Tide Baseball Gets Win in Series Opener

The 16th ranked University of Alabama baseball team used a pair of three-run innings to beat McNeese State 6-4 in the series opener Friday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium in Tuscaloosa.

Box Score:

The Crimson Tide scored three runs in the first inning and then added three runs in the seventh inning to take a four-run lead before holding off the Cowboys in the final two innings to post its fourth straight win.

Alabama (10-2) had 15 hits -- all singles -- in the Friday's win over McNeese, including three hits each by four different starters. Senior center fielder Emeel Salem, sophomore first baseman Alex Avila, sophomore right fielder Kent Matthes and junior designated hitter Matt Bentley all rapped out three hits in the win.

Clinging to a one-run lead, the Crimson Tide scored three runs on four straight two-out hits in the bottom of the seventh inning off McNeese State starter and losing pitcher Sam English to increase its lead to 6-2. UA also took advantage of two MSU errors in the decisive inning.

Avila started the two-out rally with a sharp single to center field. Matthes then followed with an infield single to put runners at first and second with two outs. Rhoden extended his hitting streak to nine games with a base hit to right-center to score Avila from second and chase Matthes to third. Matthes scored and Rhoden advanced to third base when Charlie Kingrey misplayed the ball in center field to give UA a 5-2 lead.

Bentley then greeted reliever John Ropp with a base hit to right field to score Rhoden to make it a 6-2 game. Bentley took second when Taylor Faul overran the ball in right field. Freshman third baseman Brandon May then walked against reliever Ryan Frantz before freshman catcher Jared Avchen grounded out to end the inning.

The three-run outburst was enough for sophomore left-hander Miers Quigley to earn his second win of the season with seven strong innings. The Roswell, Ga., native allowed two runs and two hits, with three walks and a career-high nine strikeouts.

McNeese State (2-11) cut the lead in half against senior right hander Patrick Kelly in the eighth inning on Cartie's two-run home run and had the tying run at the plate when Faul took a called third strike to end the inning and leave the score 6-4.

Junior right-hander Josh Copeland worked a scoreless ninth inning for his third save of the season.

Alabama jumped on McNeese State with three runs on four hits in the bottom of the first inning. Salem started the rally with a lead off single and then stole second base. Avila's sharp single up the middle scored Salem from second base, giving the senior at least one run scored in all 12 games this season.

Matthes singled to left to put runners at first and third and Rhoden's ground ball to second base scored Avila with the 2-0 lead. Bentley's single to left scored Matthes to cap the inning as the Crimson Tide built a 3-0 lead.

McNeese State got a run back in the fourth inning when Shon Landry tripled and scored on Bryan Cartie's sacrifice fly to cut the UA lead to 3-1. The Cowboys threatened in the sixth inning but could not score after loading the bases with two outs. David Leatherwood led off the inning and reached on a throwing error by shortstop Greg Paiml. Landry followed with a bunt single to put runners and first and second with no outs. Cartie popped up to short for the first out and Charlie Kingrey lined out to center for the second out, before Leatherwood and Landry stole second and third and Joe Hulett was hit by a pitch to load the bases, before Quigley struck out David Becker to end the inning and the threat.

McNeese State manufactured a run in the seventh inning to pull to within a run. Taylor Faul drew a leadoff walk and moved into scoring position on a balk by Quigley. After a wild pitch chased Paul to third, Jeramie Broussard's sacrifice fly to center trimmed the UA lead to 3-2. The two teams will resume this three-game series on Saturday at 4 p.m. (CST). Sophomore right-hander Casey Kebodeaux (3 GS, 1-0, 1.23 ERA) will start on the mound for Alabama. Senior left-hander Chris Denton (3 GS, 1-1, 3.93 ERA) will pitch for McNeese State.

GAME NOTES:

*Alabama had 15 hits - all singles - in Friday's win over McNeese State. In its last two games, Alabama has 35 hits, including 33 singles. Dating back to the Villanova series, Alabama has 63 hits in its last five games, including 58 singles.

*Four Alabama starters had three hits in the win over McNeese State, including senior center fielder Salem (3-for-4, R), Avila (3-for-5, 2 R, 1 RBI), Matthes (3-for-4, 2 R) and Bentley (3-for-4, 2 RBI).

*Salem (Mountain Brook) has scored at least one run in all 12 games this season. The last UA player to score a run in 12 straight games was G.W. Keller, who scored 19 runs in 12 consecutive games from May 7-29, 1999.

*Sophomore Ryan Rhoden (Tuscaloosa) extended his hitting streak to nine games with an RBI single in the seventh inning.

*Matthes had his 11-game RBI streak snapped in Friday's win.

*With three runs in the first inning, Alabama has outscored the opposition 13-1 in the first inning this season. The Crimson Tide owns a 51-4 scoring edge through the first four innings.

*Alabama added three more runs in the seventh inning and now owns a 28-4 scoring edge in the seventh inning this year.


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