The young Alabama baseball team went on the road this weekend and did something the 2012 version of the Tide could not do, win a road series, defeating Florida Atlantic University 2 games to 1 in Boca Raton Florida. This is the same FAU that came to Tuscaloosa and swept 'Bama to start 2012 season. The 2012 'Bama team was 3-19 away from home including 0-15 in South Eastern Conference action. Alabama won the first two games before losing 3-0 on Sunday to the Owls.
In Friday night's 5-2 victory 'Bama was led by freshman Georgie Salem's three hits, run, RBI and stolen base. Senior Kenny Roberts stroked two hits, drove in a run, and added a walk and stolen base. Ben Moore drove in a run with a single and added a walk. Austen Smith had his first hit of the season and one RBI. After falling behind 2-0, 'Bama fought back with one run in the third, and one in the seventh, on Smith's clutch two out single. The three run eighth inning was highlighted by Moore's bases loaded smash off of the right field wall, for a long single. Ryan Blanchard also had a walk and stolen base.
Senior right-hander Charley Sullivan gave the Tide a very good five inning start, allowing five hits and striking out six while not walking any. The two runs he allowed were unearned. Junior righty Tucker Hawley earned his second victory of the year, pitching two sharp innings. Freshman right-hander Keaton Haack threw 1 and 1/3 effective innings. Sophomore right-hander Jake Hubbard got the save with 2/3 inning by enticing a ground ball that the dynamic duo of shortstop White and second baseman Kyle Overstreet turned into a twin killing. The Tide turned eight double plays on the weekend.
Saturday's game two win was a gut wrenching 4-2 victory. Salem's three hits, RBI, walk and run once again lead the way. Senior catcher Brett Booth drove in two runs with a single and added a stolen base. Smith was 2-3 with a walk, and is showing signs of coming around. Roberts had a hit and another RBI, as did Blanchard. White added a single and run scored.
Sophomore lefty Jon Keller also earned his second victory of the year, pitching six solid innings, allowing five hits with three walks and five strikeouts. The only run he allowed was unearned. Freshman right-hander Ray Castillo got a three inning save with a gutsy performance. After loading the bases with no outs in the ninth inning, Castillo bared down, allowing only a sacrifice fly that cut the lead to 4-2. Facing the winning run twice he allowed a fly out and then punctuated the win with a called third strike. Castillo has outstanding stuff and a great make up, seemingly not bothered by tough situations.
Sunday the Tide ran into a spectacular pitching job by Jeremy Strawn, who pitched eight innings and allowed only four harmless singles and did not walk a batter. Sophomore right-hander Spencer Turnbull started for 'Bama and pitched six efficient innings, allowing eight hits, one walk, two strikeouts and three runs, all earned. Hubbard relieved in the seventh and went 1 2/3 innings, walking three allowing no hits or runs. Sophomore left-hander Justin Kamplain recorded the final out.
'Bama could not get anything going offensively, having only four base runners all game, and never more than one in an inning. Seven Tide batters struck out and none earned a walk. Salem, Overstreet, Blanchard and Booth all had singles for the Crimson Tide.
For the weekend Alabama had great pitching and defense, and until Sunday's game, opportunistic offense. All 20 hits the Tide had for the weekend were singles.
Salem led the way finishing 7-13 over the three-game series. Roberts and Smith were each 3-10.Booth was 2-11 and Blanchard was 2-10. No other Tidester had more than one hit.
The double plays keep piling up for the defense with White and Overstreet playing well beyond their years. Roberts has been outstanding at third base and Booth, at catcher, is playing Gold Glove quality, throwing out three base runners attempting to steal this weekend. The arms out of the bullpen have been incredible and the starting pitching is coming around. Once Moore and Smith heat up and injured catcher-DH Wade Wass come back, the offense should improve and show more power.
A 6-1 start definitely trumps last season's 3-4 record after seven games, and is reason for optimism. This is a young, exciting team that plays hard and plays the game the right way.
'Bama is back in action Tuesday at 6:05 p.m. hosting Samford at The Joe. Tulane comes to town Friday, Saturday and Sunday for a three-game series. Friday's first pitch is at 6:05 p.m., Saturday's at 2:05 p.m. and Sunday's is at 1:05 p.m.
Expect sophomore left-hander Taylor Guilbeau to start on the mound Tuesday, and some combination of Sullivan, Keller and Turnbull for the weekend.
Let's come out and get behind this young team as they battle to bring the glory back to Alabama Baseball.