Blazers Top Bulldogs 5-3
STARKVILLE, Miss. – A key double play followed by a two-run fifth inning lifted UAB to a 5-3 victory over Mississippi State on Tuesday evening. The Bulldogs entered the bottom of the seventh inning trailing 5-1 and brought the tying run to the plate, but could not even the score.
The Blazers’ Hayley Davis tallied two doubles and Danii Fernandez drove in the game-winning run with a fifth-inning double to left field. Bulldog freshman Caroline Seitz drove in all three runs, including a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Despite the loss, the Bulldogs still own the best 21-game record in program history at 19-2. The 2006 squad had the previous best start with an 18-3 record. Mississippi State has also allowed the fewest runs through 21 games in program history at 17. The 2006 group held the previous best with 26 runs.
Senior Alison Owen (8-2) suffered the loss for Mississippi State, surrendering three runs on four hits and a season-high two walks in four-and-a-third innings. She fanned five to move into a tie for third on the Mississippi State career strikeout list with 341, despite playing just a season-and-a-third with the Bulldogs. Freshman Alexis Silkwood threw the final two-and-two-thirds frames, yielding two runs on four hits and two strikeouts with one walk. Leigh Streetman (6-5) went the distance for UAB, scattering five hits and four walks. She fanned seven and allowed the three runs.
In the first inning, both teams had a base runner as UAB’s Heather Pearson walked and MSU’s Julia Echols singled, but neither moved past first base.
The Blazers (7-10) took a 1-0 advantage in the second inning with a Davis run-scoring double. Amy Dennis led off with a walk and scored on Davis’ hit to left center. Owen bounced back with consecutive strikeouts to end the threat.
MSU evened the score in the bottom of the third at 1-1. Sophomore Loryn Nichols led off the inning with a single to left and advanced to second on a groundout. After another groundout, Seitz hit her team-leading seventh double of the year, this one to right center, to plate Nichols. Streetman walked senior Logan Foulks to put runners on first and second, but Streetman avoided further damage with a groundout.
The Bulldogs had a chance to take the lead in the bottom of the fourth, but could not convert. Freshman Mackenzie Toler led off with a double to left center before junior Ashley Phillips was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game. After a strikeout, Nichols followed with a ground ball to shortstop Caitlin Attfield, who could not field it cleanly, filling the bases. Senior Heidi Shape hit the ball off the end of her bat and back to Streetman, who threw to catcher Ashley Johnson for the force at home. Johnson threw to first to complete the inning-ending double play.
UAB converted on its scoring chance in the top of the fifth and took a 3-1 advantage. Davis hit her second double of the contest to open the frame and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. Fernandez delivered the run with a double to left center that drove in Davis. A wild pitch moved Fernandez to third and she scored on an Attfield single up the middle, giving UAB a 3-1 lead. Silkwood entered and walked Kristen McGrath, but struck out Mary Warren to end the threat.
UAB added its final runs in the top of the seventh for a 5-1 edge. Fernandez reached on an error and Attfield followed with a double to move Fernandez to third base with no outs. Pearson followed with a bloop double to left that plated Fernandez for a 4-1 advantage. A McGrath single to left drove in Attfield for a four-run cushion. After a fielder’s choice, UAB attempted a suicide squeeze, but Silkwood fielded and flipped to freshman catcher Amanda Ivy, who put the tag on Pearson for the second out. A foul out closed the inning.
Mississippi State rallied with two runs in the bottom of the seventh, but Streetman avoided giving up the tying run. With one out, Shape walked. After a foul out, Seitz deposited the ball over the wall in left center to make it a two-run deficit. Foulks followed with a walk, but Streetman ended the contest with a groundout.
The Bulldogs get back on the diamond this weekend with the beginning of Southeastern Conference action. Kentucky heads to Starkville for a three-game series. Friday’s opener begins at 6 p.m. CT while the Saturday game is set for 3 p.m. and the series finale Sunday is at 1 p.m.
- The Blazers became the first squad to score a run in the second and fifth innings against Mississippi State this year.
- Mississippi State’s 17 runs allowed are the fewest through the first 21 games of a season in program history. The 2006 staff owned the previous mark with 26 runs allowed.
- The Blazers’ five runs are the most allowed by Mississippi State this season.
- The Bulldogs have trailed for just 11.1 innings all season.
- The pitching staff has allowed just 64 hits in 21 games, good for an average of 2.8 hits a contest. Last season, Mississippi State allowed opponents to average 5.1 hits a game.
- Junior Julia Echols has hit a team-best .379 in her last nine games (11-for-29) with a squad-high five runs scored.
- Freshman Caroline Seitz has driven in at least a run in four-straight games.
- Seitz has accounted for seven of MSU’s last 14 runs (50.0 percent).
- Junior Ashley Phillips was hit by a pitch in the second and fourth innings. She has been hit by five pitches in the last six games.
- Phillips drew a walk in the sixth and has reached base in six of her last nine plate appearances.
- Sophomore Loryn Nichols is hitting a team-best .417 (five-for-12) in her last six games.