UAB Series Preview

The Houston Cougars kept their postseason hopes alive with a series win on the road against Tulane last weekend, but they can ill afford a slipup now. Thanks to their midseason swoon and a lack of RPI boosting wins (thanks for nothing UT, A&M and Baylor!), UH still find themselves very much on the bubble.

A series win, and more likely a series sweep, is needed this weekend at home against UAB for the Cougars to feel anywhere close to comfortable with their resume.

The Blazers will come to Cougar Field with an 18-31 overall record and a 4-14 record in Conference USA play.

They have lost eight of their last nine conference games, but their only win in that stretch did come last weekend against Rice.

Offensively, the Blazers are led by senior John Frost. The Decatur, Alabama native is hitting .330 with 15 doubles, 31 RBI and an even .400 on-base percentage. He also has seven steals in ten attempts to top it all off.

Outfielder Ryan Prinzing is hitting .323 with three homers and 24 RBI. He leads the team with a .419 on-base percentage and he has reached base via walk or hit by pitch more often (29 times) than he has struck out (28 times).

Chase Davis (.307) and two-way player Tanner Bryant (.301) round out the .300 hitters in the UAB lineup.

He isn't hitting quite as well as he did last season, but you can't overlook Ivan DeJesus, either. The junior is hitting .276 with eight doubles, a team-leading four triples and nine stolen bases. He is also tied for second on the team with 24 RBI. De Jesus's big downfall is making contact, as he has struck out 48 times on the season.

All told, the Blazers are hitting .258, but I don't think that's an accurate reflection of the talent they have. That average is anchored down by a couple of semi-regular players that are hitting well below .200.

On the mound, UAB has struggled to get outs. As a team, they have a 5.21 ERA.

Their struggles have started in the weekend rotation.

James Naile, the best of the bunch, is 4-5 on the season with a 4.66 ERA. He only has 35 strikeouts in 63.2 innings, so he isn't going to overpower anyone, but with just 16 walks in that time, he also isn't going to give away free passes.

Sam Kelley is 3-6 with an even 5.00 ERA. In 54 innings, he has walked 19 and struck out 22. Again, he isn't going to walk a ton of guys, but he's not going to strike out many either.

The aforementioned Tanner Bryant is 2-6 with a 5.91 ERA. He can be a bit more dominating, as evidenced by his 41 strikeouts in 56.1 innings, but he also struggles with control. He has issued 24 walks and has hit a staggering 12 batters.

In the bullpen, the Blazers have a handful of reliable arms.

Junior Cameron Rose leads the way with a 3.45 ERA in 28.2 innings. Opposing hitters have a .220 batting average off of him. Junior Chase Mallard has a 4.09 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 44 innings pitched. Senior Jacob German has a 4.18 ERA in 32.1 innings. Both Mallard and German give head coach Brian Shoop versatile options. Both pitchers average over two innings per outing.

Taking all this into consideration UH should be in a nice position to get the series sweep they so desperately need. UAB has some talent on offense and some versatile arms on the pitching staff, but they don't do any one thing particularly well and their talent just doesn't quite stack up.

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