Some may have questioned the wisdom of Alabama baseball opening the season and debuting the new Sewell-Thomas Stadium by playing a nationally-ranked team in Maryland. But Crimson Tide Coach Mitch Gaspard made it pay off as Bama won the series against the Terrapins, including defeating All-America Maryland pitcher Mike Shawaryn.
As a result, Alabama is nationally-ranked this week as the Tide continues its season-opening seven-game homestand. Bama is No. 30 by College Baseball News following the 2-1 series win over Maryland.
Alabama will host Nicholls State at 6:30 p.m. CST Wednesday in Sewell-Thomas. Nicholls State heads to Tuscaloosa after sweeping Mississippi Valley State in four games last weekend. The Crimson Tide and Colonels will meet for the ninth time in a series that began in 1981, with the Tide owning the 6-2 all-time advantage and a three-game winning streak.
Wednesday’s matchup will be the first $5 Wednesday of the season with all grandstand tickets going for $5.
Alabama will call on senior right-hander Ray Castillo for the Wednesday start. Castillo finished last season ranking second in appearances out of the bullpen with 24 and owned a 3-1 record with four saves and a 3.12 ERA . Castillo had 46 strikeouts against only 16 walks and set career-high marks for innings pitched, strikeouts, and wins in 2015.
Nicholls State will go with junior left-hander Mike Hancher, who was held out last year with injury.
Crimson Tide freshmen and sophomores contributed 11 of the team’s 12 runs on the weekend, highlighted by Chandler Avant’s team-high three RBI and three runs. Avant finished batting .308 (4-13) with a pair of doubles.
The trio of Cobie Vance, Connor Short, and Chance Vincent all finished the weekend batting .500. Vance hit safely in all three games and led the team with six hits, including one double and home run, to go with his two RBI, two runs scored and one stolen base. Short saw time in all three games with two starts, wrapping up his weekend with two RBI, one run scored and a walk. Vincent only recorded six official at-bats, notching two walks and two HBP two go with his two RBI and two runs scored.
Alabama’s bullpen worked a combined 6 2/3 scoreless innings in the two wins. In those late innings, the Tide relievers allowed only two hits and two walks while striking out a combined nine batters. Junior college transfer Matt Foster recorded a hold in each victory, working 2 innings with five of his six outs coming by way of the strikeout. Junior closer Thomas Burrows followed Foster, collecting a save each day and compiling five strikeouts in his 3 innings.
The series victory improved the Tide to 74-33-1 all-time in season-opening series, including a 5-2 mark under head coach Mitch Gaspard.
Following Wednesday’s midweek contest, Alabama will wrap up its seven-game homestand with a trio of games against North Dakota Friday through Sunday. The matchup between the two schools will be the first. Friday’s game is set for a 6:30 p.m. CST start, Saturday is at 2 p.m.,and Sunday at 1.