“Overall I think we accomplished some things we wanted to this weekend,” said Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard. “I thought the way we played and the mentality we played with was good to see, and it’s a good start for the opening weekend. Today is no different – we wanted to come out and dominate, and I thought we did that from the first inning on.”
Alabama controlled the weekend against UMES, allowing just 11 total hits compared to the 40 the Crimson Tide accumulated. Twelve of UA’s 40 hits were for extra bases, including 10 doubles and two triples, and the Tide finished the weekend batting .360 as a team.
The Crimson Tide hitters kept pace, remaining hot on Sunday and recording 19 runs thanks to 15 hits. The offense was once again led by Casey Hughston, with the sophomore recording a 4-for-4 day, including a double and triple, while adding five RBI and four runs scored. Kyle Overstreet also added five RBI on a 3-4 effort with one double and two runs scored.
Alabama carried its hot hitting over into the start of today’s game, plating two in the bottom of the first thanks to Casey Hughston. The scoring was kick-started by a single and a stolen base by Georgie Salem. Mikey White immediately followed Salem with a single to place runners on the corners. Hughston capitalized on the opportunity, sending a laser ground ball down the right field line for a triple and two RBI to move Alabama ahead, 2-0.
Two innings later, the Crimson Tide added six runs with Salem earning a walk to lead off the inning. White, Hughston, Kyle Overstreet and Chance Vincent then strung together consecutive singles to record three runs and knock UMES starter Tanner Whiteman out of the game early. Following the pitching change, Will Haynie doubled with runners on the corners to clear the basepaths and continue the Tide’s hot hitting. A flyout advanced the backstop to third and then a sacrifice fly from J.C. Wilhite brought Haynie across to end the Alabama scoring at 9-0 through three innings.
In the fourth, Salem reached base for the third consecutive time with a leadoff double and advanced to third on infield ground out. Hughston followed with a sac fly to center to push Salem across and add another tally to the UA total to make it 10-0.
The Tide erupted for nine runs in the seventh thanks to six hits, four of which came in succession with two outs. With three runs already across and the bases loaded, Riley Colburn recorded an infield single to move the batters one station and was then followed by Daniel Cucjen who singled to score one more. With the bases still loaded, Hughston doubled to the left-center field gap to plate two. Overstreet came to the dish with a pair in scoring position and promptly cleared the bases on a double to left to end the inning’s scoring and set the score at 19-0, the eventual final.
Alabama received another strong performance from the pitching staff. Starter Geoffrey Bramblett tossed six innings, allowing just two hits while striking out three. Jay Shaw, Mitch Greer and Thomas Burrows combined to throw the final three innings and maintain the shutout for the Tide. The win marks the first time Alabama has recorded three consecutive shutouts since March 7-9 of last season when UA blanked Mississippi Valley State in three games.
“We had a good start from [Geoffrey] Bramblett and did a nice job offensively,” Gaspard added. “We were able to get off to a good start and really maintained it for nine innings. This is a good start to the season – and we still have a lot of work to do in front of us – but we accomplished some things we set out to accomplish this weekend.”
Alabama will take the next five days to prepare for a trip to Texas to take on the third-ranked Houston Cougars. Alabama and Houston will play a three-game set from Feb. 20-22, with the first pitch of Friday’s game scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CST.