If a team has lost the first two games of a three-game series, the best thing it can do is finish with a win for momentum going forward, and thanks to an excellent pitching performance by Nick Eicholtz that’s what Alabama did in Lexington Sunday.
Alabama starter Nick Eicholtz worked a career-long 7 2/3 innings, allowing just one run, as the Crimson Tide claimed a 2-1 victory over 19th-ranked Kentucky Sunday.
The win enabled Bama, which lost two tough games on Friday and Saturday, to even its Southeastern Conference record at 6-6 and improve to 19-13 on the season.
“Both teams played really good, clean baseball,” said Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard. “Kentucky is a really good team. We fought, scrapped, and found a way to win today’s game. Nick (Eicholtz) gave us a great outing. He needed to go out there and dominate an SEC game for his confidence, and that’s what he did here today. That confidence goes throughout all 27 guys in the dugout and it helped us win today’s game.”
Eicholtz (2-1) gave up three hits with a walk and had three strikeouts. The junior retired the first nine batters he faced before giving up a single, and then followed that hit with a streak of eight straight sat down before issuing a walk. Eicholtz recorded the first two outs of the eighth before giving up a single to end his day.
Thomas Burrows followed, allowing consecutive singles to score Kentucky’s lone run of the game. The Crimson Tide closer rallied to retire the next four batters for his seventh save of the season and his second in SEC play.
Alabama got a run in the first inning when Cobie Vance doubled and the Wildcats had a throwing error on a ground ball by Chance Vincent, allowing Vance to score.
The Tide made it 2-0 in the eighth. Georgie Salem led off the inning with a single to center and was advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Salem moved to third on a passed ball, and trotted home after Chandler Avant’s single to left.
The two teams would go scoreless until the top of the eighth, when Alabama improved its lead to 2-0. Georgie Salem led off the inning with a single to center and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. A passed ball moved Salem to third before Chandler Avant’s single to left crossed the leadoff man for the second run of the game.
Three consecutive two-out singles – the first off Eicholtz and two off Burrows – got Kentucky on the board in the bottom of the eighth. Burrows got a pop-up to end the inning, then struck out two of three in a 1-2-3 ninth.