Maness, Pirates burned by Blazers

Published 10:38 pm Friday, April 1, 2011

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -In a pitcher’s duel that pitted two of Conference USA’s best Friday night starters, UAB (15-10, 3-1 C-USA) got the upper hand in the opening game of the three-game series behind Dillon Napoleon’s 4-1 complete game win over East Carolina (19-6, 2-2 C-USA) at Young Memorial Field.

Dillon (3-1) was effective on the night limiting the Pirates to one run on four hits with five punch outs. The 6-foot-4 right-hander forced 14 ground outs and eight fly outs on 92 pitches for his first complete game of the year.

Maness (4-2) suffered just his fourth career loss to a C-USA opponent allowing four runs (two earned) on eight hits with six strikeouts and three walks. The senior right-hander tossed his third complete game in his last five starts, which doesn’t include his 10.0 inning no decision against Rutgers. On the night, Maness moved into sole possession of third place on ECU’s all-time strikeouts list (301), passing Brooks Jernigan (1997-99).

Through the first two frames, each team left one runner on base until UAB took a 1-0 lead in the third. Ryan Nance started in the stanza with a double down the right field line and took third on Nick Crawford’s fielder’s choice bunt before crossing home on Keith DePew’s RBI fielder’s choice to short.

The Blazers added another run in the fourth on a RBI groundout by John Frost’s. Patrick Palmeiro, the son of former Major Leaguer Rafael Palmeiro, reached on a leadoff walk then moved to third on a failed pickoff attempt at first by catcher Zach Wright and strolled home on Frost’s grounder to Jack Reinheimer at short.

In the seventh, UAB pushed across a pair of runs to take a 4-0 lead. Michael Busby drew an opening frame walk and advanced to second on a Nance sac bunt. Crawford followed with a RBI single to center that scored Busby and landed on second on a throwing error by Whitehead on the play. After DePew ground out to John Wooten at first for the second out, Jamal Austin singled home Crawford on a soft grounder to the left side of the mound capping the scoring.

The Pirates finally got on the board in the top of the ninth on Reinheimer’s sac fly. Wooten reached on a fielding error by Palmeiro at third and Wright followed with a single to left. Freshman Ben Fultz moved the runners 90 feet on a groundout to second setting up Reinheimer’s 12th RBI of the season.

Napoleon forced nine first pitch outs and held ECU to a season-low four hits, which also occurred against UVa (Feb. 25) and Liberty (Mar. 13). Whitehead extended his current hitting streak to six games with his leadoff double in the sixth, while Wright’s hit streak went to a season-high five games. Chris Gosik led the Pirates with two hits, his fourth career multi-hit game.

ECU will look to rebound from its sixth loss of the season on Saturday when it takes the field at 3 p.m. (EST). Junior Mike Wright (4-0, 2.06 ERA) will get the nod against Ryan Woolley (3-3, 2.70) in game two.