May 20, 2006
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ----- The UAB baseball team rallied from an 8-0 deficit, the big inning a 10-run outburst in the eighth, to defeat No. 16 Tulane Saturday afternoon, 20-11, at Young Memorial Field. The Blazers' senior class was honored in the series finale as UAB completed a monumental comeback to secure a berth in the Conference USA Tournament for the third consecutive year.
The Blazers end the regular season with 19-37 record, and 6-19 in conference play. They advance to the conference tournament next week at Houston as the tournament will be hosted by Rice. UAB will square off against the host and No. 1-ranked Owls on Thursday, playing at 4 p.m. on day one of the championship.
Tulane finishes the regular season at 39-16. The Green Wave, who has clinched the No. 3 three seed in the upcoming C-USA championship, moves to 15-9 in league games. Tulane will square off against East Carolina in its first game of the tournament.
The 20 runs scored by the Blazers on Saturday bettered the previous season high of 16, as head coach Larry Giangrosso's squad pounded out 18 hits against Tulane pitching. Five UAB hitters had at least two hits on the game, and every Blazer starter recorded at least one single during the contest.
Jorge Gutierrez led the way, going 4-for-6 with three RBIs out of the leadoff spot. Steven Turner continued his torrid hitting, going 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI of his own. Turner completes an outstanding weekend that saw him go 7-for-9 (.778) with three extra base hits and nine runs. Donnie Muth chipped in a career-high three hits for UAB, while Levi Patmon and Ryne Lovdahl also had two hits for the Green and Gold.
That proved to be the first of a lot of scoring on the day, as UAB proceeded to score a run against Tulane in every inning starting with the bottom of the third. Turner was hit by a pitch, and came around to score on an error by the Tulane defense.
The Green Wave added two more runs in the top of fifth, and a single run in the sixth would close out the scoring for Tulane. Northington settled in after that, keeping Tulane scoreless down the stretch as the UAB offense went to work.
The Blazers were just getting started, however, scoring eight runs over the course of the fourth through the sixth innings to climb back into the ballgame. In the 4th, Turner's round tripper was the key blow in a four-run frame for UAB. J.R. Bond added a two-run single in the fifth, and two more runs crossed home plate in the sixth to make it 11-9 Tulane.
A single run in the seventh closed the gap to one, and set the stage for a late-inning rally that propelled the Blazers to the win. The bottom of the eighth started with a bang, as back-to-back doubles by Gutierrez and Patmon tied the game at 11.
Walks to Lovdahl and Muth loaded the bases with only one out for UAB. Zac Ward then delivered the crushing blow, sending a deep drive over the right field wall for a grand slam and the Blazers' first lead of the game. Ward's sixth home run of the year gave UAB the lead for good, and was the first grand slam of his collegiate career.
UAB didn't stop there, as it went on to score five more runs on four hits during the inning, closing out the scoring at 20-11. The senior lefthander shut the door after that, retiring Tulane in the ninth to clinch the victory.