UAB downs Memphis, wins C-USA
Nance helps Blazers punch second NCAA tournament ticket
PEARL, Miss. -- UAB received outstanding pitching from seniors Ryan Nance and Michael Busby, while Jeff Schalk hit a two-run homer to give the Blazers their first Conference USA Championship in program history, defeating Memphis, 5-0 on Sunday afternoon. The Green and Gold will make just their second NCAA regional appearance, the other taking place in 1991.
The Blazers, the No. 7 seed, are the lowest-seeded team to win the C-USA title.
Ryan Nance (4-3) put forth the most impressive outing of his career as a Blazer to earn the victory. In just his second career start, the closer turned starter went 6.1 innings, giving up only five hits along with a career-high six punchouts to help UAB improve to 32-28 on the season.
The Blazers scored the first run on an errant pickoff throw from Memphis’ Chase Joiner (4-5) in the seventh, allowing Ryan Ussery to race home and break a scoreless tie. Later in the frame, freshman Jeff Schalk stepped up, in the midst of a 2-for-35 slump and launched a two-run homer to take a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh.
During the next half inning, the fifth-seeded Tigers (31-28) attempted to claw their way back in the game loading the bases with one out, ending the day for Nance.
Head coach Brian Shoop called on right-hander Michael Busby, who was named the C-USA Tournament MVP. Busby took the ball from Shoop and recorded back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning and escape the jam.
The Blazers tacked on two runs in the eighth, thanks to run scoring hits from Keith DePew and Schalk.
Busby closed out the game to earn his first save. The senior pitched the final 2.2 innings, allowing just one hit, one walk and the two pivotal strikeouts in the seventh, securing UAB’s fourth shutout of the season.
Schalk finished the game 2-for-4, with a career-best three RBI in the victory.