Baseball Notes For Houston Series (Apr. 6-8)

UAB (17-12, 3-6) at Houston (16-18, 8-1)
Houston, Texas/Cougar Field
Fri. 4/6 UAB at Houston (Cougar Field/7pm)
Sat. 4/7 UAB at Houston (Cougar Field/2 pm)
Sun. 4/8 UAB at Houston (Cougar Field/1 pm)

INTERNET BROADCAST: The games can be heard via the internet at Follow the prompts to that day's Houston-UAB game to hear the broadcast of the game.

ABOUT THE BLAZERS: UAB enters the Samford game with a 17-12 overall record, 3-6 in Conference USA play. The Blazers opened the week Tuesday night with a 4-2 victory at Mississippi State. The victory snapped a two-game losing streak for UAB. UAB then endured its seventh rainout of the season Wednesday as wet grounds forced postponement of its game at Samford. That game will be made up but no rescheduled date has been established as of yet.

BUSES, TRUCK STOPS AND FAST FOOD: The Blazers are currently on a four-game road swing that began Tuesday at Mississippi State and are in the midst of playing nine of 10 away from home. In the month of April, UAB is slated to play 12 of 17 games away from Young Memorial Field.

UAB VERSUS HOUSTON: The Blazers travel west to face Conference USA leader Houston (16-18, 8-1) this weekend. The Blazers trail in the series 9-3 and dropped the only meeting between the two schools last season 16-3 in Birmingham. The other two games were cancelled due to rain. UAB was swept in its last series at Houston in 1999 (9-1, 4-2, 5-4) and took two of the school's first three meetings at UH in 1997.

LAST TIME OUT: Christian Reimers drove in three runs on a pair of hits to lead the Blazers to a 4-2 baseball victory over Mississippi State Tuesday night. Andre Parks pitched five-plus innings to improve to 2-0 on the season. Parks allowed one unearned run on four hits with seven walks and four strikeouts. The Blazers, down 1-0, got two runs in both the fifth and sixth innings to secure the win. Reimers tied the score in the fifth with a RBI single and then added a two-run one-base knock one inning later. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak to the Bulldogs and a four-game skid in Starkville.

CAN YOU BELIEVE IT RAINED AGAIN: The Blazers had their eighth scheduled game rained out this season Wednesday when their Samford tilt was washed out. UAB has made up four of the games washed away, and is scheduled to make up two more at this point. UAB plays at Alabama, originally scheduled Mar. 14, on Apr. 10 and will play Samford later this season although a date has not been set yet.

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.

UAB STARTING PITCHING AGAINST HOUSTON: The Blazers will throw the trio of Joe Yarbrough (LHP, Jr., 4-1, 2.52 ERA), Joe McRae (RHP, Sr., 1-1, 4.22 ERA) and Andre Parks (RHP, Jr., 2-0, 1.77 ERA) in that order this weekend against the Cougars.

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 45-44 (.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.

A HITTING STREAK TO NOTE: Chris George has the best current hitting streak on the club at five games, after getting three hits at Mississippi State...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. Reliever Kevin Brannon (a newcomer in 2001) has suffered some arm problems and could be lost for the year as well. 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.

ISBELL HAS GREAT WEEK: Senior Brandon Isbell had a solid week batting 7-for-13 (.583) with a pair of doubles, a home run and six RBI. His big game came Friday against Charlotte with a four-hit performance which included his first homer of the year -- a three-run shot --highlighting a seven-run third inning in a Blazer win. He has hit safely in his last four games, six of his last seven and 9 of the last 11.

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 318-187-1 (.629) at Young Memorial Field, and are 15-7 in 2001. 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 for 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 No. 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 the four game series vs. EIU, he hit .600 (9-15) with five RBI (one double, one homer) the Charlotte series he batted .500 (6-12) with five RBI and over the last four games is hitting .438 (7-16)...George currently leads the team in RBI (26), and on top in doubles (8), while ranking first in hits (37) and home runs (3)...he has the second highest batting average among the every-day players (.325)...he is also perfect in 247 chances at first base (237 putouts, 10 assists).

GARNERing PRAISE: Mark Garner has the highest batting average among the Blazers' every-day players (.354), and also leads the team with a .453 on-base percentage...he is one of three Blazers to have started every game this season (28) and is second on the team with 21RBI and tied for first in hits (34) ...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.

SCORING EARLY: UAB has outscored its opponents 26-4 this season in the opening frame. The Blazers are 9-2 when they plate a run in the first inning.

ON DECK: The Blazers play a pair of midweek games against Southeastern Conference and in-state foe Alabama. UAB is slated to play the Crimson Tide Tuesday in a makeup of a March rainout to complete a five-game road swing and then play host to UA Wednesday at Young Memorial Field. The second contest against the Tide will be televised by Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast. Both games next week are slated for 7 p.m.