BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Winners of six-straight games, Memphis (20-13, 5-4 C-USA) begins a grueling stretch of five games in five days as the Tigers travel to UAB (15-18, 2-4 C-USA) for a three-game Conference USA series at Young Memorial Field.
Sporting a 7-3 record and a 2.09 ERA with 85 strikeouts in the last 86 innings, Memphis will send three lefties to the hill as starters this weekend. LHP Sam Moll (5-2, 2.77 ERA) gets the nod on Friday at 6:30 p.m. with LHP Erik Schoenrock (4-2, 2.21 ERA) toeing the rubber on Saturday at 2 p.m. LHP Alex Gunn (2-2, 1.89 ERA) is slated to start the series finale on Sunday at 1 p.m.
All three games can be seen live on the Memphis Tiger Network. Each game can also be heard live on WUMR 91.7 FM. Live updates will be posted on the Twitter account for Tiger baseball, @UofMBaseball.
April Baseball In April, the Tigers have posted a winning record four times since 2005, but have an overall record of 72-80. Memphis only played five home games in April a season ago, and went 2-3 in those games. However, the Tigers have a combined home record of 20-10 since 2011. On the road, Memphis holds a record of 33-34, including an 8-2 record in 2007. Last year the Tigers posted a road record of 6-6 in April.
Strong Juco Arms Three junior college transfer pitchers have made an immediate impact for the Tigers this season. Alex Gunn (2-2, 1.89 ERA), Jon Reed (2-0, 2.96 ERA) and Conner Porter (1-0, 2.95 ERA) have combined for 80.2 innings pitched and a 2.47 ERA. The trio has walked only 21 batters while striking out 68. Allowing 75 hits thus far, the trio sports a 1.19 WHIP (walks+hits per inning pitched). The Inside Edge UAB sports a 15-18 record entering the weekend series with the Tigers. The Blazers dropped a pair of midweek road games, but UAB carries a 9-7 record on the year at Young Memorial Field. John Frost leads the Blazers with a .378 average and 21 RBI. Like Memphis, UAB hasn’t shown much power as the Blazers have seven home runs, two by Ryan Prinzing and Ivan De Jesus. UAB is 24-of-39 on the basepaths with De Jesus and Tyler Mims have five steals to lead the squad. On the mound, UAB has a 4.43 ERA with 214 strikeouts and 119 walks in 288.2 innings.
Redemption Memphis had won seven-straight games against UAB entering the C-USA Championship game last season. The Blazers took home the hardware with a 5-0 victory, snapping the Tigers stronghold on the series in a big way. Since joining C-USA, Memphis carries a record of 20-35 against teams that defeated the Tigers in the league tournament the previous season. This weekend’s series at UAB is the second such occasion that the Tigers look to avenge a tournament loss to the Blazers. In the first occasion, UAB earned a series sweep at Young Memorial Field in 2005 after defeating the Tigers 7-6 in the 2004 C-USA Tournament.
Elite Company Memphis pitching has posted a 2.66 ERA so far allowing a total of 110 runs, 86 earned, in 33 outings. Going back to 1978, the 1983 staff allowed the next fewest runs, 116, in the first 33 games of that season.
Nail Biters Memphis has played 19 games decided by two runs or less and is 8-10 in those games, picking up two one-run victories in the sweep of UCF. Under head coach Daron Schoenrock, the U of M is 93-114 in games decided by two runs or less.
Ironman Shortstop Ethan Gross has made 126 consecutive starts dating back to the second game of a doubleheader at East Carolina on March 26, 2011. If Gross starts each scheduled game this season he would tie the record for consecutive games started, which is held by Mike Dlugach (149).
20 Wins Memphis earned its 20th win of the season on Wednesday versus UAPB to tie the 2006 and 1999 squads for the quickest to 20-wins since joining Conference USA. The 2006 club was 20-13 at this point of the season and finished 32-28 while the 1999 squad was 20-13 and finished 28-26-1.
Parade of Lefties In the 5-0 win against UAPB on April 10, Memphis broke a streak of 32-straight games with a left-handed pitcher making the start. The longest such streak found around the country this season was 10 games to start the season by California. The move to a right-hander paid off as Dylan Toscano allowed no runs on one hit in the pre-determined four innings of work.
Game Over Jonathan Van Eaton tied the career saves record with his 14th on April 9 against UAPB. With one more save, Van Eaton would break the tie with Matt Yokley. Van Eaton has six saves this season and could tie Yokley’s single-season record of nine.
Speaking of Records Not only is the pitching staff on a record pace, but the ace of the staff has a couple of top-five marks in sight. Sam Moll has 174 career strikeouts and could become the eighth pitcher to top 200 career strikeouts in a career. Moll’s 174 career strikeouts rank him 15 strikeouts shy of breaking into the top-10 in program history. With 67 strikeouts this season, Moll is on pace 117 this season, which would rank second for single-season strikeouts.
Record Pace Not only does the Tiger pitching staff sport an outstanding 2.80 ERA, the U of M pitchers are on a record pace for strikeouts and hits allowed in a season. The table below shows where the Tiger pitchers stack up against the record numbers.
Top Five In Record Book
Top Five In Record Book
Stick It To Cancer This season, Tiger baseball has teamed up with The Cure Baseball, to create awareness about cancer through the game of baseball. The Tigers are taking part in the Stick It To Cancer Campaign by placing The Cure Baseball's Logo sticker on the back of their batting helmets. The Tigers wear this sticker as a visual sign of support for every man, woman and child battling any and all types of cancer.
The Cure Baseball is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a goal of raising cancer awareness through the game of baseball. You can read more about the organization and its mission by visiting TheCureBaseball.org.