Baseball Strands Chances In 6-5 Loss To Memphis

RHP James Naile pitched seven strong innings out of the bullpen

May 23, 2013

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HOUSTON ---- The UAB offense was able to put runners on base all afternoon but was unable to cash in on its opportunities, falling to Memphis, 6-5, on Thursday at Reckling Park in the Conference USA Tournament.

UAB (22-36) stranded a season-high 16 base runners in the loss, as the Blazers have been mathematically eliminated from C-USA Championship contention. The Green and Gold will face fifth seed UCF to round out pool play on Friday at 7 p.m. CT in what will be the final game of the 2013 season.

In a rematch of the 2012 C-USA Championship title game, Memphis (35-23) took little time putting together something offensively against UAB starter Turner Lee (1-3). The Tigers pushed across four runs in the top of the first off three hits, including a two-run double by Drew Griffin to own a commanding lead early on.

The Blazers had opportunities in both the second and third, loading the bases in each frame, but coming up empty in the scoring department. Memphis starter Michael Wills allowed just a two-out single in the top of the first, but ran into trouble the next two innings.

UAB loaded the bases in the second with one out thanks to singles from Harry Clark and Tyler Hamby along with a walk drawn by Jacob German. Wills would escape by inducing a pitcher friendly 1-2-3 inning-ending twin killing.

An inning later, the Green and Gold filled up the bases yet again, this time with two outs on Jeff Schalk and John Frost singles and a walk to Clark. Wills dodged another bullet, as the southpaw recorded a looking strikeout to keep the 4-0 lead intact.

James Naile, who entered in the start of the third, cruised through the Tigers' lineup in relief, putting down eight batters in a row, before Tucker Tubbs launched a two-out solo blast to left in the top of the fifth. Memphis tacked on another run in the sixth, which proved to be the difference in the game on a RBI single by Zach Willis with two outs.

UAB pushed across its first run on a RBI single by Ryan Prinzing in the fourth.

Trailing 6-1, the Blazers chipped away at the Tiger lead. John Frost hit a sac fly in the sixth, while Tyler Hamby and Prinzing each brought home runs in the seventh.

In the eighth, it appeared as though UAB was going to tie up the score. Clark, who reached base safely in all five plate appearances (1-1, two walks, two hit by pitches) was hit by a pitch with one down. Griffin Gum followed up roping a RBI double off the wall in left-center to slice the Blazer deficit to a single run, 6-5. With two outs, up stepped Hamby, who hit a ball right on the nose, but right at Memphis shortstop Ethan Gross for the final out of the frame.

The Blazers made things interesting again in the ninth, getting the potential tying run into scoring position with two outs. Unfortunately, Memphis closer Jonathan Van Eaton shut the door for his 13th save of the season, ending the Blazers' playoff hopes.

The Blazers outhit the Tigers 12 to 11, but stranded a base runner in every inning, as Prinzing finished 3-for-6 with two RBI. Frost, Gum and Schalk all added two hits each as eight of the nine starters reached base in the loss.

Tiger reliever Hatfield (4-2) earned the win, pitching three innings of in relief and allowing only one earned run.

UAB received another stellar outing out of the bullpen from Naile, who did not figure in the decision. The righty went the final seven innings, scattered seven hits, allowed two runs and tied a career-high with six punch outs.