Tide Rides Haynie Homer To Win Over UAB

HOOVER – He doesn’t use a sword, but the bat used by Alabama sophomore catcher Will Haynie has been pretty effective slaying Dragons lately. As in, the Blazers of UAB baseball, whose mascot is a dragon. Haynie hit his second homer in two games against the Blazers this season, a three-run shot, to help propel Alabama to a 5-1 win and season sweep over their instate (and intra-UA system) rivals.

As it turns out, Haynie got some help from a former Alabama great who also spent time with the New York Yankees. “Me and Coach (Andy) Phillips have been working all week on getting my foot down early and trying to see the ball a little better,” said Haynie. “I worked a good at bat, and saw a couple of pitches. I got a good pitch, and I put a good swing on it.”

Tide Coach Mitch Gaspard said “That was good to see. Will’s worked really hard. He and Coach (Andy) Phillips spent some time (Monday) in the cage. I thought (Haynie) had a lot of good at bats tonight. He squared up a couple of balls, and obviously got the ‘big fly’ that got us going.

“I thought the pitching was outstanding tonight. The bullpen was really solid.”

Haynie hit tape measure blasts against the Blazers both the past two Tuesdays, including last week’s 7-2 win at Regions Field. This week’s blast came at the Tide’s “home away from home,” the Hoover Met, on a night when 2014 American Idol finalist Jessica Meuse sang the National Anthem and did Slapout, Ala. proud.

With one down in the Tide second, freshman first baseman Cody Henry was hit by a Dylan Munger pitch. Senior designated hitter J. C. Wilhite singled to right, and Haynie hit a 3-1 Munger offering about 400 feet to left center. (The left center field fence at The Met is 375 feet.) That homer put the Tide up 3-0. Junior third baseman Chance Vincent then doubled over first, and Munger’s night was over. His replacement, Thomas Lowery, also a lefty, struck out Chandler Avant and Georgie Salem to end the inning.

Tide starter Nick Eicholtz escaped a jam in the third when the Blazers loaded the bases with two outs, but he induced a pop out to first from Tyler Mims to keep UAB off the board.

UAB (21-14) got on the board on a two-out RBI single by Matt Morse in the fourth. After Nathan Vincent reached on a single, Gaspard brought in Jay Shaw to quell the two-out, two-on rally. Shaw got Griffin Gum to ground out to third and stop the bleeding. The Tide took a 3-1 lead to the bottom of the fourth. Eicholtz went 3 2/3 innings, allowed one earned run, three hits, walked three, and struck out five Blazer batters.

The Bama fifth began when freshman left fielder Avant singled. Salem struck out, and Mikey White was in the box when Avant was balked to second by lefty reliever Ryan Ruggles. Hughston drew a two-out walk. Kyle Overstreet hit a high bouncer to short that Adam Smith misplayed, allowing Avant to score and moving Hughston to third. The play was changed from an error to a hit, but proved costly, as SEC Freshman of the Week Henry lined an RBI single to right, and Bama took a 5-1 lead to the sixth. Henry notched a hit in his eighth straight games, went 2-for-3, and has multi-hit games in six of the Tide’s last seven contests.

Mitch Greer got the side in order for Bama in the sixth, and Thomas Burrows came in to pitch the seventh. The sophomore lefty went one frame, allowed a walk, and induced a seventh inning-ending double play grounder to short.

Gaspard sent Ray Castillo out to start the eighth. The junior retired all three batters in his one inning. The sidewinding Wilhite headed to the mound, and finished the game by retiring three of the four men he faced to ice the win.

Next up for Bama (19-16) is a weekend trip to Columbia, Missouri to face the 18th ranked Tigers beginning Friday night.

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