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Alabama Baseball 2014: Pitching Dominates In Weekend Sweep

UA aces pitch a no-hitter --only allow eight hits and no runs in a three-game sweep of Mississippi Valley State.

Coach Mitch Gaspard's squad is riding a five-game winning streak
Coach Mitch Gaspard's squad is riding a five-game winning streak

The Alabama baseball team stretched their winning streak to five games with a three-game sweep of Mississippi Valley State this weekend. With the three victories, Alabama improves to 9-5, as the Devils drop to 0-15.  Tide pitching was absolutely dominant, allowing only eight hits -all singlez- and no runs. The Tide also recorded its first nine-inning no-hitter since 1942, and the first no-hitter of any kind since 1993. The three straight shutouts were the first for the Tide since 1912 against Marion Institute.

Friday: 8-0

'Bama sent its big right-hander, Spencer Turnbull to the mound for his usual Friday night start. In Turnbull's first three starts of the season, the Tide lost each game by a 2-1 margin. The Madison, MS native allowed three harmless singles, two of the infield variety, struck out seven, and walked only one. The Devils were hapless in facing his 94-97 mph fast ball. Senior Tucker Hawley relieved in the eighth inning and allowed two infield singles, walked one and struck out three in the final two frames. Offensively, the Tide managed to score eight runs on nine hits. 'Bama scored first in the second inning as Austen Smith doubled home Kyle Overstreet, who had walked. Alabama didn't score again until the fifth inning. Chance Vincent and Georgie Salem singled to open the inning, and when Mikey White sacrificed bunted them up, he reached on an error by the pitcher. Vincent scored on a wild pitch, and Salem followed him home on a sacrifice fly by Ben Moore. The Crimson Tide added two more in the sixth. Smith singled and scored on an RBI double by Will Haynie. The double was Haynie's first extra base hit as a Tider. Vincent brought the other run home with a sacrifice fly to center field.  The Tide finished their scoring in the seventh inning, by scoring three more runs, for the final margin of 8-0. White walked and Moore doubled him to third, were he scored on a passed ball. Wade Wass hit a double of his own to score Moore. Pinch-hitter Matthew Goodson hit a sacrifice fly to score the final run. Smith was 3-4 with two double and an RBI. Moore had a double, sacrifice fly and RBI. Haynie was 1-3 with a double and RBI. Salem, Wass, Vincent and pinch-hitter Steven Cole all had one hit for 'Bama.

Saturday: 7-0

Junior left-hander Justin Kamplain started on Saturday and was unhittable, in a literal sense. Kamplain pitched seven innings, and did not allow a hit. His only blemishes were a walk in the first and a hit batter in the third. Kamplain struck out 12 batters, including the last 10 outs he recorded. The last out in the fourth inning was a strikeout, and then Kamplain struck out the side in the fifth and sixth innings. After striking out the first two batters in the seventh, Kamplain finally walked a batter, but bounced back to get the third out with a swinging strikeout. The Jasper native had thrown 98 pitches through seven innings, and with a pitch count set at 100 pitches, he reluctantly left the game. Afterwards Kamplain said, " I understand that I needed to come out with SEC play staring next week, but I tell you, I wanted to stay in and try to finish it off." Coach Mitch Gaspard said it was tough to take out the lefty, but that "we have to look down the road, and with conference play starting next week we need Justin at 100 percent." Jay Shaw relieved in the eighth, and after walking a batter got a strikeout and two ground balls to end the inning. Freshmen Geoffrey Bramblett pitched the ninth and completed the combined no-hitter with a fly ball and two more strikeouts. As a team the Tide struck out 15 and only allowed three base runners, with two walks and one hit batter. Offensively 'Bama scored the only runs they would need in the first when Georgie Salem and Mikey White opened with singles and both scored as Wade Wass slapped a double into the right field corner. The Tide added two in the third when White was hit by a pitch, followed by a Moore single and a two RBI single by Austen Smith. Moore launched a solo home run in the fifth, his first of the year. The Tide finished their scoring in the seventh with Moore singling and Smith hitting a sacrifice fly. Moore led the team with a 3-4 night, with his home run and one RBI. Smith drove in three runs with his single and sac fly. Wass had a double with two RBIs. Salem and White had the other hits for 'Bama in the 7-0 victory. White and Moore each scored three runs.

Sunday: 3-0

Jonathan Keller drew the start in Sunday's game, replacing Ray Castillo who had started the first three Sunday games this year. Keller had relieved Castillo each game and had recorded three wins in three appearances. This week the roles reversed, with both pitchers pitching effectively. Keller threw the first six innings and only allowed one hit, hit two batters, and struck out seven. Castillo pitched two innings, allowing one hit, one walk, and struck out three, the side in the eighth. Gold Glove second basemen Kyle Overstreet took his first turn on the mound, pitching the ninth and securing a save. Overstreet allowed one single and struck out one. The Delta Devils pitchers in Sundays game kept the Tide hitters off balance with slow, off speed pitches, and only allowed three unearned runs. 'Bama got all its runs in the third inning when the Devils third baseman kept the inning alive by fumbling a two-out ground ball. After Will Haynie singled, Chance Vincent hit into a force play. Mikey White hit a ground ball to third and Connor Sheppeard had trouble transferring the ball to his throwing hand and White reached base. Ben Moore than brought two runs home with a double to left. Moore scored when Wade Wass lined a single. Moore was the big stick with his 2-4, two double,two RBI day. Georgie Salem was 2-4 and Haynie went 2-3. Wass and Overstreet, with a single each, had the only other hits on the day.

Austen Smith leadings the team with a .333 batting average, followed by Georgie Salem at .328, and Ben Moore at .321. The team average is .258. Smith has the RBI leads with 11, with Moore recording 10. Wade Wass and Moore both have five doubles to lead the team. Moore also leads with 12 runs and five stolen bases.

Jonathan Keller sports a 4-0 won-lost record on the mound. Thomas Burrows is 2-0, Justin Kamplain is 2-1 and Spencer Turnbull is 1-1. The team ERA is a gaudy 1.76 -- Turnbull's ERA is 0.42, and Keller's is 0.83.

The hitting will need to improve as SEC play looms. This week the Tide plays Samford on Tuesday at 6:05 p.m. and hosts Kentucky on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the SEC opener. The games are set for 6:35 p.m. on Friday, 6:05 p.m. on Saturday and 1:05 p.m. on Sunday.

Roll Tide, Roger