Freshmen Play Well For Tide Baseball

In the first week of Southeastern Conference baseball competition, seven teams turned in 2-1 records and seven teams were 1-2. Better to be on the high side, particularly when you've opened against a nationally ranked team. Alabama accomplished the mission with two wins against No. 20 Kentucky.

Alabama has been playing well in the early weeks of the season with a 12-6 overall record including the 2-1 SEC mark. In addition to its two wins against Kentucky, Bama, had a 12-1 decision against a very good Samford team mid-week.

This week Coach Mitch Gaspard's Crimson Tide has two non-conference games during the week, hosting Alcorn State at 6 p.m. CDT Tuesday and again at 5 p.m. Wednesday. This weekend, Bama is back into conference play, traveling to Arkansas foir games at 6:30 Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. Sunday.

Alabama had some worthy nominees for SEC honors this week. Tide catcher Will Haynie is a player of the week nominee and starter Nick Eicholtz is pitcher of the week nominee. Both are freshmen. And another freshman, Thomas Burrows, is Bama's nominee for Freshman of the Week.

Haynie, a 6-5, 225-pound catcher and designated hitter from Nashville, batted .385 (5-13) with a .923 slugging percentage that included a double and two home runs last week. He had six runs batted in and scored three runs. In game one against No. 20 Kentucky, he had an RBI single in the second inning, and then with the Tide clinging to a 1-0 lead, he hit a leadoff home run off A.J. Reed in the 8th inning. In a 12-1 win over Samford, he was 2-for-3 with a double and a home run with a career-high four RBI and two runs scored. Haynie is hitting .298 for the season after posting a .488 (13-29) average with two doubles, two home runs, eight RBI, seven runs scored, and a .724 slugging percentage over his last eight games. He had a seven-game hitting streak during that stretch that included five multi-hit games.

Eicholtz, a 6-4, 190-pound right-hander from Odessa, Fla., earned his first career win after throwing seven innings with a career-high 12 strikeouts against Samford. The Bulldogs came into the game with a nine-game winning streak and batting .301 as a team. Eicholtz held them to three hits, opening the game with six scoreless innings before allowing a run in the seventh. He needed just 84 pitches to get through seven innings.

Burrows, a 6-1, 225-pound left-hander from Florence, made three appearances in four games, totaling 3 2/3 innings pitched. He closed out all three wins without allowing a hit or a run, while striking out five of the 12 batters he faced. He retired 11 of the batters he faced, including a perfect inning against Samford in which he struck out two of the three batters he faced. Burrows earned his first career save against No. 20 Kentucky, the nation's top-hitting team entering the weekend, on Friday when he retired all five batters he faced, with two strikeouts, to preserve a shutout of the Wildcats. In his third appearance of the week, he got the win after throwing a scoreless 10th inning against the Cats, that included one strikeout. Burrows leads the team with seven appearances, totaling 11 innings. He has not allowed a run, while striking out 12 batters and has given up just one hit to the 34 batters he's faced, to hold opponents to a .030 batting average this season. He is 3-0 with one save in 2014.

Alabama'S Friday win over Kentucky extended the Tide's season-long winning streak to seven games. That 3-0 win over the Wildcats had Bama allowing only one run in its previous 48 2/3 innings.

In its four games last week, Alabama batted .274, averaging 5.5 runs and 9.3 hits per game.

Alabama clubbed four home runs in the four games, with two coming in the series clinching win over Kentucky. In the ninth inning Sunday, the Tide got a two-out, two-run homer from Austen Smith to send the game to extra innings. That turned out to be extra inning as in the bottom of the 10th got a two-run homer from Mikey White to win the game and the series.

Alabama had just six home runs entering the week.

Casey Hughston – another freshman -- matched Haynie with a team-high .385 average for the week. The outfielder was 5-for-13 with a double, two RBI, and two runs scored. Smith hit .333 for the week that included three RBI and four runs scored. His dramatic homer in the bottom of the ninth against Kentucky was his first of the year. Smtih leads the Tide with a .333 batting average, 14 RBI, and a .400 on-base percentage. His .439 slugging percentage is second on the squad.

White had three hits in the four games, but his last at-bat of the week produced a walk-off two-run home run in the 10th inning in a 5-3 series clinching win over Kentucky. It was his first home run of the season and third of his career. White also started the first Alabama triple play in 15 years, which came with no outs and the bases loaded in the sixth inning of the series opening game against Kentucky.

Kyle Overstreet hit .353 (6-for-17) last week with an RBI and a team-high four runs scored … Georgie Salem had five hits last week, with three coming in the series finale against Kentucky … Salem is second on the team with a .316 average and he leads the team with 25 hits and 79 at-bats … he also leads the club with seven multi-hit games this season. Tide pitchers posted a .208 average for the week, recording 35 strikeouts while walking nine.

Spencer Turnbull lowered his season ERA to 0.31 after throwing 7 1/3 scoreless innings against Kentucky on Friday night. Turnbull allowed four hits in the game and is holding opponents to a .141 batting average this season. He's allowed three runs (1 earned) in a team-high 29 innings, and has not allowed a run in his last 14 1/3 innings and has not allowed an earned run in his last 23 1/3 innings. Eicholtz now has a 1.23 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 22 innings and opponents are hitting only .153.

Jon Keller allowed three runs on eight hits with four strikeouts in the series finale against Kentucky. Keller is 4-0 with a 1.63 ERA in 27.2 innings, and is fourth on the team with 19 strikeouts.

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