Falcons fall to UAH in extra innings in season opener

FROM STAFF REPORTS

The University of Montevallo baseball team opened the 2012 season with a heartbreaking 4-3 loss in 10 innings to the University of Alabama in Huntsville in its season opener Feb. 2.

The Falcons (1-0) were led by junior Vincent Andrews, who was 2-of-5 at the plate with a homerun, two RBIs and a run scored.

Senior Heath Peterson was 3-of-4 at the plate with a run scored and a walk. Freshman Vinny Rodriguez was the only other Falcon with an RBI as he went 1-of-2 with a double and an RBI.

The Falcons’ pitching staff was solid throughout the contest, but a few key hits by the Chargers gave UAH the victory.

Sophomore Alex Guilford got the opening day start as he went six innings, giving up a pair of runs off of seven hits. He did not give up a walk or earn a strikeout.

Sophomore Hunter Stevens pitched 1 2/3 innings of shutout ball, with three hits given up. The losing pitcher was senior Wes Rich, a Pelham High School graduate, who pitched the final 2 1/3 innings with two hits and two runs given up while earning one strikeout.

There were a number of spectacular defensive plays on both sides of the ball, including a diving catch by Montevallo starting center fielder Zack Willoughby, a diving catch by Willoughby’s replacement in center field Kirk Waligora and an over the fence robbing of a homerun by UAH right fielder Ty Chancelor.

Montevallo had runners in scoring position in both the second and third innings, but came up empty on both occasions. The Chargers struck first in the fifth inning as they opened the frame with back-to-back singles. After a sacrifice bunt they had runners on second and third base with just one out. A single through the left side scored the first of UAH’s two runs that inning. A sacrifice fly to center field would bring in UAH’s second run.

In the bottom of the sixth inning Peterson led off the inning with a single to center field. After a strikeout and a fly out, senior Blaine Rosenburg, an Oak Mountain High School graduate, stepped to the plate. Rosenburg sent a towering shot down the right field line, but a great leap by the UAH right fielder robbed Rosenberg of his first homerun of the season.

Montevallo finally responded in the bottom of the eighth inning, as sophomore Will Fulmer reached on a one-out walk. After a fly out to center field, Andrews blasted a two-run homerun over the right field fence to tie the game at 2-2.

Neither team was able to score in the ninth inning and a two-run homer by the Chargers in the top of the 10th inning gave UAH a 4-2 lead.

The Falcons tried to mount a comeback in the bottom half of the inning as Peterson hit a one-out single to the shortstop, but a throwing error allowed him to advance to second base. After a strikeout, Rodriguez hit a double off the right field fence to score Peterson and put the Falcons within reach. A strikeout ended the game, giving UAH the opening-game victory.

The Falcons return to action Friday, Feb. 3, at noon as they close out their series with UAH with a doubleheader at home.