Games 26-28: Charlotte (11-12, 3-3) at UAB (15-10, 2-4)
Fri. 3/30 UAB vs. Charlotte (Yooung Memorial Field/7pm)
Sat. 3/31 UAB vs. Charlotte (Young Memorial Field/2 pm)
Sun. 4/1 UAB vs. Charlotte (Young Memorial Field/1 pm)
ABOUT THE BLAZERS: UAB enters the weekend with a 15-10 overall record, 2-4 in Conference USA play...the Blazers snapped a season-high four-game losing streak Tuesday when they defeated Jacksonville State 5-1...the Blazers complete their current four-game homestand with C-USA foe Charlotte this weekend.
BUSES, TRUCK STOPS AND FAST FOOD: After this weekend, the Blazers will have to pack their bags as they play 10 of their next 11 games on the road...in the month of April UAB will play 13 of 18 games away from home.
UAB AGAINST CHARLOTTE: UAB holds a 17-12 advantage over Charlotte in the baseball series between the two schools... the Blazers took one of three contests in Charlotte last season, losing the first two games (6-2, 9-1) before winning the finale 11-4. The Blazers have had their troubles with the 49ers here, winning just five of 11 games against their North Carolina foe... UAB is 2-4 against Charlotte at Young Memorial Field.
LAST TIME OUT: The Blazers got a pair of RBI from Christian Reimers and Mark Garner to lead in a 5-1 victory over Jacksonville State Tuesday. The win was the third straight for UAB against the Gamecocks.
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.
OPENING UP AT HOME: The 2001 Blazers played 18 of their first 20 games in the friendly confines of Young Memorial Field.
DO WE SEE A PATTERN HERE?: Of the 33 players on the 2001 roster, 25 have junior college playing experience, and ten played at Central Alabama Community College, not coincidentally the former employer of UAB Head Coach Larry Giangrosso and assistant coach Lee Hall...many of those from CACC played at least one season for Giangrosso and virtually all were recruited during his tenure there. There was almost an 11th member of that group, sophomore outfielder Mitch Jones originally signed to played at CACC in the spring of 2000, but wound up at UAB when Coach Gino took the Blazer head coach position that summer.
COACH GINO: Larry Giangrosso, a 1975 graduate of UAB, is now in his second season as the Blazer skipper, and has a 43-42 (.506) 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 (AUM '90), who played for (Berry HS) and coached with (CACC) Giangrosso and Frank Walton (UAB '90), who played (1983-84) and coached previously (1992-99) at UAB. Tim Harradine (UAB '01), who served as a team manager during the 2000 season, is the volunteer assistant coach.
UAB'S ROTATION FOR THE CHARLOTTE SERIES: The Blazers are expected to throw junior lefthander Joe Yarbrough (3-1, 2.73 ERA) in the opener Friday, along with junior righthander Rob Caputo (1-2, 5.49 ERA) Saturday and junior righthander Ross Dobbins (3-2, 5.29 ERA) in the finale.
A HITTING STREAK TO NOTE: Brandon Holmes and Mark Garner each have the longest hitting streak on the club at three games...the longest of the season was 10 games by Christian Reimers...the UAB record (for a season) is 23 games (Doug Gann, 3/9-4/21/91).
A LONG ONE: The 8-7 loss to Southern Illinois in 15 innings (2/17/01) 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.
WE LIKE TENNESSEE: UAB played its ninth game against a team from the state of Tennessee last week when they met Middle Tennessee. The Blazers recently finished an eight-game stretch in which all games were played against teams from the state of Tennessee (Tennessee Tech-2, Lipscomb-3, Vanderbilt-2, Belmont). This season the Blazers have compiled a 6-3 record against teams from the Volunteer state.
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 (4-3, 4.48 ERA in 2000) has been bothered by an elbow injury in his pitching arm but he returned to action for the first time this season Tuesday by throwing 1 2/3 innings against Jacksonville State in relief.
FATHER AND SON CONNECTION(s): Blazer head coach Larry Giangrosso and redshirt freshman catcher Pete Giangrosso are indeed father and son. The Giangrossos 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 FRIENDLY CONFINES: Young Memorial Field has been the primary home of Blazer Baseball since the 1984 season. The stadium is named for the late Dr. Jerry D. Young (1931-83), who, as a Vice President at UAB in the late 1970s, was a major force in the establishment of an intercollegiate athletic program at UAB. In 17+-seasons, the Blazers are 317-185-1 (.630) at Young Memorial Field, and are 14-5 in 2001.
NO. 500: The March 16 game versus Saint Louis marked the 500th played at Young Memorial Field since the field's opening during the 1984 season.
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.
BIG FELLA: At 6-4, 278 pounds, junior first baseman Chris George stands out pretty much anywhere he goes, the transfer from Itawamba (Miss.) CC has made a huge impact on the Blazers this season....George had a game-winner with a two-run double in the bottom of the eighth inning as UAB came back to defeat #20 Southern Miss 3-2 in a non-conference meeting (Mar. 7)...he also hit a three-run homer in the Mar. 9 game vs. Eastern Illinois...in the four game series vs. EIU, he hit .600 (9-15) with five RBI (one double, one homer)...George currently leads the team in RBI (21), and tied for the top in doubles (6), while ranking tied for first in hits (29) and has the third highest batting average among the every-day players (.296)...he is also perfect in 216 chances at first base (207 putouts, 9 assists).
GARNERing PRAISE: Mark Garner has the highest batting average among the Blazers' every-day players (.367), and also leads the team with a .481 on-base percentage...he is one of three Blazers to have started every game this season (25) and is second on the team with 18 RBI and first in hits (29) ...Garner 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.
JONES MOVED FROM LEADOFF: Sophomore Mitch Jones hit in the first spot of the UAB batting order over the first 22 games this season, but was moved from that position over the last three games...Christian Reimers assumed that role for a game before Eric Lyon took over that spot for the last two games.
MORE ON JONES: Mitch Jones (a Freshman All-America in 2000) currently is hitting .250 with two doubles, two home runs and seven RBI...Jones leads UAB in runs scored (18) and walks (16) and is tied for fifth on the team with 21 hits...he has a .371 on-base percentage...Jones also leads the team in stolen bases with 14 on 16 attempts.
ON DECK: Next week, UAB returns to the road to play five straight games. The week begins with a date at Mississippi State Tuesday (6:30 p.m.), followed by a trip to crosstown rival Samford Wednesday (6 p.m.) and then a trip to Houston for a three-game C-USA series.