June 21, 2012
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ---- The UAB baseball team produced a 2012 season full of memories, featuring the Blazers first Conference USA Tournament Championship in program history and advancing to an NCAA Regional for the first time since 1991.
Here is a look back on some memorable moments from the 2012 season:
THE C-USA TOURNAMENT RUN
Game 1: UAB 15, UCF 1 (7)
UAB scored a school record 13 times in the top of the fifth inning to expand what was a 2-1 lead to 15-1 and cruise to victory over the UCF Knights.
Beyond the record setting inning, RHP Michael Busby 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.
LUCKY #13: In the fifth inning against the No. 2 seed UCF, the Blazers scored a record-setting 13 times, to claim a 10-run rule victory. The record setting top half of the fifth lasted 49 minutes, featuring 18 batters coming to the plate, 13 consecutive batters reaching base, 13 runs, seven hits (six singles), six walks, four UCF pitchers, three wild pitches, two passed balls and two errors.
The 13 runs in one inning broke the school record of 11 set against Jackson State on April 3, 1985.
Game 2: UAB 6, Tulane 3
The Blazers put the pressure on Tulane all afternoon, forcing the Green Wave into three miscues that allowed four unearned runs to cross. The Blazers scored twice in the sixth and two more in the seventh and received a stellar emergency outing from Chase Mallard.
MAGNIFICENT MALLARD: Following an injury to scheduled starter Ben Bullard, right-hander Chase Mallard was called into an emergency relief appearance. The sophomore was nothing short of spectacular, firing a career-long 6.2 innings and holding the potent Tulane offense to just three runs (two earned) off five hits. The Cullman, Ala., native tied a career-high with four strikeouts in the victory.
Game 3: East Carolina 10, UAB 3
By winning their first two games of the tournament and ECU defeating UCF, the Blazers had already secured their spot in the C-USA Championship game before taking the field with the Pirates.
UAB tied the game in the sixth on RBI singles from Patrick Palmeiro and Tyler Mims, but ECU scored a run in the eighth and six more in the ninth to earn the win.
Game 4: UAB 5, Memphis 0 – C-USA Champions
C-USA TOURNAMENT CHAMPS: The UAB baseball team captured its first C-USA Tournament Championship in program history, when the Blazers blanked Memphis, 5-0 in the finals back on May 27. UAB, the seventh-seed, had lost seven straight contests to the Tigers, before claiming the tournament crown. The tournament championship marked the first for UAB since 1994, when the Blazers were members of the Great Midwest Conference.
MISSISSIPPI MEN TAME TIGERS: Seniors Ryan Nance and Michael Busby, products of Brandon and Vicksburg, Miss., respectively, combined to throw the first postseason shutout in program history in the C-USA title game against Memphis.
In just his second career start, Nance, pitched a career-long 6.1 innings with six strikeouts, also a personal best, before giving way to Busby, a fellow right-hander. Busby was called upon out of the Blazer bullpen with the bases loaded and one out to face the top of the Memphis order. Busby struck out both batters he faced, including C-USA Player of the Year Jacob Wilson looking to end the threat. Busby pitched the final 2.2 innings to earn the save and give UAB the C-USA title.
SCHALK BUSTS OUT OF SLUMP: Freshman Jeff Schalk busted out of a 2-for-35 (.057 batting average) slump in the tournament finals when he rocketed a two-run blast off the foul pole in right field to give UAB a 3-0 lead. Schalk, who had only knocked in one run in the previous 14 games, finished with a career-high three RBI.
ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: Prior to 2012, only five times a UAB player had been named to the C-USA All-Tournament Team. After claiming the C-USA Tournament crown, six Blazers earned the distinct honor, including: Michael Busby (MVP), Keith DePew, John Frost, Chase Mallard, Ryan Nance and Jeff Schalk.
SIZZILING SEVENTH SEED: The Blazers made C-USA history by being not only the first No. 7 seed to advance to the tournament championship, but the first to capture the title.
Game 1: Florida State 2, UAB 1
Michael Busby fired his second complete game of the season, but the Blazer offense stranded 12 runners on base as the regional-host FSU Seminoles escaped with a one-run victory.
BUZZ SAW BUSBY: Michael Busby held the FSU lineup to just five hits in the complete game loss. Over the final four appearances of his career in Green and Gold, Busby yielded just four earned runs and 14 hits in 24.2 innings. The righty collected 14 strikeouts to six walks and held opponents to a .159 batting average against him.
