Tide mashes Minutemen

TUSCALOOSA -- Senior right fielder Beau Hearod went 4-for-4 with a career-high seven RBI, including his fourth career grand slam, to lead the No. 24 University of Alabama baseball team to a 12-0 victory over the UMass Minutemen Sunday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

Alabama (12-3) won its fourth straight game and posted its second shutout of the 2003 season.

"I thought we played well again today," Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. "We scored a lot of runs early and then after the big inning, we did not lose our concentration. It was a complete game for us today.

The Crimson Tide offense scored at least one run in each of the first five innings, while the defense did not make an error.

Sophomore left-hander Jeffrey Norris and junior lefty Ryan Beagle, making his first appearance since Feb. 19, combined for the shutout victory.

Norris (2-1) scattered seven hits in seven scoreless innings and matched his career high with eight strikeouts. Beagle worked the final two innings, allowing one hit, one walk and added two strikeouts.

Hearod had a double, two singles and one home run on Sunday to pace the Crimson Tide's 14-hit attack. Hearod's four hits fell one shy of the single-game Alabama record and missed hitting for the cycle by a triple.

The seven RBI matched his career high set March 10, 2001 against Vanderbilt here at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

The Jennings, La., native put the Crimson Tide on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first inning with a two-run double to score Grant Redding and Adam Pavkovich. Redding reached on an error by third baseman Adam Stojanowski and Pavkovich singled to right field, putting runners at first and third.

Alabama extended its lead to 3-0 in the second inning when Allen Rice hit his second home run of the season over the wall in right field.

Hearod reached on an infield single in the third inning and later scored on a passed ball by UMass catcher Tom Ellerbrook.

The Crimson Tide put the game out of reach, scoring six runs on five hits in the fourth inning, highlighted by Hearod's second grand slam of the season and fourth of his career.

Freshman Brandon Avalos, making his first start of the season, reached on a one-out infield single to start the UA offense. Rice was the hit by a pitch. Redding followed with an RBI single to left field, scoring Avalos and sending Rice to third base. Redding moved to second when left fielder Kristian Molloy bobbled the ball.

Pavkovich walked to load the bases, bringing Hearod to the plate. The senior then launched a 2-2 pitch over the wall in left field to give Alabama a 9-0 lead. Hearod's grand slam chased UMass starter Keith Doherty (0-1), who was charged with the loss.

Doherty allowed nine runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings against Alabama. He added four strikeouts and walked one batter.

Sophomore first baseman Zac Welch hit his second home run of the season in the inning to give the Crimson Tide a 10-0 lead after four innings.

Welch's solo home run in the fourth inning extended three hefty streaks for the Wellington, Ala., native. The sophomore has hit safely in all 13 games he has played this season for Alabama. In addition, he has a seven-game RBI streak and has scored at least one run in 10 straight games, all career highs.

Alabama closed out the scoring in the fifth inning with two more runs. Junior Shaud Williams reached on an infield hit and later scored on Heaod's fourth hit and seventh RBI of the game.

Al Hecklinkski singled to right field to score Hearod from second base with the final run of the game.

Pavkovich was the only UA player other than Hearod with more than one hit Sunday afternoon. The Venice, Fla.., native extended his hitting streak to 11 games. Redding has a six-game hitting streak.

UMass (0-3) managed only eight hits, including seven singles in the loss. Mike Athas and Adam Stojanowski had two hits each to pace the Minutemen.

Alabama returns to action Wednesday, March 12 when they host the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at 6:30 p.m. here at the Joe. The Crimson Tide opens Southeastern Conference play next weekend as they host the Georgia Bulldogs in a three-game series, beginning Friday, March 14 at 6:30 p.m.

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