"Bama won the series vs Texas A@M but lost a golden chance for a sweep after Sunday's game was called due to rain with the Tide holding a 4-0 in the bottom of the first inning. The team's record is now 27-18 overall and 11-9 in the SEC.
The Tide rode strong starting pitching, spectacular relief pitching and just enough early offense to victories on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Friday night starter Charley Sullivan tossed seven strong innings, allowing six hits, walking two and striking out three and allowing two runs. Sullivan's roommate Tucker Hawley pitched a crisp eighth inning, allowing only a walk, and from there freshman closer Ray Castillo collected his seventh save in seven chances by pitching the ninth inning.
'Bama struck early scoring twice in the first inning. Kenny Roberts lead off with a single and with two outs Ben Moore blasted a mammoth drive off the score board in left center field for a two run home run. Brett Booth lead off the second inning with a laser shot that barely got as high as the fence, but made it over for a solo home run. From there Aggie starting pitcher Daniel Mengden settled down allowing only a Georgie Salem third inning single, two walks, and one hit batter in completing seven innings. Mengden came into the game with a 4-2 record and a 2.04 ERA.
Texas A@M finally broke through against Sullivan in the sixth, when with two outs they strung together singles by Cole Lankford and Troy Stein and a two run double by Hunter Melton. Sullivan then retired Brandon Wood on a fly ball to left fielder Andrew Miller. Hawley pitched the eighth and Castillo shut the door once again, walking the leadoff batter, but inducing Wood to hit into a double play, started by third baseman Roberts, to Kyle Overstreet to Chance Vincent.
Moore and Booth's home runs lead the offense. Roberts lead off hit and Salem's two singles were the only other hits for the Tide. The 3-2 victory was 'Bama's third one run win of the year.
Saturday's second game was moved from a 6:00 p.m. start to 2:00 p.m. to try to get ahead of expected rain showers. Sophomore Justin Kamplain drew the starting assignment for the Tide, and pitched brilliantly. Kamplain had his longest outing of his career, pitching 7 and 1/3 innings, allowing five hits, with one walk, five strikeout and two runs, both earned. The lefty threw 112 pitches on the day.
Once again 'Bama jumped out early, scoring once in the third and twice in the fourth. Mikey White lead off the third with a double was sacrificed to third by Miller and scored on Roberts double into the left field corner. Overstreet lead off the bottom of the fourth with a single, followed by Moore's double. Austen Smith scored Overstreet with a ground ball to the shortstop, and White scored Moore with a ground ball of his own. From their 'Bama did not record another safety until Overstreet and Moore had two out singles in the eighth inning.
Kamplain cruised thru seven innings, having allowed only three hits with no walks and five strikeouts to that point. Surprisingly Kamplain trotted out to start the eighth, and walked the leadoff man. Wood then flied out to Miller, but Jonathan Moroney singles and Mitchell Nau doubled both home before Keaton Haack relieved Kamplian. With the tying run at second base Haack recorded two strikeouts to end the inning. Mr. Automatic, Castillo, came on in the ninth and claimed his eighth save in eight chances. Castillo walked one and struck out one in clinching the 3-2 victory.
'Bama turned two double plays, and Booth threw out two more runners attempting to steal, his 33rd and 34th victims of the year. Kamplain also picked a runner off of first base.
Sunday the Tide was poised for the much needed sweep, but was derailed by the weather. The 1:05 start time was pushed back to 2 p.m., despite no rain falling at that time. Spencer Turnbull started on the mound for 'Bama and pitched a 1-2-3 top of the first. Roberts started the Tide off with a single, and with one out Overstreet followed with a single of his own. Austen Smith guided a two out single thru the left side to plate two runs. Booth then lifted a high fly ball to right, that wrapped around the foul pole and would have been the Tide's first opposite field home run of the season if the game would have become official. Unfortunately the rain then came and after two-hour and 10-minute delay, the game was called, and will not be made up.
'Bama won two games although they only collected 11 hits and scored six runs total in the two games. This is a testament to the outstanding pitching the team has been receiving. The Tide is hitting .245 as a team and has a team ERA of 3.12. Moore is now the team's leading hitter with a .284 mark, followed by Salem at .282. Booth is hitting .265, Smith .263 and Overstreet .262. Booth leads in home runs with four, followed by Smith and Moore with three each. Roberts has the other two home runs for the team (12 total.) Moore leads in RBI's with 29, followed closely by Overstreet's 27, Booth's 26 and Smith's 25. Hawley, Sullivan and Turnbull all have four wins to lead the pitching staff. Castillo has the save lead with his eight.
Since this coming week is finals week there will not be a mid-week game. The team travels to Starkville Mississippi Friday to take on Tuscaloosa native John Cohen's Bulldogs. The games are as follows: Friday 6:30 p.m., Saturday 2:00 p.m. and Sunday 1:30 p.m. All times are CST.
'Bama needs to continue to collect wins, and losing the chance for one on Sunday hurts. The MSU series will be tough, but is winnable. The rest of the regular season schedule includes a Wednesday May 8th game versus Troy, a home weekend series against Missouri and a final weekend trip to Nashville to play Vanderbilt. Two wins in Starkville, a win against Troy and a sweep of Missouri would put the teams win total in the low to mid 30's, which should assure a NCAA regional berth.
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Roll Tide, Y'all