In fact, the two runs scored by the Seminoles is their lowest run output in the NCAA Tournament so far. FSU is currently competing in the NCAA College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
Game 2: Mississippi State 8, UAB 1
Ryan Nance surrendered just two hits and struck out a career-high seven, however Mississippi State scored all eight runs over the middle three innings, including a five-run sixth to end the magical run for the Blazers.
NANCE STEPS UP: In Nance’s three starts, which took place over his last four appearances and were the only three of his career in 46 outings, the right-hander worked a total of 16.0 innings, allowing just five runs (three earned) off 11 hits. The senior struck out 14 and walked nine and held opponents to a .193 batting average during that stretch.
MEMORABLE MILESTONES & MOMENTS
WINNING WAYS: The Blazers finished with 32 victories, the most by a UAB team since the 1996 squad earned 33. The 32-30 record also marked the fourth consecutive winning season under head coach Brian Shoop.
BEST IN BAMA: UAB sported the best winning percentage amongst Alabama Division I baseball teams against programs within the state as well as the best home winning percentage amongst those schools. In 2012, the Blazers finished 9-3 (.750) against Alabama schools and 20-10 (.667) overall at home. UAB and Samford were the only two schools from the state to advance to the NCAA Tournament, both competing at the Tallahassee Regional.
KNOCKING OFF NATION’S BEST: On the season, UAB won four games against top-20 teams. In fact, each win came against a program that was ranked 16th or higher in one of the major polls. The first three victories versus nationally ranked teams (#16 Clemson, #14 UCF, #5 Rice) all came on the road with senior righty Dillon Napoleon earning the wins in all three contests. The fourth win over a ranked program came in the C-USA Tournament when the Blazers clipped then No. 16 UCF, 15-1.
CLAIMING THE CLOSE ONES: UAB found a way to win close games in 2012, finishing the season with a 13-5 record in one-run games along with posting a 4-1 tally in extra-inning affairs.
WALK-OFF WINS: Prior to the calendar changing to April, UAB already posted four walk-off wins. Here is a look at each fantastic finish for the Blazers:
UAB 4, Ball State 3 (2/24): Trailing 3-0 entering the bottom of the ninth, Tanner Bryant capped off a four-run frame with a bases loaded RBI single to left in the Blazers’ first home game of the season.
UAB 1, Ball State 0 – 12 innings (2/25): A day after earning an incredible comeback win, the Blazers found a way to sink the Cardinals for the second straight day. Each staff matched zero for zero on the scoreboard until Patrick Palmeiro snapped the scoreless tie by tripling in Michael Busby from first with the game-winning run.
UAB 2, Utah 1 – 11 innings (3/3): UAB loaded the bases with one out in the last of the 11th with the score knotted, 1-1. Coach Shoop rolled the dice and asked senior Keith DePew to bunt and the second baseman produced a perfect walk-off single to give the Blazers the victory.
UAB 1, Alabama 0 – 12 innings (3/27): Scoreless through 11 and-a-half-innings, John Frost gave UAB the win when he roped a single to right-center to plate Ivan De Jesus from second at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala.
NAPOLEON SHINES IN SEASON OPENER: Senior Dillon Napoleon pitched flawlessly in UAB’s season opener in a 2-1 victory at No. 16 Clemson on February 17 en route to earning C-USA Pitcher of the Week honors. The Winnetka, Ill., native held the prolific Clemson lineup to one run off four hits over a seven-inning stint on the mound. Napoleon forced Clemson to strand seven base runners, induced 15 fly outs, four ground outs, one strike out and retired the side in order in three of his seven innings of work.
BULLARD PUNCHES OUT 15: Right-hander Ben Bullard was a tough-luck loser on March 17 against Michigan at the Coastal Carolina Classic, but did make history. UAB lost the game 3-1, but Bullard tied a school record with 15 strikeouts, 14 of which were swinging. The Decatur, Ala., product’s outing tied former Blazer Jon Burgett 15 punchouts, which he recorded against Southern Miss on April 26, 2003. The 15 strikeouts also tied USM’s Andrew Pierce for the most by a C-USA pitcher in 2012. Bullard was recognized as one of six players across the country as a Collegiate Baseball Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week for his performance.
BUSBY FIRES FIRST CG SHUTOUT IN 8 YEARS: Michael Busby fired the first complete game shutout for UAB in eight years, in a 1-0 victory over Houston on April 29. Busby walked just one batter over a career-long nine-inning effort, with five strikeouts. He retired the first nine batters he faced and 13 of the first 14 Houston batters that came to the plate.
Busby’s outing was the first complete game shutout since March 7, 2004 when Jeff Brown blanked Toledo over nine innings.