In an afternoon light on offense, the son of one of Major League Baseball's most prolific hitters delivered the decisive blow. Patrick Palmeiro, Rafael's son, hit a one-out, RBI triple in the 12th inning to give UAB a 1-0 victory against Ball State on Saturday. It was the Blazers' second walk-off win against the Cardinals in as many days.
The loss was Ball State's third straight since starting the season with a victory on Opening Day. Left-hander Miles Moeller gave up Palmeiro's triple and was charged with the loss in his Ball State debut.
The game was scoreless entering the bottom of the 12th when Tyler Mims started the inning with a pop up to second baseman Mitch Widau. Instead of being the first out, however, Widau dropped it, allowing Mims to reach first base. After Michael Busby grounded into a fielder's choice, Palmeiro drove a pitch to the gap in left center and Busby raced around the bases to score from first.
The Cardinals wasted another excellent effort from their starting pitcher at UAB. A day ago, Cal Bowling allowed two runs in eight innings before Devin Wilburn blew the save. Saturday, left-hander Nestor Bautista threw seven shutout innings, allowing just two hits and striking out seven. It was, by far, the best start of the sophomore's career.
Bautista retired the first 16 batters he faced Saturday before Ivan De Jesus broke up the perfect game with a one-out single in the sixth inning. It was a night-and-day difference from Bautista's first start of the season when he allowed seven runs in 1 1/3 innings at USC-Upstate. Bautista didn't even face 16 batters a week ago. Instead, he was removed after 12 hitters for a reliever.
As good as Bautista was, he was matched pitch-for-pitch by right-hander Ben Bullard. He also threw seven shutout innings, allowing two hits and striking out nine. Sean Godfrey was the only runner to reach second base against Bullard. He hit a two-out single in the seventh and stole second before Bullard struck out Dominic Catanzarite to end the inning.
Both UAB and Ball State got good efforts from their bullpens. Ryan Nance, the Blazers' closer, threw five shutout innings to pick up the victory. Right-hander Chris Marangon threw four shutout innings for Ball State, allowing just one hit and striking out one batter. Even Moeller didn't allow an earned run, despite taking the loss.
For the second day in a row, T.J. Weir was the only Cardinal with multiple hits. Weir went 2-for-4 with a walk. Ball State is hitting just .155 with two extra base hits in two games at UAB. The Cardinals pitching staff, meanwhile, has a 1.89 ERA against the Blazers.
The two teams will conclude their three-game series Sunday at 2 p.m. Weir will make his first start of the season on the mound.