At the artic Charger Park on Saturday, the UAH baseball team started the 2011 season out the right way. The UAH Chargers swept a two-game series from the Kentucky State Thorobreds in the inaugural Opening Day on campus. In weather fit for a football with wind chills in the 20s and snow falling most of the afternoon, the Chargers outscored the Thoroughbreds a combined score of 36-3 in two 7-inning games, 24-3 in Game One, and 12-0 in Game Two.
Kentucky State got on out top 1-0 in the top half of the first with an unearned run scored on the Chargers only error of the afternoon. The Chargers responded with three hits and four runs to take a 4-1 lead. The day only got better for the Chargers, adding two runs in the 2nd, seven in the 4th, two in the 5th and nine runs in the 6th inning. The Thoroughbreds would score two runs in the top of the 7th inning to account for the final 24-3 score.
In the rout, the Chargers collected 25 hits led by pre-season all-conference senior Jordan Parker, who went 5-for-6 with five RBIs. Also with five hits were juniors Jon McKinney, Grant Debruin and Mike Love. On the day, these four guys went a combined 20-for-22 with 16 RBIs. Love set a school record with four doubles in the game. Also starting out the 2011 season out right was junior Eric Deese who went 2-for-5 with 4 RBIs and collected the first home run of the season for the Chargers. He hit a towering three-run bomb down the left field line in the 6th inning. Also joining the hit parade were freshman Justin Riddle, senior David Reinger and senior Corey Whittle.
For the Kentucky State Thorobreds, the two bright spots were DH Ricardo Vasquez, who went 2-for-3 and first baseman Gregory White who was 2-for-4 and had the only 2 RBIs of the game. Matthew Adel took the loss on the hill with four innings of work in the start.
What could have easily gone unnoticed in the blowout was an impressive pitching performance from senior Ryan Frevert. The eight-game winner from 2010 picked up his 1st win of the year with a dominant performance on the hill. The Missouri native went four solid innings, scattering five hits, striking out four and walking none. He didn’t allow an earned run on the day and had two of his four strikeouts in his last inning of work. Head coach Hunter Royer had his starters on a four-inning limit, due to the bitter cold temperatures in Huntsville. Coming on in relief was Senior Byne Goodin, who also pitched well for three innings to finish the game out. He allowed only three hits and punched out four hitters on the day. He allowed the only two earned runs in the 7th on a bloop single with two outs. While facing the cold temps and snow, these two guys did an excellent job in their first outings of the year.
Pitching took center stage as the Chargers took a perfect game into the 6th inning. The offense only had 16 hits in Game Two and UAH won 12-0 in the seven-inning contest. Senior Dustin Bryant got the start and was perfect for the afternoon. He went four innings, facing 12 hitters and retiring all 12 of them. Not only was he perfect for four innings, he had eight strikeouts vs. only 12 hitters. He punched out seven in a row at once point and clearly was too much for the Thoroughbreds to handle.
Coach Royer pulled Bryant after the 4th due to the cold and being the first game of the season, but still had the perfect game intact. Junior David Kendrick took over in the 5th and picked up right where Bryant left off, striking out the side. After he punched out the first batter of the 6th for his 4th in a row, he got ahead of Jeremy Newton with a 0-2 count. On the next pitch, Newton hit a bloop pop up about six inches out of reach of the diving 2nd basemen Tyler Dorning on the right field grass. It was a great pitch by Kendrick but even a better piece of hitting by Newton to just make contact and break up the Perfect Game.
Before the next pitch, Kendrick picked off Newton on first for the 2nd out of the inning. He got his 5th strikeout of the day on the next hitter for an amazing two innings of work. Senior Lance Gibson came in to finish the game off in the 7th, striking out two and walking one, to complete the shutout for the Chargers. The pitching staff allowed only one hit while striking out 15 batters and facing only one batter over the minimum.
On the offensive side of Game Two, the hot bats continued for UAH led by Jordan Parker, Eric Deese and junior Ty Chanclor all collecting three hits each. Grant Debruin remained perfect on the day with a 2-for-2 efforts in Game Two. Freshman Ben Carr also picked up two hits in the game, while freshman Tyler Dorning, Mike Love, and sophomore Justin McNeese all had one hit each.
For the day, the Chargers shined in every aspect of the game. On the mound, they allowed only two earned runs in 14 innings of work, while only walking one hitter the entire day. The Chargers also had 23 strikeouts and while scattering only nine hits. These stats would be amazing in April, but knowing the brutal cold weather that they faced all afternoon, the pitching staff was unbelievable.
The offense didn’t mind the chilly conditions either, as they amassed 41 hits in only 12 innings at the plate. They scored 36 runs on the day and were two hits away from tying a school record for hits in Game One. Leading the way at the plate was Jordan Parker who was 8-for-10 on the day. Grant Durbin, who was a perfect 7-for-7 at the plate, followed him. Mike Love was 6-for-9 for the day followed by Eric Deese and Jon McKinney with five hits each. All but two players on the roster recorded a hit for the chargers in their first series of the season.
The Chargers (2-0) look to keep things hot at home on Friday, February 11 at 11 a.m. against Martin Methodist for a doubleheader. The forecast is calling for even colder temperatures on Friday and throughout the weekend. Maybe the Chargers can continue their red-hot bats in the ice-cold weather again.