Tide takes season-opening win

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.- The University of Alabama baseball team opened the 2002 with its school-record ninth straight opening day win, posting a 4-0 victory over Louisiana Tech Tuesday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

Alabama (1-0) has won every season opener since 1994, including all eight under Coach Jim Wells. The previous record was eight straight opening day wins set from 1901-08. The game also marked the Crimson Tide's ninth straight home opener, also a school record.

The shutout was the first by Alabama in its season opener since blanking New Orleans (3-0) in the first round of the 1994 Winn Dixie Showdown at the Louisiana Superdome.

Senior right-hander Lance Cormier (Lafayette, La.) won his third straight opening day game, an Alabama record, by tossing seven scoreless innings. Cormier, who led the SEC with a 2.30 ERA last year, limited the Bulldogs to four hits. He threw a five-hit shutout last year against Oklahoma. In addition, Cormier fanned seven and walked one Tech batter.

Cormier, a 10th round pick by the Houston Astros, returned to Alabama for his senior season and improved his opening day record to 3-0 with one save in four career appearances. In 24 innings of work, Cormier did not allow an earned run in his UA career on opening day.

"Cormier pitched very well," Coach Wells added. "He gave us what we needed trying to get seven innings. He did his job tonight and had a great performance. I am equally proud of the guys out of the pen to keep the zero on the scoreboard. (Shane) Sanders (Cullman, Ala.) and (Brian) Reed did a good job and threw strikes."

Tech (5-2) put two runners on base against Cormier with two outs in the second inning, but could not score. The Bulldogs loaded the bases with one out in the third and also failed to score. Their only other threat came in the eighth off Sanders, but the right hander stranded runners at second and third by striking out Kyle Humphreys.

Alabama scored its first two runs of the season to take a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning. Freshman Zac Welch (Wellington, Ala.) drew a lead of walk and moved to second on Adam Pavkovich's (Venice, Fla.) sacrifice bunt. After a walk to Travis Garner (Sturgis, Miss.), sophomore Peter Stonard (Clayton, Mo.) laced a double down the left field line, scoring Welch and moving Garner to third base. Brent Boyd (Ft. Worth, Texas) grounded out to score Garner from third to give Alabama a 2-0 lead. Stonard also had the first hit and RBI for Alabama last year in a 10-8 win over Oklahoma in the 2001 season opener.

The Crimson Tide added to its lead with single runs in the fourth and fifth innings. Senior Scott McClanahan (Hartselle, Ala.) lead off with a double down the left field line and later scored on Pavkovich's sacrifice fly to give UA a 3-0 lead. In the fourth, Boyd led off and benefited from two Tech errors to reach third base. First baseman Kyle Humphreys dropped a pop fly and second baseman Mike Hall over threw the shortstop, sending Boyd to third. Beau Hearod's (Jennings, La.) sacrifice fly and gave Alabama a 4-0 lead.

Alabama will host Georgia Southern in a three-game series this weekend at Sewell-Thomas Stadium, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Friday. The teams will also meet Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

BamaMag Top Stories