Seventh-Inning Gets Bama Past St. Louis

If at first you don't succeed, maybe someone else will give you a Chance to succeed in another way. That was the situation as the Alabama baseball team scored seven runs in the seventh inning to break open a close game and roll to a 9-3 rubber game victory over St. Louis Sunday at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

With the score tied at 2-2 going into the bottom of the seventh inning, Austen Smith and Will Haynie reached base on back-to-back hit-by-pitches. Chance Vincent's job was to sacrifice them up with a bunt. But a wild pitch did the job for him. With the Chance to swing away, Vincent delivered a double that scored both runs and opened the floodgates.

After the Vincent double, Hunter Webb was hit by a pitch and Georgie Salem walked to load the bases. A walk by Mikey White, singles from Ben Moore and Kyle Overstreet and a sacrifice fly from Smith, gave the Tide a commanding 9-2 lead.

Alabama's seven run explosion is the most the Tide has produced in an inning since they did it in back-to-back games against Tennessee and Samford on March 17 and 19, respectively, last season.

Junior southpaw Jon Keller (1-0) secured the win for Alabama with four innings of scoreless pitching, giving up one hit and retiring the last nine batters he faced. He relieved right-hander Ray Castillo, who gave up two runs in his first collegiate start at The Capstone. Castillo lasted three innings, allowing two hits with a strikeout and three walks.

"The key to the game was Jon Keller coming out of the pen," Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard said. "He did a great job and really settled things down and gave our offense an opportunity. Offensively, Vincent had a big hit for us and opened it up a little bit which helped us in that inning."

Zach Girrens took the loss for St. Louis after allowing four of the Tide's runs in their big seventh inning. Girrens lasted one inning, giving up a hit and hitting four of the eight batters he faced.

"Overall, offensively we are not where we want to be," Gaspard said. "We have to make some corrections and adjustments throughout the week. They pitched us away all weekend and we have to do a better job with executing the ball away offensively. Overall, St. Louis is a really good club. They battled hard and you can see why they were a regional team and projected to win their league. Overall, this weekend we got better, but there is certainly plenty we can improve on here in the next couple of weeks.

The Tide's first two runs came in the second inning. After Moore and Wade Wass walked to open the inning, a Kyle Overstreet's sacrifice bunt to set up Smith's two-run single to center. The Billikens responded in their next opportunity, loading the bases in the top of the third and getting a single from Braxton Martinez to tie the game at two apiece.

Smith was 1-for-2 and led the Tide offense with three RBI and Overstreet's lone hit came in the seventh inning to drive in two. Moore was 1-for-2 with an RBI and two runs scored and Wass also scored twice for the Tide. In his first collegiate start, freshman left fielder Hunter Webb recorded a single, was hit by a pitch and scored a run in the seventh.

Alabama righties Jay Shaw and Jake Hubbard combined for the final two innings with a ninth-inning throwing error setting up the Billikens' only other run of the game, a Danny Brennan sacrifice fly.

The Crimson Tide continues their 2014 campaign next weekend at Sewell-Thomas Stadium with a three game series against the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. on Friday, 2:05 p.m. on Saturday, and 1:05 p.m. on Sunday.

Alabama Game Notes

After serving as the Crimson Tide's primary closer in his freshman year, sophomore righty Ray Castillo made his first career start in the Tide's win on Sunday.

First baseman Austen Smith notched his first multi-RBI game of the season and 27th of his career.

Kyle Overstreet and Chance Vincent recorded their ninth and third multi-RBI games, respectively, with two RBIs apiece.

Freshman left fielder Hunter Webb recorded the first stolen base of his career, stealing second in the bottom of the fifth inning.

The seven runs scored in the bottom of the seventh inning marks the first time the Crimson Tide has done so since March 19, 2013, at Samford, dating back 44 games.

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