Bama withstands Cold; Kent State

Three Alabama pitchers combined for a six-hit shutout as the University of Alabama baseball team blanked Kent State 2-0 at a frozen Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Saturday evening.

Box Score

With wind chill in the mid 20s and winds gusting up to 35 miles per hour, Bernard Robert, Josh Copeland and David Robertson allowed just six hits in the Tide's first shutout since a 4-0 win over No. 4 LSU on April 1, 2005.

Kent State (0-2) had only two real chances to score in the game, but the most serious threat came in the ninth inning.

Drew Saylor led off the inning with a single to right-center field off Copeland. Alabama head coach Jim Wells then turned to Robertson with the game on the line.

Robertson got Kurt Eichorn to pop out to left field and then got Andrew Davis to foul to third baseman Matt Downs. Down to its last out, Kent State put two runners in scoring position when catcher Todd Balduf blooped a double in front of a diving Brandon Belcher in left field.

Robertson, who earned his first save of the season, then struck out Will Vazquez on three pitches to end the threat and the game.

Robert (1-0) picked up the win with 5 2/3 scoreless innings. He allowed three hits, walked three and struck out four en route to his first career win at Alabama. Copeland then blanked the Golden Flashes for the next 2 1/3 innings before turning the game over to Robertson.

"It's progression," Robert said. "I certainly pitched better today than last week. I have to get better each week and get ready for conference play."

Alabama (4-2) managed only five hits, but scored the only run it would need in the bottom of the third inning to take a 1-0 lead. Junior centerfielder Emeel Salem singled through the left side of the infield with two outs and came around to score on a stolen base and two wild pitches by Kent State starter and losing pitcher Steve Ross.

Ross (0-1) allowed two runs and four hits in five innings, with four walks, three strikeouts and three wild pitches.

The Crimson Tide doubled its lead in the fourth inning when freshman right fielder Ryan Rhoden (Tuscaloosa) reached on a leadoff double and moved around the bases on consecutive sacrifice bunts by senior first baseman Spencer Pennington (Fayette) and junior shortstop Greg Paiml (Hoover) to take a 2-0 lead.

Rhoden had two of the Crimson Tide's five hits and scored one of the two runs in the win over Kent State.

"It's hard to swing the bat when you can't feel your hands," Rhoden said. "This was the coldest game I have ever played in by far."

Alabama and Kent State will wrap up this three-game series at the Joe on Sunday at Noon. The game was moved up one hour late Saturday evening to accommodate KSU's travel plans.

GAME NOTES:

*Alabama recorded its first shutout since a 4-0 win over LSU on April 1, 2005.

*Robert earned his first career win for Alabama by throwing 5 2/3 shutout innings against Kent State.

*The Alabama pitching staff has allowed just one earned run in its last 34 innings on the mound. The Crimson Tide bullpen has not allowed an earned run in its last 21 innings pitched.

*Senior catcher Kody Valverde (Baton Rouge, La.) has hit safely in four of his six games this season as he doubled to lead off the second inning. Five of his seven hits this season have been extra base hits.

*Salem has hit safely in all six games this season and in 10 consecutive games dating back to the 2005 season.


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