Baseball Wins

The Alabama baseball team got a big inning early in the game and a big game from senior catcher Kody Valverde (Baton Rouge, La.) en route to an 8-3 win over Appalachian State Saturday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

Kody Valverde, Alabama's catcher, supplied nearly all the Crimson Tide's offense by going 2-for-4 with a double and a career-high tying five RBI in the win.

He broke the game open with a three-run double over the head of right fielder Rand Smith to cap UA's five-run second inning. "With the bases loaded, I got a good pitch to hit," Valverde said. "I got a fastball and hit it away to right field. We worked on fastballs away in batting practice today. I just try and put the ball in play when I need to."

Valverde also put Alabama on the board with an infield ground out to score Emeel Salem from third base in the bottom of the first inning give the Tide a 1-0 lead.

Alabama (11-3) took all the drama out of the game with the five-run second inning, highlighted by Greg Paiml's two run triple to left-center and Valverde's three-run double over the head of right fielder Rand Smith for the 6-0 lead.

"We had one big inning and won the game," Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. "We have done that one other time this year. Valverde had some big hits and drove the ball to the right side, which is the mark of a good hitter."

The five-run inning was more than enough for Alabama starter Bernard Robert and the Alabama bullpen. Robert (2-0) worked seven innings and allowed two runs and six hits, with no walks and four strikeouts.

ASU starter Chad Antley (0-1) was charged with eight runs and six hits in 3 2/3 innings and took the loss.

The Mountaineers (5-2) scored a run in the top of the third inning when a Ben Billingsley ground out scored Nick DeRose.

The Crimson Tide added two more runs in the fourth to take an 8-1 lead. Downs, Bush and Valverde tallied three straight two-out singles, with Bush and Valverde collecting RBI singles.

Kevin Butler led off the seventh inning with a solo home run to cut the deficit to 8-2. ASU added another run in the eighth when Billingsley reached on a two-out double and scored on Isaac Harrow's base hit to left to cap the scoring.

ASU out hit Alabama 9-7 in the loss. DeRose and Joey Robinson had two hits each for the Mountaineers.

The two teams close out this three-game series with a 2 p.m. (CT) game Sunday. Alabama will send freshman right-hander Tommy Hunter (2-0, 0.63 ERA), while ASU will counter with freshman right hander Jason Rook (1-0, 0.00 ERA).

GAME NOTES:

*Alabama won its sixth straight game with its 8-3 win over Appalachian State.

*ASU dropped its second straight game on Saturday after bringing a four-game winning streak to Tuscaloosa this weekend.

*Freshman Kent Matthes (Orlando, Fla.) made his first collegiate start in left field. Senior David Ferazza (Hayward, Calif.) started for the first time this year at catcher. Senior Matt Downs (Centreville) started at first base and freshman Alex Avila (Hialeah, Fla.) made the start at third base.

*Valverde's five RBI matched his career high. He also had five RBI in a 10-2 win over Kent State on Feb. 17 and against Arkansas State in 2004. Valvede is UA's leading hitter this season with a .354 average. He also leads UA with five home runs and 21 RBI in 14 games.

*Salem extended his hitting streak to four games, the longest on the team with his first inning single. Salem is batting .400 (6-fof-12) during the current streak. He also added three stolen bases in the win and leads the SEC with 14 bags this season.


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