BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A pitching duel took place this evening at Regions Field, as the University of Tennessee at Martin matched Conference USA member UAB pitch-for-pitch through seven innings before the Blazers pulled away for a 5-0 win.
Skyhawk starting pitcher Taylor Cox posted one of the best starts of his career tonight, conceding just one unearned run on only six hits and zero walks over a career-high seven innings. However, despite his efforts, he was saddled with the loss after UAB broke a scoreless tie with a run in the bottom of the sixth. Chris Ross took over in the bottom of the eighth, allowing four runs in the final frame.
Offensively, UT Martin struggled tonight, mustering just one hit and a walk. Senior third baseman Zack Malone broke up UAB’s no-hit bid with a two-out single in the bottom of the eighth while Taylor Douglas drew a walk and stole a base in the fourth inning.
UAB’s Chase Mallard earned the mound victory with 13 strikeouts over seven no-hit innings. Thomas Lowery picked up the save with two scoreless innings for the Blazers while Chase Davis’ two runs scored, Ryan Prinzing’s two RBI’s and Griffin Gum’s three hits paced the offense.
Cox retired the side in order in the first inning and pitched around trouble in the second inning. After the first two batters reached base, Cox retired the next three batters to keep the shutout intact.
Malone would reach on an error with one out in the top of the third but could not advance into scoring position. Cox convincingly sat the Blazers down in order in the third, not allowing the ball out of the infield.
Douglas’ five-pitch walk and stolen base with one out in the fourth gave the Skyhawks their first chance to get on the scoreboard but Mallard tallied the next two outs on just six pitches.
Two more UAB batters reached base in the bottom of the fourth but Cox escaped the potential jam, inducing an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
After the Blazers came up with a one-out single in the fifth, Cox once again used his ground ball magic to produce another 6-4-3 double play to keep the score at 0-0.
UAB scratched out an unearned run in the sixth. After Davis led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a passed ball, Matthew Furuto reached on a bunt single to put baserunners on the corners with no outs. For the third straight inning, Cox then generated another double play, clearing the bases but giving the Blazers a 1-0 advantage.
Cox’s final inning was one of his best, as he needed just 10 pitches to retire the side in order.
After UAB made a pitching change, Malone ripped an 0-1 pitch up the middle for the Skyhawks’ first hit with two outs in the eighth. However, he was left stranded on a called third strike to end the inning.
The Blazers then tacked on four runs in the bottom of the eighth to make the score 5-0. Down to its final three outs, UT Martin could not generate a rally in the top of the ninth.
These two teams return to the diamond on Saturday, Feb. 15. First pitch time is set for 1 p.m. from Regions Field.