Maybe the Alabama baseball team needed a change of scenery. Whatever it was, after 20 consecutive games in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide went to Birmingham Tuesday and broke a four-game losing streak with a 4-1 win over UAB at Regions Field.
Alabama had gone 10-10 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium, but is now 1-0 in road games. Hopefully for Bama that trend will continue because one of the toughest parts of the Tide schedule is looming. Alabama will travel to seventh-ranked South Carolina this weekend for a three-game series. The Southeastern Conference series will begin Friday at 6 p.m. CDT followed by a 3 p.m. game Saturday, 12:30 Sunday.
It was a game of threes – three freshmen pitchers doing the job on the mound, three hitters leading the offense, and the Crimson Tide defense turning a triple play in the three-run victory.
Against UAB Tuesday, the Crimson Tide’s trio of freshmen pitchers held the Blazers at bay. Deacon Medders, Garret Rukes and Davis Vainer combined to limit the opposition to only one unearned run.
In his first career start, Medders tossed four innings of scoreless baseball, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out three. Garret Rukes (2-1) followed for 3 1/3 scoreless frames of relief to earn his second win. The left-hander allowed just two hits while striking out a pair before handing it over to Vainer. The Tide closer earned his third save with 1 2/3 innings, allowing one unearned run and a hit while striking out three.
The Crimson Tide offense was led by Gene Wood’s perfect 3-for-3 night that included one a walk, an RBI, and one run scored. Another Tide multi-hit performance came from Hunter Alexander, who finished 2-for-4 with a double and a team-leading two RBI. Connor Short blasted his second home run against the Blazers.
In the bottom of the fouth inning, UAB was trailing 2-0, but a single and a walk to lead off the inning looked like the start of a rally. But a line drive to Chandler Avant ended it quickly. The shortstop made the catch for out one, stepped on second for out two, and threw to first for the triple play. It was Alabama’s first since March 14, 2014, against Kentucky.
"It feels good to get the win, especially on the road over a good UAB club,” said Alabama Coach Greg Goff. “I was really impressed with the poise our guys showed on the mound, and our bats added some really timely hitting.”
Alabama struck first, plating a run in the top of the second. Tanner DeVinny led off with a walk before Chandler Taylor moved him up a base with a single to right. Short put both runners in scoring position with a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt before a Wood single through the right side made it 1-0.
Short would increase the Alabama lead in the fourth, sending a two-out solo homer to left-center to make it 2-0.
The Tide plated one more in the top of the seventh, using a hit and an error to make it a 3-0 game. Wood led off the frame with a single, his third of the evening. Avant was safe on an error on his bunt attempt. Kyle Kaufman dropped a sacrifice bunt down to move both runners into scoring position and a Cobie Vance walk loaded the bases. With every base full, Alexander sent a fly to the warning track in right, just missing a home run, but serving scoring Wood on the sacrifice fly.
Alabama added to its lead in the ninth. A one-out single by Kaufman and a two-out double from Alexander made it 4-0.
UAB scored one unearned run in the bottom of the ninth to avoid the shutout, but Bama had the victory.