Tide Gets Saturday Win

Behind an outstanding defensive effort, sophomore pitcher Casey Kebodeaux picked up his second win of the season, pitching eight innings of one-run baseball in Alabama's 9-1 win over McNeese State at Sewell-Thomas Stadium Saturday afternoon.

Box Score:

Alabama improved to 11-2 and Kebodeaux's win moved him to 2-0 on the season. McNeese dropped to 2-12. Alabama will go for the sweep Sunday with Bernard Robert on the mound with the first pitch set for 2 p.m. Chris Denton started and took the loss for McNeese.

"I pretty much had the change up working the whole way through the game," Kebodeaux said. "I wish I had my slider working a little more, but the change up saved me."

Freshman Jake Smith, who returned to the lineup as designated hitter after missing a week due to a strained knee ligament, hit a grand slam in the eighth inning to give the Tide a comfortable lead, which Tommy Hunter finished in the ninth retiring the side in order.

Smith was 3 for 5 with five RBIs in his return.

"It was nice to welcome Jake Smith back to the lineup," Wells said. "He was wearing a knee brace. He's 100 per cent with the knee brace but not without it yet."

After facing just three batters in the third through sixth inning while Bama built 5-1 lead, Kebodeaux pitched himself into a jam in the seventh by walking the first two batters and allowing a single by Brandon Beckler which loaded the bases with no outs. Kebodeaux struck out Thomas Zabasky and then Deron Minor hit a sharp grounder that Bama second baseman Jeff Tejada turned into an inning-ending double play to escape the trouble.

"Tejada made the play there with the bases loaded when Casey was in the most danger," Bama Coach Jim Wells said. "Casey could have finished the game, but we wanted to see Hunter pitch back-to-back days. We wanted to throw him today and tomorrow."

Alabama played crisp error-free defense, with several tough chargin pick-ups made by third baseman Brandon May, hawkish play in center field by Emeel Salem, the double play by Tejada, and a heads up play by Elvin Vargis in right field, throwing behind a McNeese hitter who had singled to right field but made too big of a turn at first.

"One of the key plays I remember was the one by Elvin Vargis," Kebodeaux said. "There were a lot of little plays that helped me out and that was the reason I was able to go so deep in the game."

Sophomore first baseman Alex Avila led the Crimson Tide's 14-hit performance with three hits, including a pair of doubles. May added a career high three hits.

GAME NOTES:

*Alabama extended its winning streak to a season-high five games today against McNeese State.

*Sophomore first baseman Alex Avila's (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) two-out double in the first inning snapped a streak of 21 consecutive singles by the UA offense, dating back to the fifth inning of the UAB game on Feb. 28. Avila went 3-for-5 and scored one run in the game to extend his hitting streak to five games. He has also scored in five straight games and reached base in eight straight games.

*Sophomore left fielder Kent Matthes (Orlando, Fla.) went 1-for-3 with two runs scored and one RBI in Saturday's win over McNeese State to extend his hitting streak to five games and his on-base streak to 13 consecutive games.

*Freshman third baseman Brandon May (Marietta, Ga.) had a career-high three hits in the win over McNeese State. He has reached base in nine of the 10 games he has played this season. He finished the game 3-for-3 with one RBI and one walk.

*Senior center fielder Emeel Salem (Mountain Brook) has scored a run in all 13 games this season. The 13-game streak is the longest in school history. Salem went 1-for-5 in Saturday's win and kept his streak alive with a run in the sixth inning.

*Freshman designated hitter Jake Smith (Shannon) returned to the lineup on Saturday after missing the last five games with a knee injury. Smith went 2-for-5 with two runs, one home run and five RBI, including his second home run of the season and first grand slam, in the eighth inning. He extended his hitting streak to six games with an RBI single in the fifth inning.

*Junior Elvin Vargas (New York, N.Y.) got the start in right field today and went 1-for-2 and scored a run to extend his hitting streak to three games.

*Sophomore Ryan Rhoden (Tuscaloosa) had his nine-game hitting streak snapped with an 0-for-4 game on Saturday.

*Sophomore Tommy Hunter (Indianapolis, Ind.) threw a perfect ninth inning and recorded one strikeout in his 12-pitch relief stint on Saturday.

*Alabama has scored in the first inning in seven of its first 13 games.


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