May 21, 2009
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- The UAB baseball team managed a first-inning run Thursday, but Rice starter Ryan Berry silenced the Blazer bats the rest of the way as the No. 2 seed Owls knocked UAB from the winner's bracket at the C-USA Championship with an 8-1 win at Pete Taylor Park.
Berry pitched a complete game, holding the Blazers to just two hits, both of which came in the first two innings. The right-hander retired 16 Blazers in a row at one point and finished the game with seven strikeouts.
UAB starter Kyle Roberson held his own to keep the Blazers in the contest until the late innings, but the senior right-hander took the loss after surrendering four runs on five hits in 7.0 innings.
"Ryan Berry was just too good," UAB head coach Brian Shoop said. "He's been too good against everybody, and he was too good today. Kyle almost matched him. He was super."
With the loss, the sixth-seeded Blazers fall to 31-25 on the season and drop into an elimination game Friday at 9 a.m. (CT) against No. 3 seed Houston. The game was originally scheduled for a 3 p.m. start, but Conference USA has adjusted the Friday schedule because of the forecast for inclement weather on Saturday.
If UAB defeats Houston, the Blazers would move on to meet Rice (37-15) again later in the day. That game is currently scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday.
Fans can follow Friday's action live through All-Access streaming video at uabsports.com. Each tournament game is available on a pay-per-view basis for a one-time payment of $7.95, while current annual subscribers to Blazer All-Access can watch all of UAB's C-USA tournament games for FREE as part of their annual package.
Internet radio broadcasts courtesy of the Blazers ISP Sports Network will also be available through the website for free.
In Thursday's game, UAB found the scoreboard against Berry in the top of the first inning. Jonathan Merritt tripled and came home on an RBI groundout from Brint Hardy to give the Blazers the game's first lead.
UAB had a chance to do more damage in the second inning when the Blazers loaded the bases with one out on a Cody McMurry single, a walk and a Rice error. But Berry induced a ground-ball double play to get out of the jam, and the Blazers had only two more base runners the rest of the way.
Rice evened the score with a third-inning run on a Rick Hague sacrifice fly, and the Owls scored twice in the fifth to take the lead. After Roberson retired the first two batters of the fifth, Brock Holt doubled and Hague walked, setting the stage for a two-RBI double from Diego Seastrunk to put the Owls on top 3-1.
The Owls eventually broke open the game with five runs in the eighth inning, highlighted by RBI singles from Michael Fuda, Steven Sultzbaugh, Craig Manuel and Brock Holt. UAB walked two batters, committed two errors and had a wild pitch in the inning.
"Until the eighth, I thought it was a heck of a game," Shoop said. "In the eighth, I think we gave up seven freebies, and you just can't give extra outs to an offensive team like Rice. But it came down to Ryan Berry just being too good."
Seastrunk led Rice with three RBI in the game, while Craig Manuel went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored.
With the win, Rice evened the season series between the teams at two games apiece. The series between the Blazers and Houston is also tied 2-2 after UAB defeated the Cougars Wednesday in the tournament opener.