The 8th ranked Alabama Crimson Tide started slow, then used a seven run 7th inning, and seven no hit innings from senior Tucker Hawley to put away Jackson State 8-1 on Tuesday night. The win gives the Tide a record of 25-11, including a conference best 10-5 SEC record..
Jake Hubbard received his first start of the year, and only his second appearance of the season in the game. Hubbard, who underwent Tommy John surgery last March, pitched two good innings, allowing two hits and striking out three. Hawley came into pitch in the third, and went the rest of the way, allowing no hits, walking two and striking out one. Hawley was the winning pitcher, giving him a record of 3-1, while lowering his ERA of 0.68. The South Carolina native has now pitched 25 1/3 scoreless innings in a row.
Jackson State was staked to an early lead when second baseman Nick Marigny hit a line drive home run off of Hubbard in the second inning. Despite several chances 'Bama couldn't seem to punch the tying run across. The Tide couldn't capitalize in the third when Hunter Webb reached on a bunt single, and Georgie Salem also singled.
In the fifth Alabama had their best chance when Webb and Daniel Cucjen both had one out singles, followed by a walk to Mikey White to load the bases. Salem hit a pop up in foul territory that third baseman Melvin Rodriguez drifted back and fielded. Webb attempted to score on the short out, and he was easily thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
Meanwhile Hawley was cruising through the Jackson State line up, inning by inning. 'Bama was finally able to break through and tie the game. Ben Moore and Wade Wass both singled to start the inning. After a strikeout Casey Hughston hit a long double to right to score Moore. Moore and Wass were stranded to end the inning, tied at one. The seventh inning was the break through inning, as the Tide sent 11 players to the plate and scored seven runs. Cucjen and White started the rally with walks, and when Salem attempted a sacrifice bunt, he beat it out for a hit to load the bases with no outs. Moore stroked a first pitch grand slam over the left center field fence, increasing the lead to 5-1. Wass then doubled and scored on Chance Vincent's two out single. Webb walked, then Cucjen lined an RBI single. Webb later scored on a wild pick off throw to first, making the score 8-1, and ending the scoring for the night.
The only suspense left was if Hawley would ever allow a hit, and he didn't, retiring the last 14 batters he faced. In his final four innings Hawley threw six, six, eight and eight pitches in retiring JSU. In his seven stellar innings the big righty threw only 69 pitches.
Every starter for 'Bama had at least one hit, and five players had two. The 14 hits were the 19th double digit hit games for the team this season.
* Ben Moore was 2-5 with a grand slam and four RBIs and two runs scored
* Georgie Salem was 2-5 with a run scored
* Wade Wass was 2-4 with a run scored and hit team leading 13th double
* Daniel Cucjen was 2-3 with a walk, and RBI and a run scored
* Hunter Webb was 2-3 with a walk and a run scored
* Casey Hughston was 1-4 with a double and an RBI
* Chance Vincent was 1-4 with an RBI, running his hitting streak to nine games
* Mikey White was 1-3 with two walks and a run scored
* Kyle Overstreet was 1-4
The Tide has a quick turn around as they travel to Birmingham today (Wednesday) to play UAB at Regions Park at 6:30 p.m. Freshmen Geoffrey Bramblett will get the start on the mound, for the second time in a week vs the Blazers. Last Wednesday the Hoover native pitched 6 and 1/3 innings of three hit, one run ball against UAB, and did not figure in the decision. 'Bama has struggles against the Blazers lately, having a 2-7 record in the last nine games.
The mid week win gave the Tide a 19-5 home record this year, and improved to 25-1 when scoring at least three runs in a game. The pitching was outstanding, the defense flawless, and the 14 hits were a welcome sight. The team needs to take advantage of the scoring opportunities that they create in a more efficient manner. Continually leaving runners on base and hitting in to double plays will eventually catch up to the team. There is a lot of potential for this team to go far given their outstanding pitching and defense. A more efficient offense could make this team elite.
The Tide received good news, learning that first baseman Austen Smith did not have any broken bones in his wrist. Smith was hit by a pitch on Saturday against Auburn, and was unable to play Sunday. After a MRI and CT scan on Monday, a temporary cast was placed on his left wrist, and he should be cleared to play this weekend against Tennessee.The big senior has been named to the mid season Golden Spikes Award Watch List, given to the top amateur baseball player in America, and leads the Tide in several offensive categories.
If you are in the Birmingham area, come out tonight (Wednesday) and support this fine team.
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch It!
Roll Tide Y'all Roger
Remember to follow me on twitter @rogerpatmyers and/or Facebook (Roger Myers) for live, in game, inning by inning up dates. RTR