Hearod sparks Tide to victory

TUSCALOOSA -- Senior right fielder Beau Hearod smacked his fifth career grand slam to highlight a five-run second inning as the No. 34 Alabama Crimson Tide posted an easy 12-1 win over the UAB Blazers Wednesday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

The Jennings, La., native went 2-for-4, including his fourth triple of the season, and scored a career-high four runs to lead Alabama to its fourth straight win over UAB, including two wins this year.

Junior left-hander Jeffrey Norris and junior right-hander Jared Woodward combined to hold the Blazers to one run and six hits. The duo also added 12 strikeouts in the win.

In addition to Hearod's offensive prowess, first baseman Zac Welch reached base five times, including three singles and two walks. Senior designated hitter Al Hecklinski added two RBI singles against his former school.

Alabama (28-13) took an early lead with three runs in the bottom of the first inning on RBI singles by Adam Pavkovich, Welch and Hecklinski.

The Crimson Tide extended its lead to 8-0 in the bottom of the second inning. The five-run inning was highlighted by Hearod's third grand slam of the 2003 season. Hearod smacked an 0-1 pitch over the wall in right-center field to give Alabama an 8-0 lead.

Hearod now has five career grand slams for the Crimson Tide, leaving him one grand slam shy of the Alabama career record held by Mike Pitisci. Pitisci, who hit six grand slams in his only season with the Crimson Tide in 1984, also holds the NCAA record for single-season and career grand slams.

Hearod's third career grand slam was his SEC-leading 16th home run of the season. He also leads the SEC with 62 RBI in 41 games.

UAB starter Chris Thorup (1-3) was the losing pitcher after allowing three runs and four hits in just one inning of work. Thorup was also the losing pitcher in the Blazers 15-8 loss to the Crimson Tide on March 26 at Young Memorial Field in Birmingham.

Hearod was hit by a pitch to lead off the fourth inning and later scored on Nathan Meiners' single to left field give UA a 9-0 lead.

UAB (21-18) avoided the shutout with one run in the fifth inning of Norris. Seth Rollin singled up the midle and moved to third on Sam Clark's double into the right field corner. Mitch Jones then lifted a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Rollin with the Blazers only run of the game.

The Blazers have now lost 12 consecutive games after opening the season with a school-record 13-game winning streak.

Norris (5-1) worked six innings and allowed one earned run and five hits for the Crimson Tide. He added seven strikeouts and walked three batters.

Alabama added three more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to cap the scoring. Heaord led off the inning with his fourth triple of the season and later scored on Hecklinski's single to left field. Charlie Lyons' bases loaded single to left scored Welch and Travis Garner's sacrifice fly plated Hecklinski with the final run.

Woodward pitched three scoreless innings for his first save of the 2003 season. The Tuscaloosa native allowed one hit and fanned five UAB batters. In his last two outings, Woodward has allowed only one run in 10 1/3 innings out of the pen for the Crimson Tide.

Alabama opens a three-game SEC series with the No. 15 Arkansas Razorbacks this Friday at 6:30 p.m. here at the Joe. UAB will travel to No. 21 Southern MIss this weekend in Conference USA action.

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