Alabama went on the road on a roll, and continued that roll by sweeping the Georgia Bulldogs in a three-game series this weekend. The sweep was the first road SEC series sweep since defeating Tennessee in three games to end the 2010 season. The Tide's record now stands at 16-9, 5-1 in the SEC.
Friday's 6-3 victory was led by stellar pitching from starter Charley Sullivan, who took the victory, and freshman phenom reliever Ray Castillo, who secured the save. Sullivan went six strong innings, allowing four hits, two walks, striking out five and allowing only one run. Justin Kamplian pitched 1 and 2/3 innings before giving way to Castillo to seal the victory.
Offensively 'Bama was led by the red hot freshman Kyle Overstreet who was 3-4 with a walk and two runs scored. Fellow freshman star Mikey White drove in three runs with a 2-4 night. Kenny Roberts was 2-3 with a walk and hit by pitch, scoring two runs. Ben Moore had a 2-5 game, Brett Booth and Austen Smith added singles. DH Cameron Carlisle continued to have productive at bats drawing two walks and laying down a perfect sacrifice bunt to put two runners in scoring position.
Sullivan started slowly, allowing singles to each of the first three batters in the first inning. However he escaped with only one run scored after a double play, started by third baseman Roberts, and a fly out. Once again, as it is apt to, the Tide found themselves behind. However the deficit was short lived as 'Bama struck for two in the fourth inning. Smith led off with a single, followed by Overstreet's single. Carlisle moved them each up 90 feet with his sacrifice bunt. White then singled to score Smith and Overstreet game in on an error on the hit. 'Bama put the game away in the fifth with three runs. Roberts and Booth singled, and Smith drove in Roberts with a fielders choice, forcing Booth at second. Overstreet singled again and Carlisle walked. White then drilled a single, scoring two runs. In the sixth Roberts singled and scored the Tide's last run of the night.
After an uneventful seventh inning, Kamplain ran into trouble in the eighth allowing two runs before Castillo came in with two outs. With the bases loaded Castillo induced a ground ball to first to end the inning, then pitched a one-two-three ninth inning.
Going for the series victory on Saturday, the Tide trotted lefty Jon Keller to the mound. In a game televised by CSS, Keller was up to the task, Keller pitched 6 and 1/3 innings, allowing six hits, striking out four and allowing only one run. Freshman Keaton Haack pitched the final 2 and 2/3 innings to gain his first save in the 6-3 Crimson Tide victory.
The Tide once again fell behind 1-0 early as Georgia scored on two singles and a sacrifice fly in the second. 'Bama answered with three in the fourth. Moore reached on an error and was followed by a single by Booth. Smith sacrificed to advance the runners. After Overstreet walked, Carlisle lined a two run single, followed by an RBI single from White. Alabama added to the lead in the sixth in a most unorthodox way, using tricky base running by two of their, shall we say, least fast players. Booth singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Smith grounded to shortstop and Booth got caught in a run down. Motioning for Smith to continue to second, Booth avoided a tag by diving under it, and crawled safely to third and when he noticed the catcher behind third base, and no one covering the plate, he sprinted in to score. When Overstreet singled, Smith started home and stopped, turned and headed back to third. The catchers throw went wild and Smith scored. 'Bama's last run came in the seventh when Salem singled, stole second, and scored on Moore's single.
Salem made an ESPN worthy play on a fly ball in the sixth, running several yards and diving to make a circus catch before flipping to his feet. The play was deemed third best play of the day by ESPN. Georgia threatened in the ninth and cut the lead to three runs before Haack ended the game on comebacker to the mound.
Overstreet was 2-2 with two walks, Booth 2-4 with two runs scored, Carlisle 1-3 with two RBIs, White 1-4 with an RBI, Moore 1-4 with an RBI, Smith was 1-4 with a double, and Salem 1-5 with a stolen base and run scored. The nine hits by 'Bama broke a streak of six straight games with double digit hits.
Spencer Turnbull took the mound to try to gain the sweep for Alabama on Sunday. Turnbull turned in his best performance of the season by pitching seven shutout innings. Turnbull allowed five hits, two walks and struck out five. Castillo pitched the final two innings to gain his fourth save of the season. The final score was 3-0.
The Tide scored the only run they would need in the third inning when Salem singled and scored on Moore's single. Salem also scored an insurance run in the fifth after his single and stolen base. Roberts single scored Salem. The eighth inning gave the Tide their final run of the weekend. Overstreet tripled and scored on a wild pitch. Roberts lead the way with a 3-4 game, also reaching on a hit by pitch. Salem was 2-5 with two runs scored and a stolen base. Moore was 2-5 with an RBI. White was 2-3 with a walk, and Overstreet had his triple. The 11 hits gave 'Bama seven out of eight games with 10 hits or more, and raised the team average to .263.
Overstreet led the offense with a 6-10 weekend. Roberts hit 5-10,White 5-11 and Moore 5-14. Defense was outstanding all weekend, turning three more double plays. Booth continued his outstanding year by throwing out number 19 and 20 runners trying to steal. Overstreet made several great plays at second base and Salem was a walking high light reel in center field.
'Bama enters the week on a six game winning streak, and has won eight of their last nine games, having outscored opponents 73-29 over that nine game stretch. Booth continues to lead the Tide with a .325 batting average, despite his 11 game hitting streak being broken on Sunday. Moore is at .304,Roberts .295, Smith .286,Salem .283 and Overstreet .279. Moore and Overstreet have both driven in 19, Booth 17, Salem 15 and Smith and White 14 each. Tucker Hawley leads the team with four victories, and Castillo leads with four saves.
The schedule is front loaded favorably for the Tide, as Tennessee, Georgia and Auburn are some of the few SEC teams that are not ranked in national polls. To be 5-1 in the conference at this point is very much needed. The young team can build confidence as they head into the meat of the schedule. Continuing to win games you are supposed to win, and find a way to steal some others along the way will go a long way toward letting the team meet their goals.
This team is exciting to watch and will not give up. They are built for the future with all the young guns, but are performing in the present.
Alabama travels to The Hoover Met Tuesday to play UAB in a game starting at 6:30 p.m. The weekend series is at rival Auburn, but is being played on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Thursday's and Friday's first pitch is at 6:00 p.m. and Saturday is the CSS game at 3:00 p.m. All times listed are CST.
Bama Baseball Fever, catch it!
Roll Tide Y'all