inning.
The UAB baseball team now moves into postseason play at the 2014 Conference USA Tournament in Hattiesburg, Miss. UAB, the No. 2 seed, will play in the third game on Wednesday, May 21 at 4 p.m. CT.
Notes: The UAB baseball team wrapped a second-place finish in Conference USA for the 2014 regular season, its best finish as a league member … Junior outfielder Jeff Schalk extended his hitting streak to 11 games, the longest by a Blazer in 2014 … Redshirt sophomore outfielder Griffin Gum matched his career-high with three hits on the day … Junior outfielder Chase Davis and sophomore catcher Mitch Williams each had multiple RBI at FAU.
For the latest news on Blazer sports, follow the UAB Athletics Twitter account: @UABathletics. For baseball news, follow @UAB_Baseball.