BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Southern Illinois' Rennie Troggio drew a two-out bases loaded walk in the top of the seventh inning to bring home what proved to be the game-winning run as the UAB baseball team fell, 5-4, on Friday night in the season opener at Young Memorial Field.
UAB (0-1) jumped out to an early lead, using a four-run two-out rally in the bottom of the third.
SIU starter Sam Coonrod had cruised through the first 2.2 innings of action, allowing only two walks during that span, until the Blazers were able to produce an offensive outburst.
The top five batters in the Blazer lineup all reached base in a row with two down.
Leadoff hitter Chase Davis got things going, reaching on an infield single, in front of a base hit to left by Ryan Prinzing. Ivan De Jesus followed by lining a RBI single to right field, sending Davis home with the first run of the game.
Cleanup hitter John Frost next dug into the batter's box and did his job, roping a two-run double into the left field corner to put the Blazers up 3-0. Frost tied a career-high in hits going 3-for-4, marking the 12th time he has produced a three-hit game in his career.
After a walk to Jeff Schalk and Frost advancing to third on a wild pitch, the duo executed a double steal, as Frost raced home with UAB's fourth run of the frame.
SIU responded the next half inning, scoring four runs of its own off UAB starter Turner Lee.
Lee dodged some bullets in the first two frames as he worked out jams in both the first and second innings, holding the Salukis scoreless and causing the visiting offense to strand five base runners. In total SIU left 11 men on base in the ball game.
However, in the fourth, the Salukis responded after the big inning by the Blazers by notching a four-spot in the top half of the fourth. A ground out started the inning before five straight SIU batters reached base, featuring a two-run single by Jake Welch and a two-run double just inside the third base bag by Ryan Rosthenhausler.
"It's important when you get four runs, you'd like to come back out and have a stop inning and not let the other team back in it," UAB head coach Brian Shoop said. "But credit (SIU) for being able to answer the bell right away. It was a good game, down to the wire."
Knotted at 4-4, zeros filled up the scoreboard until the top of the seventh.
Freshman Cory Eller (0-1), who had stopped the bleeding in the fourth, worked 3.1 innings before being lifted for fellow right-handed reliever Chase Mallard.
With two down and the bases loaded, Troggio drew a walk to bring in SIU's fifth and game deciding run to round out the scoring on the day. It appeared as though the Salukis would cash in some more runs in the inning, but first baseman Sam Kelley made a nice sliding snag on a line drive by Welch to end the threat.
Three SIU relievers combined to throw the final four innings of the game in place of Coonrad, who went the first five and struck out seven.
Aaron Synder (1-0) picked up the victory, pitching two scoreless frames, followed by Tyler Dray and Todd Eaton who each pitched an inning. Eaton earned the save, recording the last three outs.
De Jesus joined Frost with multiple hits, going 2-for-3 with a walk and one RBI.
The Blazers and Salukis will meet up for game two of the series on Saturday. First pitch is slated for 2 p.m.