May 18, 2006
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - UAB stood three outs from a game one win against No. 15 Tulane on Thursday night, a victory that could bring them one step closer to clinching a spot in its third straight conference tournament. Two walks and groundout later, the Green Wave tied the game in the top of the ninth and rallied with two in the 11th to capture an 8-6 win at Young Memorial Field.
The loss drops UAB to 18-35 on the year, and 5-16 in conference play. The Blazers, due to a UCF loss against Southern Miss on Thursday night, are still clinging to the final seed in hopes of making it to Houston, Texas, for the Conference USA Championship. Tulane, who has locked in the No. 3 seed for the upcoming tournament, won its ninth game in a row and is now 37-16 on the season, and 14-8 in league games.
The ballgame had four lead changes, with both teams mustering comebacks from deficits in the late innings. Ben Styes took the hill for UAB, and the sophomore from Clay, Ala., threw a career high six innings, allowing four earned runs while striking out three. Jacob Legg and Kasey Croft followed, keeping the game within reach while the Blazer offense chipped away at the margin.
The Green Wave scored a single run in the third to make it 1-0, but finally solved Styes in the sixth, scoring three to take the biggest advantage of the game at 4-0. The lead wouldn't last long, as the Blazers retaliated with a four spot of their own in the bottom half of the inning. Steven Turner opened up the frame with a triple deep into right center, and after a Jorge Gutierrez walk Levi Patmon doubled home Turner to score the first run of the game for UAB.
Tulane responded with a single run in the seventh to retake the lead. Head coach Larry Giangrosso's squad mustered up a two-run rally that saw the Blazers take their first advantage of the contest. A double steal by Turner and Ryan Metcalf ignited the offense, and a sac fly by Patmon coupled with a Green Wave wild pitch made it 5-4 UAB.
The top of the ninth began with UAB holding a slim advantage, but the Tulane offense worked a walk and singled to open the frame and put runners on. Drew Murray, slated to be the starter in Saturday's finale, was summoned to attempt to keep the Green Wave from coming away with lead. Murray did just that, inducing a double play and strikeout, but the damage was done as Tulane tied the game at four heading into the bottom of the ninth.
The contest was then turned over to both bullpens, as Murray and Tulane reliever Trey Martin traded zeros on the scoreboard for in the 10th inning. The Green Wave finally broke through in the 11th, touching up Murray for two runs to make it 8-6.
Closer Daniel Latham then took over in the bottom half, striking out the side to pick up his 14th save of the season and seal the win for Tulane.
Game two of the series is Friday night at 7 p.m., as UAB starter Jim Crew takes to the hill in hopes of tying the series at one for the Blazers. Follow every pitch online with gametracker, available at the UAB athletics website, www.uabsports.com.