Kilcrease Pitches Tide Over Demons
Alabama fans may have been talking about the weather during a two-hour rain delay Saturday. That on top of a late starting time because of the weather forecast. But during the seven innings he pitched, the primary topic was the performance of senior right-handed pitcher Nathan Kilcrease.
"Peanut," as Kilcrease is known, notched a career-high 10 strikeouts over seven innings as the Alabama baseball team defeated the Northwestern State Demons, 4-2, on Saturday night.
The Crimson Tide will look to complete the sweep of the Demons (4-7) on Sunday at 1 p.m. Sophomore right-hander Tucker Hawley (1-1) is schedule to get the Sunday start for Alabama, while junior righty Matt Lackie (0-0) is the probable starter for Northwestern State.
Kilcrease (2-0) scattered five hits while allowing two runs, none of which were earned and posted the longest outing of the season for a Crimson Tide (6-4) pitcher. Junior shortstop Jared Reaves went 2-for-3 on the night with a run scored while sophomore third baseman Brett Booth added a season-high two hits, both finishing the night 2-of-4.
"I thought that we got a great start from Nathan Kilcrease tonight," Bama Coach Mitch Gaspard said. "That's what we've really been looking for from a pitching standpoint. He took us deep into the game and we got some really good relief work from Jonathan Smart so I think that was the story of the ballgame tonight. We have been really looking for a quality start that we could build on"
Senior left hander Jonathan Smart pitched a perfect eighth and ninth inning to earn his first save of the season. Northwestern State (4-7) starter Colin Bear took his first loss of the season as he dropped to 2-1 on the year. Bear threw 6.0 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on eight hits with five strikeouts.
Junior second baseman James Tullidge, freshman left fielder Austen Smith, senior catcher Brock Bennett and sophomore outfielder Brandt Hendricks each drove in a run apiece for the Crimson Tide, who scored four runs on 10 hits on the night.
Gaspard said, "It feels really good to get a win, especially a couple in a row like this. We have an opportunity to sweep and build on the last two games."
The start of the game was delayed two hours due to rain, but once underway it didn't take long for the Crimson Tide to get on the scoreboard. After Reaves reached on a two out single, Smith doubled the first pitch he saw down the left field line to put Alabama up 1-0 in the bottom of the first.
The Tide scored another run in the second to go up 2-0 before allowing the Demons (4-7) to tie the score in the top of the third, with a pair of unearned runs. After a scoreless fourth inning, Bennett gave the Tide the lead back, rifling a one-out single up the middle, scoring Tullidge from second as Alabama took a 3-2 advantage. The Tide added an insurance run in the eighth on a RBI double by Hendricks to take a 4-2 lead into the ninth.
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