Paced by five home runs, 10 doubles and 35 total hits on the day, the University of Alabama in Huntsville baseball team clinched its fifth Gulf South Conference series of the year by sweeping the ninth-ranked North Alabama Lions in a Saturday doubleheader at Charger Park. The Chargers used a persistent scoring attack to claim game one by a score of 9-6 before erupting offensively in an 18-1 decision in the nightcap.
After the day, UAH improves to 28-19 overall and 15-8 in the conference while UNA falls to 35-14 on the season and 14-9 in league play. In addition, UAH clinched its third consecutive series over the Lions when the series is played in Huntsville (2007, 2009).
UAH will aim for just its second three-game series sweep of UNA in program history when the teams return to the diamond Sunday for game three. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT. The Chargers swept UNA, 3-0, in Huntsville during the 2000 campaign.
Three home runs and six doubles paced the Chargers offensive explosion in game one, led by Eric Deese who connected on two homers in the game to go along with a double as UAH claimed the series opener by a score of 9-6.
The Chargers piled on runs relentlessly, scoring at least one run in every frame but the sixth inning. Vincent Kortbawi blasted his first home run of the year in the second inning, plating two runs off the deep ball. Deese then connected on the first of his two home runs in the game in the third inning.
Deese is the first to hit two homers in one game since the 2010 season when Ryan McCrory accomplished the feat twice during the season – first against West Alabama on March 15 and again on March 20 at Valdosta State.
UAH opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning, plating a run off a Deese double to straight away centerfield. Ty Chancelor had reached base earlier in the inning after being hit by a pitch, and scored on Deese's double to give the Chargers an early 1-0 advantage.
The Chargers got out of a jam in the top of the fifth. With the bases loaded and just one out, UNA's Josh Doyle lined out straight to shortstop Grant DeBruin who then stepped on the bag at second base for the double play, ending the threat and keeping the Lions scoreless through five frames.
UNA finally got on the board in the sixth inning when Josh Cyr connected on his eighth home run of the season. Drew Parker and Darrmal Moore then cut the Lions' deficit to three runs, 6-3, on back-to-back singles with each scoring a runner from second base.
With the bases loaded again for UNA in the top of the seventh, Josh Carpenter hit a bouncing single over the third baseman's head into left field. The bouncer scored two runs and brought the Lions within one run of UAH, but the Chargers still held onto its 6-5 lead.
Jon McKinney gave UAH its first of many insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh, landing a bloop single in right centerfield to score a runner from second and extend the Chargers' lead to 7-5.
In the eighth inning, Deese lined his second homer of the game over the left field wall to give UAH an 8-5 lead. Brock followed with a double, then stole third and scored on a Justin Riddle double and the Chargers' again took command of the game, 9-5, en route to the victory. UNA scored one run in the top of the ninth but couldn't overcome the deficit.
Drew Eiland started for UAH on the mound and picked up the victory, working 6.1 innings and allowing five runs on 11 hits and one walk. Dana Wright saw action for 1.2 innings while Cody Barrett earned his seventh save of the year, working the final frame where he allowed one run on two hits and struck out one batter.
Eric Deese connected on his third home run of the day, and Jon McKinney hit his first career grand slam, as UAH cruised to an 18-1 victory over No. 9 UNA in the nightcap Saturday. It is the largest margin of victory over UNA is school history, bettering the 18-2 Charger win in 2003.
UAH loaded the bases quickly in the first inning, and with two outs, Justin Riddle cleared the bags with a standup double. Vincent Kortbawi then singled through the right side to score Riddle and give UAH a 4-0 lead through the opening frame.
With the bases loaded again in the bottom of the third and after scoring two runs in the second inning, Jon McKinney stepped to the plate for UAH, and hit his first career grand slam off the foul post down the left field line. It was the third UAH grand slam this season and extended the Chargers' lead to 10-0 at the time. UAH led 13-0 through just three innings.
UNA picked up its lone run of the game in the top of the fourth after Josh Cyr hit a solo home run over the left field wall – his second of the day after hitting one in the first game.
The Chargers scored five more runs in the fifth inning to increase their advantage to 18-1, which would turn out to be the eventual final score.
Johnny Shuttlesworth was solid on the hill for UAH, working 6.0 innings and allowing just one run on four hits while striking out four and walking none. Kyle Jeter posted a scoreless 1.0 inning outing with one strikeout in relief.