Pitching dominates vs. Rhode Island

TUSCALOOSA -- For the second time in three games, the University of Alabama pitching combined on a three-hitter in the Crimson Tide's 9-1 win over the University of Rhode Island Saturday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

Sophomore left hander Brent Carter turned in his second straight stellar performance, limiting the Rams to one unearned run and two singles in seven inning of work. The Americus, Ga., native added six strikeouts, one walk and hit one batter.

Carter allowed a first-inning single to Dan Batz and a seventh-inning single to Matt Sullivan. The Rams managed only four base runners against the lefty. He threw 97 pitches, including 67 strikes.

Freshman right-hander Allen Ponder struck out the side in the eighth inning, allowing one infield hit. Senior right-hander Brian Reed worked a perfect ninth inning for the Crimson Tide.

"Carter pitched well again," Alabama coach Jim Wells said following the Crimson Tide's fifth straight win. "He threw a lot of strikes again today and did another good job. We needed to pitch Ponder and Reed and we can use them again tomorrow. The pitching today was good."

It was just the opposite for the Rams pitching staff, who struggled after the first five innings.

Sophomore left-hander Mike Harris yielded five earned runs and eight hits in six innings of work. Harris walked two and struck out three. He carried a shutout into the fourth inning before losing his control in the middle three innings.

Harris (0-2) hit five Alabama batters in the game and uncorked two wild pitches.

In all, Rhode Island pitchers hit seven Alabama batters in the game to establish a single-game record for the Crimson Tide. Prior to Saturday, the UA single-game record for hit batters in a game was four set against Morehead State (Feb. 18, 1992) and Houston (Feb. 13, 1998).

Allen Rice and Al Hecklinski were hit two times each, while Zac Welch, Adam Pavkovich and Gabe Scott were hit once each. All three URI pitchers had at least one hit batter.

Alabama (8-2) broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth inning with one run off sophomore left-hander Mike Harris. Senior right fielder Beau Hearod doubled down the right field line to open the inning and scored one batter later on Hecklinski's single to right field and an error by John Maloney.

The Crimson Tide then loaded the bases with no outs, but could not score a run as Harris retired the next three batters in order to escape the jam.

Rhode Island (0-5) tied the game with an unearned run off Carter in the top of the fifth inning. Maloney was hit by a pitch, stole second base and moved to third on a throwing error by catcher Charlie Lyons. Two batters later, first baseman Reese Wasson grounded out to short, scoring Maloney from third.

Alabama reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the inning on Hecklinski's two-out, two-run home run to left center field. Pavkovich opened the inning with a walk and moved to third on a ground out and fly out to right, before Hecklinski crushed his second home of the season. With the home run, Alabama has now homered in five consecutive games.

The Crimson Tide extended its lead to 5-1 in the sixth inning as Rice and Pavkovich were hit by a pitch and later scored. Rice came home on a wild pitch and Pavkovich scored on Brad Van Winkle's RBI single to right field.

Alabama iced the game with a four-run seventh inning, ignited by a leadoff home run by Hearod. It was his sixth home run of the season to go along with 22 RBI, both figures lead the Alabama team.

Hecklinksi was hit by pitch following the home run and later scored on Zac Welch's double into the left field corner. Welch later scored on a infield ground out by Rice and Travis Garner's RBi single to center plated Rice with the final run of the game.

Alabama left the bases loaded again in the eighth inning and stranded 12 base runners in the game.

Three Alabama players extended lengthy hitting streaks in the win Saturday. Welch extended his career-best hitting streak to a team-high eight games. Hearod and Pavkovich have now hit safely in six straight games. Hearod also has an RBI in six straight games for UA.

In addition to Hearod, Hecklinski and Welch added two hits each for Alabama in the win.

The two teams will conclude this three-game series Sunday at 12:30 p.m. The game was moved up 30 minutes to assist with Rhode Island's travel plans.

Also Sunday's game will not be carried by the Crimson Tide Sports Network, due to conflicts with both men's and women's basketball games. The game will be aired by student station WVUA-FM (90.7) and can be heard on the internet at www.newrock907.com

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