The Crimson Tide's opening round regional game against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks started three hours late due to two rain delays in the Tuscaloosa regional's early game (Troy beat Southern Miss 10-8), but the Alabama fans that stuck around were rewarded with a dominating performance. Coach Jim Wells was surely pleased after the Tide's lackluster performance in the SEC Tournament last week.
After three scoreless innings, Jacksonville State took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning via a solo homer from Jason Horn.
The Tide were quick to respond though in the bottom of the fourth when SS Greg Paiml drove in the tying run (Paiml finished 4-4, 2R, 1RBI). It is no surprise though that the winning run was knocked in by Alabama standout Emeel Salem (3-5, 1R, 4 RBI) who tripled to drive in two runs.
Wade Leblanc improved to 11-0 on the year.
It was all downhill from the fourth inning on for the Gamecocks as they were shut out by the excellent pitching of Wade Leblanc (11-0), who struck out eight batters in 7 & 2/3 innings. Leblanc now owns the single season strikeout record for Alabama (124.)
The Crimson Tide went on to score 10 runs in the next four innings. Catcher Kody Valverde had a memorable night as well. He hit a grand slam in the sixth inning that put the game out of reach. Valverde finished the evening 3-4 with three runs and four RBIs.
Very little went right for the Gamecocks as they committed four errors, walked two runs in on bases loaded situations, gave up four unearned runs and failed to strike out a single Alabama batter.
Alabama will face Troy on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. The 2:30 p.m. game will see Southern Miss face off against Jacksonville State in an elimination game.