The Alabama Crimson Tide came to Birmingham Wednesday night with revenge on their minds, and extracted a measure of that revenge, by winning 5-2 over the UAB Blazers. The game was played in Regions Park in downtown Birmingham, home of the AA Birmingham Barons. The Blazers beat the Tide one week ago in Tuscaloosa by a score of 1-0.
UAB tried the same strategy that they employed last week by pitching nine pitchers, none for more that two innings, and many for just parts of one inning. In last week's game the Blazers used eight pitchers and kept the Tide batters off balance by constantly showing different looks. Although it took 'Bama a while to solve the puzzle, the finally did, scoring three runs in the sixth and two more in the eighth.
Geoffrey Bramblett started the second game of his career, both against the Blazers. The Hoover native pitched five effective innings, allowing four hits, not walking anyone, striking out seven, and giving up one run. Last week, Bramblett pitched 6 1/3 innings of one run ball with nine strikeouts. Jay Shaw relieved in the sixth and pitched two shut out innings. Nick Eicholtz and Thomas Burrows finished the game off.
UAB got on the board first by scoring in the second inning when Ivan DeJesus singled in Ryan Prinzing.
'Bama finally broke through in the sixth with three runs. Daniel Cucjen led off with a single and was forced out at second on a sac bunt attempt by Mikey White. Georgie Salem and Ben Moore singled to load the bases for clean up man Wade Wass. Wass lined a two strike single up the middle to score two. Kyle Overstreet followed with a single of his own to bring in the third run.
Shaw pitched two very good innings, allowing only one walk and leaving with the Tide holding a 3-1 lead. 'Bama added to the lead in the top of the eighth with a combination of bunts, sacrifice bunts and a sacrifice fly. Salem led off and beat out a beautiful bunt for his third hit of the game. Moore surprised the Blazers with a bunt of his own, beating it out. Wass lined a sharp single to left, scoring Salem. Overstreet sac bunted Moore and Wass ahead 90 feet. Pinch hitter Hunter Webb was intentionally walked to load the bases, bringing Chance Vincent to the plate. Vincent delivered with a sacrifice fly, bringing in the Tide's fifth, and final run of the night.
Nick Eicholtz, who has been outstanding all year, was brought in to pitch the eighth for the Tide. Eicholtz did not have his best control, and after getting the first out, walked the next two batters. From there Coach Mitch Gaspard called on freshman closer Thomas Burrows. Burrows walked the first batter he faced to load the bases. Jeff Schalk hit a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring the Blazers second run. Burrows bore down and struck out the next batter to end the inning, and hold the score at 5-2. In the ninth Burrows sandwiched a hit batter and a walk around a strikeout and two fly balls to end the game, giving the Tide their revenge on the Blazers. The win gave Bramblett a record of 3-0 and the save was Burrows sixth of the season. The Tide is now 45-22 all time against UAB, and Gaspard improved to 3-7 vs the Blazers. 'Bama is now 26-1 on the season when scoring at least three runs in a game.
* Georgie Salem was 3-5 with 2 runs scored.
* Daniel Cucjen was 3-4, giving him five hits in his last two games.
* Wade Wass was 2-4 with 3 RBIs.
* Ben Moore was 2-3 with 2 runs scored.
* Kyle Overstreet was 1-3 with an RBI.
* Casey Hughston was 1-2 with a hit by pitch.
* Mikey White was 1-5.
* Chance Vincent had an RBI with a sacrifice fly.
This was the Tide's 20th game this season with 10 or more hits, and the performance raised the team batting average to a season high .282. The team ERA lowered to 2.32. They did not commit any errors, and is fielding at a .972 clip on the season.
In the two midweek games, playing without leading hitter Austen Smith, the Tide was able to notch double digit hits in both games. Daniel Cucjen filled in nicely and swung a hot bat, going 5-7 in Smith's absence. There is hope that Smith will be cleared to play this weekend in Knoxville when 'Bama takes on the Tennessee Vols in a three game set.
The games are set for 5:00 p.m Friday, 3:00 p.m Saturday and 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. All times listed are Central Time. The Tide will use their normal rotation of Spencer Turnbull followed by Justin Kamplain and Jonathan Keller. Kamplain is coming off an outstanding performance against Auburn last week, for which he was named SEC pitcher of the week.
The Tide is in sole possession of first place in the SEC with a 10-5 league mark. They need to win the road series to stay there. Tennessee is a much-improved team, and any series on the road is not easy, but this is a winnable one. Next week, the Tide travels to Columbia, South Carolina to take on the always dangerous Gamecocks, so a cushion in the standings would be a welcome thing. Bama Baseball Fever, Catch it!
Roll Tide Y'all Roger
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