Feb. 20, 2001
ABOUT THE BLAZERS: UAB enters the midweek road swing with a 2-2 record, coming off a 6-1 loss to Southern Illinois on Sunday (2/18) in the final game of a three-game weekend series with the Salukis....Southern Illinois took the series with an 8-7 win in 15 innings on Saturday and and the 6-1 win on Sunday...the Blazers won the Friday game -- which was not completed until Saturday because of severe weather -- 11-7...UAB won its season-opener 19-3 over Alabama State
UAB vs. BELMONT: The Blazers and Bruins are meeting for the fourth time...UAB leads the series 3-0, dating back to the 1999 season...last year, the Blazers won 23-8 at Young Memorial Field in Birmingham (4/11/00)...previous meetings include an 11-10 UAB win in 11 innings (Birmingham, 4/7/99) and an 8-4 Blazer victory in Nashville (2/16/99).
UAB vs. VANDERBILT: The Commodores lead the all-time series 18-11, dating back to the 1980 season...last season the two split a pair of games, with Vanderbilt winning 6-4 in Nashville (2/22) and UAB winning 12-2 at Young Memorial Field (3/8).
STARTING PITCHERS: The projected starter for Tuesday's Belmont game is right-hander Ross Dobbins (1-0, 1.80 ERA), the projected starter for Wednesday's game at Vanderbilt is left-hander Joe Yarbrough(1-0, 1.93 ERA) . Dobbins had a terrific outing in his start vs. Alabama State on Feb. 13, working five complete innings, allowing one run on two hits, walking one and striking out nine. Yarbrough started the first game of the Southern Illinois series (Feb. 16) and was also impressive, working four and two-thirds innings, allowing one run on two hits, with two walks and six strikeouts. Both players are newcomers to the UAB team in 2001.
UNFAMILIAR FACES: The 33-man 2001 UAB Baseball roster includes 20 newcomers (nine pitchers), six of whom were in the starting lineup on opening day (Feb. 13) vs. Alabama State...so for a while at least, you truly won't be able to tell the players without a scorecard.
FAMILIAR SURROUNDINGS: The 2001 Blazers will play 19 of their first 22 games in the friendly confines of Young Memorial Field. UAB doesn't embark on a major road swing until late March, when the team plays four straight games away from home.
DO WE SEE A PATTERN HERE?: Of the 33 players on the 2001 roster, 25 have junior college playing experience, and nine played at Central Alabama Community College, not coincidentally the former employer of UAB Head Coach Larry Giangrosso...many of those from CACC played at least one season for Giangrosso and virtually all were recruited during his tenure there.
COACH GINO: Larry Giangrosso, a 1975 graduate of UAB, is in his second season as the Blazer skipper, and has a 30-34 (.469) mark. "Coach Gino" came to UAB from Central Alabama Community College (Alexander City, Ala.) where he posted a 320-183-1 (.636) mark in nine seasons (1990-99). CACC was the 1998 Alabama Junior & Community College Conference Division I champions. Prior to his time at CACC, he was the head coach at W.A. Berry High School in suburban Birmingham, where he was 254-115 (.688) in 11 seasons (1979-89). The Bucs took the 1981 AHSAA championship and were five-time regional champions.
THE STAFF: Giangrosso is assisted by Lee Hall (Auburn-Montgomery, 1990), who played for (Berry HS) and coached with (CACC) Giangrosso andFrank Walton (UAB, 1990), who played (1983-84) and coached previously (1992-99) at UAB. Tim Harradine, who served as a team manager during the 2000 season, is the volunteer assistant coach.
CURRENT STREAKS: Three UAB players, DH/first baseman Chris George, shortstop Mark Garner, and outfielder Cory Acklus, have hit safely in all four games to date.
A LONG ONE: Saturday's 8-7 loss to Southern Illinois in 15 innings was the second-longest game in UAB baseball history, surpassed only by a 19-inning affair vs. South Alabama in Mobile (5/16/81). The game was the longest home game ever for UAB and the longest ever at Young Memorial Field (the previous mark for both was 14 innings, both against South Alabama, at Rickwood Field in 1981 and at Young Memorial Field in 1990). Ironically, all of those games (including this year's SIU marathon) were one-run losses for the Blazers.
