Birmingham, AL (WIAT) – The UAB baseball team put the tying and go-ahead run on base in the ninth, but Drew Reynolds escaped the late Blazer rally, giving East Carolina a 5-4 victory in game one of a three-game series on Friday night at Young Memorial Field.
UAB (16-22, 3-7 C-USA) received a two-hit game from Ivan De Jesus and John Frost extended his hit streak to 18 games with a RBI double in the fifth.
Pirate starter Jeff Hoffman (4-4) went the first eight innings for East Carolina (18-20, 4-6 C-USA) in the victory. The righty allowed three runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts, while first baseman Chase McDonald went 3-for-4 with three RBI at the plate.
“We made a good run against a really good arm in Jeff Hoffman tonight,” head coach Brian Shoop said. “The little things were just going the wrong way for us tonight.”
ECU came out the gate swinging, scoring two runs in the top of the first against UAB starter Tanner Bryant (2-5). Zach Houchins roped a two-out double to score the first run of the day for the Pirates, and would later score on a RBI single off the bat of McDonald.
It appeared the Blazers would respond in their first time to the plate, but Hoffman worked around a pair of singles to keep ECU’s early lead intact.
In the third, ECU pushed across two more runs when McDonald roped a two-run two-bagger to left to put the Blazers in a 4-0 hole.
UAB was able to put something together in the bottom of the fourth as De Jesus and Harry Clark reached with one out on a walk and single. Both players moved up 90 feet on a ground out to first by Tyler Mims, before Hoffman uncorked a wild pitch sending De Jesus home with the first UAB run. Jeff Schalk then laced a run-scoring single to right to cut the deficit in half, 4-2.
An inning later in the fifth, Frost kept his hitting streak alive, rocketing a RBI double to right-center scoring Ryan Prinzing, pulling the Blazers within a run.
The Pirates manufactured an insurance run in the sixth, which proved to be the difference in the game. McDonald started off the frame with single and moved to second as Jay Cannon drew a walk. Dylan Brown sacrificed both runners into scoring position before Travis Watkins hit a sac fly to center to bring home McDonald with ECU’s fifth run of the night.
UAB made things interesting in the last of the ninth, nearly forcing extra innings. Drew Reynolds toed the rubber for the Pirates in what proved to be the last inning, earning his seventh save of the season. He started off the frame walking Harry Clark, who was lifted for pinch runner Adam Lau. After a strikeout, Jeff Schalk was plunked. Next up was Bryant, who after pitching 6.2 innings, stayed in the game and played shortstop. Bryant roped a RBI single to left, pulling the Blazers within one. However, Reynolds geared up and posted a strikeout and ground out to end the game.
Bryant, who suffered the loss, allowing five runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts. Jacob German fired the final 2.1 innings, walking one and striking out two without allowing a hit.
Both teams will meet again on Saturday for game two of the weekend, with first pitch set for 2 p.m. CT.
(Courtesy: UAB Athletics)