May 24, 2012
PEARL, Miss. ---- Leading 2-1 entering the top of the fifth inning, UAB scored a school record 13 times in the frame, cruising to a 15-1 seven-inning, 10-run rule victory against the UCF Knights in the Blazers first game of the Conference USA Tournament presented by Trustmark at Trustmark Park on Thursday.
UAB (30-27), the seventh seed, earned its fourth win over a nationally ranked team in 2012, second against UCF, as the No. 2 seed Knights (41-15) entered the contest ranked as high as 16th in the nation.
"Central Florida is obviously a great club. They are one of the premier teams in our league, without a doubt. They played for a conference championship, tallied 41 wins, obviously going to a regional," head coach Brian Shoop said.
The victory also marked the fourth time that head coach Brian Shoop's Blazers have won their first game of the league tournament, all coming as the lower seed. UAB previously knocked off the top-seed Rice Owls in 2011 and 2008, sandwiched around beating the third seed Houston Cougars in 2009 on day one.
"When you get into the tournament and it's a one game situation, anything can happen, which is why you fight to get in the tournament. They made some mistakes in that (fifth) inning, but give a lot of credit to our kids. We got 17 hits from our offense and (Michael) Busby was super on the mound, only allowing three hits," Shoop said.
Tournament action continues for the Blazers on Friday by taking on Tulane at 11 a.m. CT and will air on WJOX-AM 690 with David Crane on the call. Right-hander Ben Bullard will take the mound for the Blazers, while the Green Wave counters with righty Andrew Reeves.
The Blazers pushed across single runs in the third and the fourth, before the fifth-inning explosion. John Frost (3-for-5) knocked in the first run of the game, while a failed suicide squeeze, resulted in a double steal allowing Keith DePew to scamper home with the second run.
UCF was held hitless into the fourth by UAB starter Michael Busby (5-4). Darnell Sweeny broke up the no-hit bid by roping a double to lead off the frame and later come around to score the Knights lone run on an Alex Friedrich two-out single.
However, in the next half inning, UAB posted a record setting effort and put the game well out of reach.
In the fifth, the Blazers batted around, twice, as a total of 18 batters stepped in against four different UCF pitchers. Ivan De Jesus started the half inning, which lasted a total of 49 minutes, by walking against starter Eric Skoglund (5-2). The sophomore outfielder began a string of 13 consecutive batters reaching base as the inning featured seven hits, six walks, three wild pitches, two passed balls, two hit by pitches and two errors en route to UAB scoring the most runs in an inning in program history.
The previous record for runs scored in a single inning for the Blazers was set back on April 3, 1985, when UAB touched home 11 times against Jackson State. In fact, UAB's previous high for runs in a C-USA tournament game was 11 vs. Tulane in 2000, which the Blazers surpassed in just an inning of action.
Patrick Palmeiro executed a hit-and-run to knock in the first run to start the merry-go-round for the UAB offense and later De Jesus, DePew and Tanner Bryant all knocked in two in the fifth.
In total, UAB rapped out 17 hits, one shy of its season high, as eight of the nine starters recorded at least one, six of which posted multiple hits to fill up the box score. It marked the third time in four games this season that the Blazers recorded 15 or more hits against the Knights' staff.
Furthermore, UAB tied its season-high for runs in a game - set against Connecticut back on March 16 - as all nine starters touched home at least once.
De Jesus, Frost and DePew all recorded three-hit games, as the trio combined to score seven times and contribute six RBI. Ryan Ussery and Palmeiro each clubbed two hits and scored twice, while Bryant knocked in two more in the victory.
Lost behind the offensive outburst in the fifth, was the performance of right-handed starter Michael Busby. The senior, from nearby Vicksburg, Miss., fired the first six innings, holding the potent UCF lineup to one earned run off three hits. Busby fanned four, walked one and sent the Knights down in order in three of the six innings he worked.
"Michael Busby is what the NCAA wants for a student-athlete," Shoop said. "He's got a 4.0 (GPA). He's a model kid. I don't know how many hours he gives back to the community. Everybody loves him.
"He's been pitching the last half of the year with a sports hernia. He just goes out there and guts it out. We had him on the mound because he's the heart and soul of our team. That's who our guys would want to have on the mound in a big-game situation. Today was a Michael Busby day, and I couldn't be happier or prouder of him."
Fellow senior, David Hayes, pitched a scoreless seventh as the game was called due to the 10-run C-USA tournament rule being in effect.