Devils Down, Tide Braces For Vols

The last thing Alabama needed was to continue in the funk of last week. Bama broke out of its baseball malaise in a big way, completing an easy sweep of Mississippi Valley State with a 10-0 Wednesday win. There's no time to enjoy it, though, with Tennessee coming to town for a three-game series beginning Thursday.

Alabama bounced back from its five-game losing streak with two midweek wins over the Delta Devils at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. On Wednesday Bama got excellent pitching from a newcomer and solid hitting from the usual cast of characters for a 10-0 victory.

The Crimson Tide, which had fallen out of three college baseball polls but is hanging on at 24th in the nation in one ranking, improved its record to 23-13. Bama is 15-0 all-time against Mississippi Valley.

Now its back to Southeastern Conference play with a series that has a rare Thursday start. That's because ESPNU is televising the first game of the series with first pitch at 6:30 p.m. CDT at The Joe. Bama continues to lead the SEC Western Division, despite being swept by No. 1 ranked Vanderbilt last weekend. The Tide is 7-5 in league play.

Tennessee is struggling in SEC competition at 2-10. Alabama has amassed 21 of its victories in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama will start senior right-hander Nathan Kilcrease (4-2, 2.63 ERA) while Tennessee will counter with senior left-hander Rob Catapano (2-2, 3.49 ERA) for the opener. The teams will also play at 6:30 p.m. Friday and conclude at 5 p.m. Saturday.

"The last two days were just what we needed to get back on track," Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard said Wednesday. "We had a real good outing by Adam Windsor."

Windsor was excellent in his brief outing. The sophomore left-hander pitched a perfect game through five innings to run his record to 2-0. It was his first career start. He used only 38 pitches, 32 of which went for strikes. He had one strikeout.

The Alabama offense provided an efficient 10 runs on 13 hits. The one-through-four hitters all had multi-hit performances -- Brock Bennett (3 hits), Jared Reaves (2) Taylor Dugas (2), and Austen Smith (2). Bennett, batting leadoff for the first time in his career, went 3-for-3 with three runs while drawing one walk. Reaves was 2-for-3 with two runs and three RBI while walking once. The top four hitters were a combined 9-for-13, contributing seven runs while knocking in seven and walking three times.

"I'm pleased with the way we played the last two days," Gaspard added. "I thought we responded after a tough weekend and played solid baseball on all ends of the game the past couple of days."

Taylor Wolfe, Brett Whitaker, Josh Rosecrans and Jonathan Smart closed out the final four innings for the Tide to help secure the shutout. Rosecrans threw a perfect eighth inning, striking out the three batters he faced. Mississippi Valley State (13-21) starter Steven Barnes (4-4) took the loss.

Alabama opened the scoring in the bottom of the third. Bennett led off the inning with his second single of the game, and came around two batters later when Dugas hit his 11th career triple. Dugas scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-0.

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth, Jared Reaves smacked a double to left-center, plating all three runners and making it 5-0.

Bennett led off the sixth inning with his third single of the game. Reaves was hit by a pitch. Dugas slapped a single up the middle to bring Bennett home and send Reaves to third. Smith followed with a double down the left field line, to plate two more runs. Andrew Miller got a single past a diving Delta Devil shortstop, adding another run and widening the Tide lead to 9-0.

Bama scored its final run in the bottom of the eighth on an RBI single by Patrick McGavin. McGavin, who entered the game in place of Smith defensively in the seventh inning, plated Reaves who reached on a double to lead off the inning. The RBI was the first of McGavin's career at The Capstone.

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