UAH Falls To UNA, Awaits Opponent In Championship Game
ROME, Ga. – Having already clinched a spot in the championship game, the No. 3 seed University of Alabama in Huntsville baseball team dropped its first contest of the Gulf South Conference Tournament on Monday at State Mutual Stadium, falling to No. 4 seed North Alabama in extra innings by a score of 9-8. The Chargers will be appearing in the championship game for the fifth time in program history.
After a two hour and 12-minute lightning and rain delay suspended action in the bottom of the sixth – the second straight day UAH endured a lightning delay, the Chargers mounted a furious rally to tie the game at 8-8 in the eighth inning. In the bottom of the 11th inning, however, UNA's Josh Doyle hit a walk-off loaded-bases RBI single into right field to give the Lions the 9-8 victory.
Having lost to UNA, the Chargers will now await the winner of No. 1 seed Delta State and No. 4 seed North Alabama, who play Tuesday at 10 a.m. CT for the right to face UAH in the championship game. UAH won its only GSC Tournament title in 2001 when the squad defeated Arkansas Tech twice on the final day.
The Chargers played in the championship in 1996, 1998, 2001 and 2003. UAH lost twice on the final day in 1996 (Delta State) and 1998 (West Georgia), while it won twice in 2001 (Arkansas Tech) and lost once in 2003 (Delta State).
Willard Bacon started for UAH on the mound, working just 1.1 innings in which he allowed two runs – one earned – on two hits and two walks. Luke Mould replaced Bacon and lasted 4.0 innings, allowing six runs on nine hits and three walks while striking out two. Coming in to relive Mould was Kyle Jeter who notched 1.2 scoreless innings and allowed just one hit.
Dana Wright, who picked up a save in game two against West Georgia in the tournament, came in to relieve Jeter in the eighth and finished the game. Wright allowed the game-winning run on three hits and four walks while fanning two batters.
North Alabama opened the scoring with runs on passed balls in the first and second innings to grab an early 2-0 advantage.
Mike Love led off the third inning with a standup double down the left field line, followed by Justin Pearson who was hit by a pitch. Ty Chancelor then loaded the bases with a first pitch single into left field before Eric Deese belted a base-clearing double off the top of the left field wall. There was discussion if the ball bounced off the light post in left field but it was determined to be a three RBI double, giving UAH a 3-2 lead.
In the bottom half of the third, UNA's Andrew Almon blasted the fifth home run of the tournament. The three-run homer, which regained the lead for the Lions, 6-4, scored J.P. LaMunyon and Josh Carpenter who singled and walked earlier in the inning, respectively.
Mould worked the Chargers out of a jam magnificently in the fourth. With the bases loaded and no outs, Mould fanned the next two batters and forced a fly out to centerfield to put an end to the threat as UNA stranded three on the bases. Unfortunately, in the fifth with bases loaded again, the Lions brought across another run on a sac fly by Michael Schmidt to extend their lead to 6-3.
With just one out and runners on second and third in the sixth, Jeter replaced Mould on the hill for UAH and dealt to the Lions' Carpenter who laced a two-RBI single up the middle to give UNA an 8-3 advantage just before the lightning delay.
Out of the delay, the Chargers began to chip away at the five-run deficit with two runs in the seventh inning. After Love singled and Blake Massey was hit by a pitch, Chancelor lined a single to the left fielder who misplayed the ball, which allowed both runs to score.
Jon McKinney then tied the game in the eighth with a deep three-run home run that was a no-doubter, as the left fielder took just a few steps but could only watch. Earlier in the inning, Kortbawi doubled and Love singled before scoring on the homer that eventually sent the game into extra innings.
Through the 10th and 11th innings, UAH had its chances to produce a run, but stranded runners on first and second in both frames. In the bottom of the 11th with two outs, the Lions had runners on second and third before UAH elected to load the bases by intentionally walking the next batter. Doyle then came to the plate and hit the walk-off RBI single into right field to seal the victory for UNA.
Despite the loss, and by virtue of being the last undefeated team in the tournament, the Chargers advance in the double-elimination tournament to Tuesday's championship game at 1 p.m. CT at State Mutual Stadium. UAH will await the winner of No. 1 seed Delta State and No. 4 seed North Alabama, who play at 10 a.m. CT for the right to play the Chargers in the final pairing at 1 p.m. CT.
Tickets can be purchased in-person at the State Mutual Stadium Box Office, online at www.romebraves.com, or at any Ticketmaster outlet. Individual tickets for the championship are $10 and $5 for students with valid student ID. Children 4 and under will be admitted free of charge.
*A special $5 per session rate applies for the entire tournament for anyone who attends the event wearing a baseball or softball uniform.