No Sweat in Bama Sweep

Alabama baseball braved near-freezing weather Saturday, but dispatched of Georgia State easily in a doubleheader to win its first two games of the season.

Alabama's season opener was postponed by one day due to rain and cold in Tuscaloosa Friday night, but the Crimson Tide got underway in good fashion with two wins in a doubleheader against Georgia State at Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Saturday.

Alabama won 12-3 in game one of the three-game series, and earned a 7-0 shutout victory in the second game of the series.

The Crimson Tide will go for the series sweep Sunday at 2 p.m.

Game One -- Alabama 12, Georgia State 3

Freshman third baseman Jake Smith had a debut to remember for the University of Alabama baseball team in the Crimson Tide's 12-3 win over Georgia State University in the season opener for both teams.

Smith, a two-time All-State performer at Hueytown High School, had two hits and three RBI in his first collegiate game at Alabama. He had an RBI single in the first inning and smashed UA's first home run of the season in the fourth inning.

Senior shortstop Greg Paiml added three hits and three RBI in the win over GSU. Paiml had two hits and two RBI in UA's five-run seventh inning, including a solo home run.

The Crimson Tide had 14 hits in the win over the Panthers, including at least one hit from seven of the nine starters.

Alabama (1-0) took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning in game on back-to-back RBI singles by sophomore right fielder Kent Matthes and Smith.

The Crimson Tide tacked on three more runs in the fourth inning to take a 5-0 lead. Smith started the rally with his first collegiate home run off the new video board in left-center field to give the Crimson Tide a 3-0 lead.

Sophomore catcher Ryan Rhoden followed with a base hit to left and junior first baseman Matt Bentley doubled into the left field corner. Rhoden scored on senior left fielder Brandon Belcher's sacrifce fly and Bentley crossed the plate on senior shortstop Greg Piaml's two-out RBI single to left.

The five-run lead was more than enough for sophomore right-hander Tommy Hunter who threw six scoreless innings in his 2007 debut. Hunter limited the Panthers to six singles, walked one and struck out five in the win.

GSU left-hander Bobby Bennett was charged with the loss after allowing five runs and eight hits in six innings on the mound. He walked two and struck out five.

The Crimson Tide batted around in the seventh inning and scored five runs on five hits against three different GSU relievers. Paiml had two hits and two RBI in the inning, including a lead off home run off right-hander Dustin Carder. Matthes added an RBI single, Smith collected his third RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly and pinch-hitter Tyler Odle drew a bases-loaded walk as Alabama took a 10-0 lead.

Sophomore second baseman Jeff Texada ripped a two-run home run in the eighth inning to give Alabama a 12-0 lead. It was Texada's first career home run.

GSU avoided the shutout with three unearned runs off junior right-hand Josh Copeland. Pinch-hitter Logan Sharrett and second baseman Jean-Michel Rincon-Salvas each had an RBI single as the Panthers took advanatge of two Alabama errors in the inning. Salvas finished the game with four hits and one RBI.

Game Two -- Alabama 7, Georgia State 0

Alabama (2-0) kept the offense going in the nightcap as the Crimson Tide added nine hits, including five extra base hits, en route to a 7-0 win to complete the double header sweep.

Like game one, Alabama scored twice in the first inning to take a 2-0 lead. Texada gave Alabama a 1-0 lead with an RBI single up the middle to score Emeel Salem. Matthes followed with an RBI single to right to score Texada and give Bama a two-run lead.

Alabama scored four runs in the bottom of the third inning to take a 6-0 lead. Matthes started the scoring with an RBI single to center to score Alex Avila from third base. Matthes stole second and third and later scored on a passed ball by catcher Luke Gordon as UA took a 4-0 lead.

Rhoden's RBI ground out produced another run and Paiml capped the inning with an RBI triple to center field to score freshman Jared Avchen to make it a 6-0 game after three innings.

The Crimson Tide also got another solid outing from its starting pitcher in game two as senior left-hander Brandon Belcher threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings before leaving the game with some "soreness" in the sixth inning. The injury is not serious.

Belcher (1-0) held the Panthers to just one hit, struck out six and faced just one batter over the minimum in his first game back on the mound since undergoing "Tommy John" surgery in 2005.

Will Palmer (0-1) took the loss for GSU as he was charged with six runs and seven hits in five innings.

Sophomore first baseman Alex Avila capped the scoring in the night cap with a solo home run to right field to make the final 7-0.

Georgia State (0-2) managed only two hits in the nightcap on singles by Luke Gordon and Charlie Pelt.


*Alabama improved to 73-39-1 all-time in season openers following its 12-3 win over Georgia State in game one of Saturday's double header.

*Alabama stroked three home runs in the 2007 season, equaling the most on opening day in the Jim Wells era. The Crimson Tide also hit three opening day home runs in 1997 and 2001. Bama hit four home runs in the two wins over Georgia State.

*Alabama players making their Crimson Tide debuts on Saturday were freshmen Jared Avchen, Mike Meschke and Jake Smith and junior Will Stroup. Smith started both games of the double header at third base. Stroup threw two scoreless innings in game one, while Meschke was used as a pinch-hitter in the opener. Avchen was the starting catcher in game two in his first starting assignment for the Crimson Tide.

*Sophomore right-hander Tommy Hunter (Indianapolis, Ind.) threw six scoreless innings in his 2007 debut on the mound. He allowed six hits, walked one and struck out six to improve to 11-3 in his career on the mound for the Crimson Tide.

*Freshman third baseman Jake Smith (Shannon, Ala.) recorded an RBI single in his first career at-bat in the bottom of the first inning. Smith hit his first collegiate home run in his next at-bat to give the Crimson Tide a three-run lead in the fourth inning. Smith was 2-for-3 in his UA debut with one home run and three RBI.

*Sophomore second baseman Jeff Texada (New Iberia, La.) was 3-for-5 with one home run and two RBI in the Crimson Tide's 12-3 win. His two-run home run in the eighth inning of game one was his first career home run.

*Senior left-hander Brandon Belcher (Ruston, La.) made his first start on the mound since May 21, 2005. Belcher missed the entire 2006 season after having "Tommy John" surgery in June, 2005. Belcher was 5-0 on the mound as a sophomore before the injury. He played 62 games last year as the Tide's starting left fielder and batted .259 with three home runs and 15 RBI.

*Belcher threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings and allowed only one hit before leaving the game with an apparent injury in the sixth inning. He did not walk a batter and struck out six batters. He faced just one batter on the minimum and retired the final 12 batters he faced. He struck out the side in the fifth inning.

*Hunter and Belcher combined for 11 2/3 scoreless innings in the double header and held the Panthers to seven singles. The duo also combined for 11 strikeouts and walked one batter.

*Sophomore right-hander Austin Hyatt (Marietta, Ga.) made his first appearance on the mound for Alabama since April 20, 2005 against Mississippi Valley State. Hyatt redshirted last year at Alabama. In game two appearance against GSU, Hyatt worked 3 1/3 scoreless innings and allowed one hit and struck out six batters en route to his first career save.

*The paid attendance for Saturday's twinbill was 4,499 fans.

*Alabama and Georgia State wrap up this three-game series with a 2 p.m. (CST) game on Sunday, Feb. 11 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

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