TUSCALOOSA, AL – UAB scored five runs in the fourth inning, highlighted by Jonathan Merritt's three-run double, en route to an 11-4 win over No. 19 Alabama at Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Tuesday night.
UAB improved to 18-9 overall with the win and has won 11 of its last 13 games. The Blazers also completed their first series sweep over Alabama since 2001. The Crimson Tide fell to 19-9 with the loss.
The Blazers took a 3-1 lead in the third inning, aided by a pair of walks and throwing error by starting pitcher Jason Townsend. UAB broke the game open in the fourth, scoring five runs on four hits off Townsend and freshman right-hander Trey Pilkington. Merritt's three-run double gave the Blazers a 7-1 lead and he later scored on John Frost's ground out to put UAB in front 8-1.
Alabama took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning and had the bases loaded with no outs, but missed a chance for a big inning when junior DH Brett Whitaker struck out and senior third baseman Jake Smith hit into an inning-ending double play.
"First of all, UAB is a good club and they and they are playing really well right now," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "I just told Brian (Shoop) that they've got a really good chance. They have some guys that are swinging the bats real well and doing some good things.
"I knew tonight would be real tough, and that we were going to have to play well, and we didn't. We didn't pitch well and they jumped on us in a hurry, and we had a missed opportunity in the first inning with the bases loaded. The trend kind of continued tonight. We left some guys on base, we had two or three chances to drive in some runs and we just can't deliver the hit right now. "
Townsend (1-1) took the loss after he allowed six runs and seven hits in 3 1/3 innings in his first career start.
UAB starter Shay Crawford (1-2) held the Tide to one run on two hits in five innings for his first win of the season.
The Crimson Tide scored three more runs in the sixth inning to close the gap to 8-4, but never got any closer. Senior first baseman Clay Jones, who went 4-for-4 with an RBI, stroked a leadoff double to left field. Smith drew a one-out walk and junior right fielder David Kindred, who made his first career start, doubled over the head of UAB center fielder Jamal Austin to knock in Jones and Smith. Kindred scored the final run on an error by Merritt to pull the Tide to within 8-4.
UAB got a run back in the seventh on Harry Clark's one-out single to up the lead to 9-4.
Alabama loaded the bases with one out in the seventh but failed to score when Smith hit into another inning-ending double play. He lined out to right fielder Ryan Ussery for the second out and then Ussery threw out junior Ross Wilson at home plate to end the inning.
The Crimson Tide stranded 12 base runners in the loss and hit into a season-high four double plays.
Andrew Manning's two-run home run in the ninth inning extended the lead to 11-4.
Alabama will play its next four games on the road, beginning with Wednesday's game at Jacksonville State. First pitch from Rudy Abbott Field is set for 6:30 p.m. (CDT). The Crimson Tide plays at Kentucky this weekend in a three-game SEC series.
*Senior first baseman Clay Jones went 4-for-4 with a walk and one RBI in the loss to UAB. The four hits tied his career high set previously against Troy on April 7, 2009 and Mississippi Valley State on April 14, 2009.
*Junior David Kindred made his first career start for the Crimson Tide on Tuesday against UAB. As the starting right fielder, Kindred went 2-for-4 with one double and two RBI on Tuesday.
*Freshman left-hander Adam Windsor threw two scoreless innings out of the bullpen on Tuesday. He allowed two hits and struck out one batter. He was the only one of the five pitchers in the game that did not allow a run.
*Sophomore Jon Kelton made his second career start in left field on Tuesday night against UAB. Kelton's only other career start in the outfield was also in left field against Alabama A&M on March 18, 2009.
*UAB swept the season series, winning 6-4 on March 31 and 11-4 on Tuesday. It was the Blazers first series sweep over Alabama since 2001 and just the third in series history. UAB also swept a two-game series in 1990.
Alabama Post-Game Quotes
Head Coach Mitch Gaspard
"First of all, UAB is a good club and they and they are playing really well right now. I just told Brian (Shoop) that they've got a really good chance. They have some guys that are swinging the bats real well and doing some good things. I knew tonight would be real tough, and that we were going to have to play well, and we didn't. We didn't pitch well and they jumped on us in a hurry, and we had a missed opportunity in the first inning with the bases loaded. The trend kind of continued tonight. We left some guys on base, we had two or three chances to drive in some runs and we just can't deliver the hit right now.
"I just told the team that we are at a crossroads right now and we really need some leadership to step up and take charge of the team right now. That leadership comes through good play. It comes through timely hits and making key pitches. This comes after a couple weeks where we are not doing any of those things that we were doing in the first three weeks or month of the season. We're a team that is lacking a lot of confidence right now. You can see that in a lot of our at-bats and a lot of our play in general.
"As a coaching staff we have got to continue to work like a psychiatrist or a psychologist and do whatever you can to pump the mental psyche up, but there are also things within the game that we have got to do better. We've got to compete a little more offensively; we have to keep working on our approach to getting better. The same thing with the pitching. We were pitching really well early on in the year and we're starting to fade with the starters and out of the bullpen as well right now."