Tigers Holds Off Blazers For 6-5 Win At C-USA Tournament

Tigers Holds Off Blazers For 6-5 Win At C-USA Tournament

Rice up next for Memphis.
-University of Memphis

HOUSTON – Memphis (35-23) raced to a 4-0 lead but had to hold off UAB (22-36) 6-5 after the Blazers scored four runs over the sixth to eighth innings in game two of the Conference USA Tournament at Reckling Park for the Tigers.

With the win, Memphis has assured itself of a chance to play for a spot in the Conference USA Championship game on Sunday. The Tigers face No. 1 seed Rice on Saturday at 11 a.m. With a win, Memphis will play in the C-USA Championship game for the second-straight season.

Memphis wasted little time in jumping out to a 4-0 advantage on UAB. A fielding error allowed Ethan Gross to reach before Carter White singled and Tucker Tubbs walked to load the bases with one out. A wild pitch scored Gross, but a double by Drew Griffin broke the game open as two runs score for the Tigers 3-0 lead. Bryce Beeler laced a two-out single to leftfield and Griffin scored to make it 4-0 before the Tigers were caught in a run down to end the frame.

UAB started a rally in the second as the Blazers loaded the bases with one out. Memphis starter Michael Wills induced the comebacker to the mound to start the 1-2-3 double play to end the inning. UAB loaded the bags once again in the third, this time with two outs, but Wills used a called third strike to strand three on the bases. The Tigers removed Wills from the game after three innings in which he allowed no runs on four hits while striking out and walking two.

The Blazers got on the board in the fourth, but it took a Tiger error to help the cause. Jacob German led off the inning with a ground ball to short, but the ball was misplayed resulting in the error. With one out, reliever Heith Hatfield hit Adam Lau with a pitch to put two on with one out. Hatfield struck out his second of the frame, but Ryan Prinzing singled to leftfield and German came around to score, unearned.

The Tigers got the run back in the fifth off the bat of Tucker Tubbs. The sophomore first baseman slugged a two-out home run over the leftfield fence for his fourth home run of the season. Griffin followed the home run with a single up the middle and he ended up on third after stealing second and error allowed him to advance to third. Memphis left Griffin standing on third, but the Tigers led 5-1 going to the bottom of the fifth.

Memphis tacked on another two-out run in the sixth to extend the lead to 6-1. Beeler collected his second hit of the afternoon and Willis provided a two-out RBI single to plate Beeler. UAB got its second tally of the game in the bottom of the inning with a sacrifice fly by John Frost.

The Blazers continued to chip away in the seventh adding a pair of runs, but freshman reliever Colin Lee helped the Tigers get out of a bases loaded jam. Two walks and a single set up a sacrifice fly for Tyler Hamby and the fourth walk of the inning loaded the bases once more. The Tigers called on Lee after the walk and he struck out Jeff Schalk for the second out. Prinzing singled through the right side to cut the lead to 6-4, but Lee came back to force a fly out to strand the bases full.
The fierce comeback continued in the eighth as the Tigers hit a batter with one out, the ninth free pass given to UAB on the game. Memphis walked five, hit three batters and committed one error. A double off the leftfield wall by Griffin Gum cut the Memphis lead to 6-5, but a fantastic snag on a liner to shortstop was grabbed to end the inning with the potential tying run standing on second.

Closer Jonathan Van Eaton saw action for the second-straight day as he closed out the win for the Tigers. He faced four batters with the potential tying run moving to second with two outs in the frame. Van Eaton struck out two in the ninth, including the final batter of the game, to secure his 13th save of the season.

Hatfield (4-2) picked up the win as he pitched three innings and allowed two runs, one earned, on three hits. UAB starter Turner Lee took the loss as he allowed four runs, two earned, on four hits in two innings.

Griffin and White led the Tigers with three hits each, but UAB edged the U of M 12-11 in the hit column. Griffin had two RBI to lead the team while Willis, Tubbs and Beeler each had one RBI.

Memphis takes on Rice at 11 a.m . on Saturday in the final of three pool play games at the Conference USA Tournament. The Tigers send C-USA Pitcher of the Year Erik Schoenrock to the mound in the start.
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