Bama bats come alive

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The Alabama Crimson Tide scored eight runs in the first two innings and cruised to a 9-3 win over No. 18 Southern Miss in front of a paid crowd of 4,611 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium on a chilly Wednesday night.

Alabama (11-4) slugged four home runs en route to its 11th straight win over Southern Miss, dating back to 1987. The Crimson Tide has also won nine straight home games against the Golden Eagles.

The two teams combined for 11 runs in the first two innings as the Crimson Tide built an 8-3 lead after two innings.

The early slugfest began in the bottom of the first inning as Alabama erupted for four runs on five consecutive hits to take a 4-0 lead.

Allen Rice started the rally with a single up the middle and Carlos Sosa's two-run home run to left field gave the Crimson Tide a 2-0 lead. Evan Bush doubled to left-center field and Zac Welch and Michael McCallister followed with back-to-back singles to make it a 4-0 game.

Southern Miss answered with three runs in the second inning to cut the UA lead to 4-3. Ryan Frith smashed a two-run home run to cut the lead in half and Matt Shepherd added an RBI groundout to make it a one-run game.

Alabama added four more runs in the bottom of the inning on a solo home run by Greg Paiml and a three-run homer by Welch. Paiml's solo blast to lead off the inning was his first career home run. Welch's blast to right field came on a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the inning.

"We put together some pretty good offense for the first two and one-half innings," Alabama head coach Jim Wells said.

"I thought the story after that was Brandon Belcher," Wells added. "He really pitched well against a very, very good team. Southern Miss is a really good hitting team. I thought he did a great job."

Belcher (1-1) earned his first collegiate win with 5 1/3 innings of scoreless, one-hit relief against the Golden Eagles. He replaced Matt Downs with two outs in the fourth inning and allowed only four base runners the remainder of the game. The Ruston, La., added three walks and four strikeouts in the win.

Nick Richardson's solo home run with one out in the fifth inning capped the scoring and extended the Alabama lead to 9-3.

The Golden Eagles managed only six hits in the loss, with two hits from left fielder Jason Lowery. USM shortstop Matt Shepherd, who entered the game with a .571 batting average, went 0-for-5 and saw his 12-game hitting streak come to an end.

Southern Miss (11-2) also saw its eight-game winning streak come to an end with the loss to Alabama.

USM starter Daniel Best (1-2) suffered the loss as he was tagged for five runs on six hits in just one inning of work.

Alabama returns to action this weekend as they host the SE Missouri State in a three-game series beginning Friday, Mar. 12 at 6:30 p.m. Southern Miss hosts Eastern Illinois this weekend in Hattiesburg.

Post-Game Notebook

  • Alabama head coach Jim Wells coached his 600th all-time game for the Crimson Tide on Wednesday night against Southern Miss.
  • Senior DH Carlos Sosa slugged his third home run of the season, a two-run home run to left field, in the bottom of the first inning. It was Sosa's first home run since Feb. 21, a span of 29 at-bats. Sosa also entered the game 1-for-15 in last four games at the plate.
  • Sophomore left fielder Evan Bush doubled in the bottom of the first inning to extend his hitting streak to a career best six consecutive games. During the streak, Bush is batting 8-for-18 (.000) for the Crimson Tide.
  • Southern Miss right fielder Ryan Frith smashed a two-run home run in the top of the second inning, his sixth of the season. The senior has homered in three straight games for USM. In addition, Frith's home run was the first allowed by Alabama in six games.
  • Southern Miss opponents have not played an errorless game this season. Alabama made only one error in the win over USM.
  • Freshman shortstop Greg Paiml slugged his first career home run to lead off the bottom of the second inning for the Crimson Tide. Prior to the at-bat, Paiml had been hitless in his last 17 at-bats and was just 1-for-28 this year as the starting shortstop.
  • Senior catcher Nick Richardson hit his first home of the season, a solo shot down the left field line with one out in the fifth inning.

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