Alabama Baseball Off To Good Start

After one weekend of play it is unrealistic to make assessments, but Alabama baseball, at least, is trending in the right direction. After dropping a 2-1 game against St. Louis to open the season, Bama fought back with a come-from-behind 4-3 win and took the rubber game with a 9-3 decision, scoring seven runs in the seventh inning to secrute the win.

Through most of the season, Alabama will play a midweek game, but this week the Crimson Tide does not return to action until Friday. Bama will host Stephen F. Austin in three games – at 6 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. Sunday.

Although there were times in the first game against St. Louis when the Tide didn't get that timely hit that might have won the game, for the rest of the weekend Bama's offense delivered. Alabama was also strong defensively, has had been expected with a squad of veteran position players.

It had been hoped that pitching would be deep and strong for Coach Mitch Gaspard's team, and early indications are that this is the case.

Alabama would want to get good play from its best players, and there was no better example than sophomore shortstop Mikey White, A Freshman All-America in 2013, White was very strong against St. Louis.

White led the Crimson Tide with a .400 average (4-10). He started a two-out rally and scored the game-winning run as Bama had three straight singles in the ninth to beat the Billikens on Saturday. In that game he was 3-5 (one of them a triple) with two runs scored, In the series finale he walked twice, scored a run, and had an RBI in Alabama's seventh-inning outburst. For the weekend he had a .600 slugging percentage and .538 on-base percentage.

He was outstanding of the defensive end with just one eror in 18 chances and was a part of all five Tide double plays.

Following the rubber game win on Sunday, Gaspard said the key was the pitching of junior left-hander John Keller. In felief of starter Ray Castillo, Keller threw four scoreless innings, allowing just one hit. He needed just 29 pitches to record 12 outs as 23 of his 29 pitches (79.3 per cent) were for strikes. He retired the final nine batters he faced in getting the win.

The Bama pitching staff held St. Louis to a .202 batting average and [posted a 2.33 earned run average. The Tide bullpen was particularly effective, in 16 inning allowing only two earned runs (1.12 ERA). The relief crew held the Billikens without an earned run in the last 14 innings pitched.

Offensively, Alabama batted .234 and averaged 4.6 runs per game. In addition to White, catcher Wade Wass delivered the ninth-inning, game-winning RBI single Saturday and was 2-3 in the game with a double and two runs batted in. He walked five times in the sries to post a .538 on-base percentage. Ben Moore was 3-9 in the series and had three RBI and three runs scored. Chance Vincent had only one hit, but it was a big one – a two-run double that drove in two runs to start Bama's big seventh inning on Sunday.

Daniel Cucjen produced the only home run of the weekend.

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