Blazers get spot in title contest

Published 11:05 pm Friday, May 25, 2012

UAB will be playing for a Conference-USA title on Sunday.

The Blazers (31-27) locked up a berth in the title game against Memphis with a 6-3 win over Tulane on Friday and an 11-1 UCF win over East Carolina.

Former Porters Chapel standout Michael Busby will take the mound for UAB against Memphis on Sunday, which starts at 1 p.m.

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When UAB arrived at Trustmark Park Friday to open day three of the Conference USA Tournament against Tulane, Chase Mallard’s day began as most relief pitchers do — he got loose, found a seat in the dugout as first-pitch time approached and shouted in support of starter Ben Bullard as he began his warm-up tosses.

In the blink of an eye, however, Mallard was thrust into action as Bullard — who missed time recently with arm problems — reaggravated the injury before throwing the first pitch of the game. After loosening up, Mallard came up big when his team needed him with 62⁄3 solid innings as the seventh-seeded Blazers defeated the third-seed Green Wave

UAB clung to a 2-1 lead after five and a half innings, but created a bit of breathing room in the sixth when a pair of Green Wave errors led to two unearned runs. Tulane made it a 4-3 affair in the top of the sixth courtesy of a run-scoring single by left fielder Brandon Boudreaux and a two-out, RBI-double by catcher Jeremy Schaffer. In the home half of the frame, another Green Wave defensive miscue led to two more unearned runs to account for the final score.

Vicksburg’s Bowen Woodson had an RBI double for the Green Wave (38-19).

Mallard (4-4) earned the victory after giving up three runs on five hits and a walk. He struck out four. Dillon Napoleon earned his second save of the year after scattering a pair of hits and posting a pair of strikeouts over the final 21⁄3 frames.

Shortstop Tanner Bryant led the way for UAB by going 3-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.

UCF 11, E. Carolina 1

Catcher Chris Taladay led a 14-hit Knights’ attack by going 3-for-5 with a home run, a triple and five RBI as second-seeded UCF rolled past No. 6 seed East Carolina.

The Knights jumped on the Pirates early and often, plating one run in the first, three in both the second and fourth innings, and another two in the third to set the tone for the day.

UCF got a solid six-inning start from Ben Lively. Lively (9-2) earned the victory after allowing one run on six hits while striking out two.