INJURY REPORT: Three UAB players are currently unavailable because of injury. Left-handed pitcher Michael Stallings (7-9 in 2000, 5.84 ERA) will miss the entire season after undergoing shoulder surgery (rotator cuff), as will infielder Matt Womble (a newcomer in 2001), who also had shoulder surgery. Fifth-year senior right-handed pitcher Lee Jolly's (4-3, 4.48 ERA in 2000) status is uncertain for the 2001 season, he has an elbow injury in his pitching arm and a decision has not been made about when he might return to the lineup.
FATHER AND SON CONNECTION(s): Blazer head coach Larry Giangrosso and redshirt freshman catcher Pete Giangrosso are indeed father and son. The Giangrosso are not, however, the first father and son coach-player duo in UAB athletic history, the first was Gene and Murry Bartow. Murry, now the head men's basketball coach at UAB, played for his legendary dad on Blazer basketball teams from 1980-85 (he was also a member of the UAB Golf team). Murry Bartow graduated from Birmingham's W.A. Berry High School in 1980, and one of his coaches and teachers there was....Larry Giangrosso.
THE NEW WALL: One major cosmetic change has been made at UAB's Young Memorial Field for the 2001 season. A new wood outfield fence -- painted Blazer Green -- was completed just before the beginning of the season, replacing the chain-link fencing that had enclosed the field since 1984. The ballpark now has slightly larger dimensions, going 330 feet down the lines, 370 feet to the left center power alley, 400 feet to dead center field, and 360 feet to the right center power alley. In addition, the large "hitter's eye" in center field (also now green) has been fused with the fence (it was previously behind the outfield fence and a ball striking it was considered a home run) and is now in play.
GARNER SHINES: Shortstop Mark Garner has reached base 10 times in 16 plate appearances thus far in 2001, and leads UAB with a .625 on-base percentage (it's no surprise that he is tied for the team lead with five runs scored in the first four games)...Garner also has the best batting average of any of the every-day players (.455) and is tied for the team lead in RBIs with six...he also hit a dramatic two-out home run in the bottom of the 12th inning in the Feb. 17 game vs. Southern Illinois to tie the game at 7-7 and keep the Blazers alive.
MR. JONES: Sophomore outfielder Mitch Jones (a Freshman All-America in 2000) is batting .368 with one home run and four RBIs through four games...Jones hit .467 in the Southern Illinois series (all of his hits, and RBIs and four of his five runs scored came in those three games)...he also leads the team in stolen bases at a perfect 3-3.
BIG FELLA: At 6-4 and close to 280 pounds, junior designated hitter/first baseman Chris George stands out just about anywhere, especially on the baseball field...George is hitting .333 through four games with two doubles (he is amazingly mobile) and is tied for the team lead with six RBIs.
ON DECK: Following the games at Belmont (Feb. 20) and Vanderbilt (Feb. 21), it's back to Young Memorial Field for a 12-game home stand, beginning with a three-game series vs. Lipscomb College
UAB BLAZER BASEBALL
All-time record (1978- ) 629-533-1 (.541)
Home (inc. Rickwood Field) 392-236-1 (.624)
Young Memorial Field (1984- ) 306-182-1 (.627)
Road/Neutral Sites 238-297 (.445)
Current Overall Streak L2
Current Home Streak L2
Current Road Streak W1
Current Neutral Site Streak L1
UAB vs. Belmont
Overall (since 1980) 3-0
Young Field: 2-0
Hoover Met: 0-0
Rickwood Field 0-0
Current Streak: W3
Current Streak: W1
2000 Series: 1-0
UAB vs. Vanderbilt
Overall (since 1980) 11-18
Young Field: 7-6
Hoover Met: 0-0
Rickwood Field 1-3
Current Streak: W1
Current Streak: W1
2000 Series: 1-1