Tide Baseball Has Nominees For SEC

If Alabama only had a nominee for "Bunter of the Week." The inability of the Crimson Tide to successfully execute a sacrifice bunt is the only thing that kept the Bama baseball team from having an undefeated weekend against Stephen F. Austin. As it was, Alabama won two of three games to improve to 4-2 on the season and Bama has several nominees in the actual categories provided by the SEC.

Alabama is certainly justified in nominating sophomore outfielder Georgie Salem for Southeastern Conference Player of the Week, left-hander Justin Kamplain for Pitcher of the Week, and outfielder Casey Hughston as Freshman of the Week.

Last week the Tide opened its series with a 13-inning, 2-1 loss to Stephen F. Austin. A couple of times Bama just needed to move a base-runner up to pull out the victory. the loss came in spit of Salem delivering hits in five at-bats. But Alabama rebounded well with an 8-0 win on Saturday as Kamplain pitched six scoreless innings, and Hughston clubbed a pair of home runs in his first college start. On Sunday Bama took the series with a 3-2 win in 10 innings.

This week the Crimson Tide has its first road action of the year, and it will be a challenge for the 21st ranked Bama squad. Alabama will be at Southern Miss for a game at 6 p.m. CST Wednesday, then go to 14th-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette for games Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Coach Mitch Gaspard got excellent production from a number of players last weekend. For instance, it is hard to leave out men like second baseman Kyle Overstreet, who sent Sunday's game into extra innings with his solo home run and then started the game-winning rally with a single and eventually scored; or Wade Wass, who delivered his second game-winning walk-off hit of the year on Sunday; or pitchers Ray Castillo and Jon Keller, who performed brilliantly.

Salem, a native of Birmingham, had an excellent weekend, leading the Tide with a .571 batting average as he had eight hits in 14 at-bats, including a 5-for-6 night in the series opener. Those five hits in a game tied an Alabama record as Salem was the first to accomplish the feat since 2007. Salem, who hit safely in all three games, had a pair of doubles in the series, scored two runs, and had a run batted in. He walked once and was hit by a pitch for a .625 on-base percentage. Salem is now tied for the team lead with 10 hits this season and he is second in batting average at .385.

Making his second start of the season, Kamplain threw six scoreless innings in Bama's shutout of SFA. The Jasper native had seven strikeouts and did not walk a batter (although he did hit one). He did not give up an extra base hit and did not allow a runner to advance pas second base. He left the game after reaching his predetermined pitch count of 88.

Hughston, who came to Alabama this year from Mobile, had a .333 batting average in the series. In his first career start he went 3-for-5 with two home runs and three RBI. In his first at-bat of the game, and just the second of his college career, he homered for what was the game-winning run in the 8-0 victory. He also had a home run to lead off the seventh inning. It was the first time since 2012 an Alabama player had two home runs in a game.

Alabama baseball notes:

The Tide is batting .244 as a team and averaging 4.3 runs per game.

The Bama pitching is holding opponents to a.185 batting average, while posting a 1.53 ERA and is averaging 7.3 strikeouts per game.

In his second outing of the season, left-handed pitcher Jon Keller blanked SFA for five innings on Sunday to record his second victory of the season, when he struck out six while allowing two hits and a walk. In two appearances and nine innings this season, Keller had not allowed a run, while allowing three hits with six strikeouts and one walk.

In two starts this season, Kamplain has a 2.45 ERA, allowing three runs on six hits with a team-high 12 strikeouts in a team leading 11 innings.

In his second start of the season, Ray Castillo went five innings, allowing two runs (1 earned) on five hits with four strikeouts on Sunday. The five innings on Sunday marked the longest outing of Castillo's career.

In his second career appearance, reliever Geoffrey Bramblett threw two and a third scoreless innings in the series opener against Stephen F. Austin. Through five and one-third innings this season, Bramblett has allowed no runs on three hits with four strikeouts.

Nick Eicholtz threw two scoreless innings, without allowing a hit with two strikeouts on Saturday to help Alabama shutout the Lumberjacks. In five innings this season, Eicholtz has a 0.00 ERA while allowing two hits with three strikeouts out of the bullpen.

After throwing three scoreless innings in the series opener against SFA, Thomas Burrows has not allowed a run and has given up one hit with three strikeouts this season.

Shortstop Mikey White was 6-for-15 in the series against Stephen F. Austin, which included a double and a run scored. White had a pair of multi-hit games in the series, going 3-for-5 in the series opener and 2-for-4 with two RBI in game two. White has reached base safely in all six games this season, and after reaching base safely in the last five games of the 2013 season, he is riding an 11-game streak of reaching base safely. White has a team-best .400 average for the season and is tied for the team lead with 10 hits. He is also tied for the team lead with four RBI and has a double and a triple.

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