Alabama bounced back from the disappointing sweep at the hands of Florida this weekend to beat Jacksonville State 6-1 on Tuesday night in Tuscaloosa. Freshman Nick Eicholtz was the winning pitcher and Tucker Hawley earned a save. The Tide was in need of, and got, a good, clean, easy victory. Coach Mitch Gaspard said, "this was a win we really needed, coming off of a rough weekend. We got a good start from (Nick) Eicholtz and Tucker (Hawley) finished it off with five good innings. We really needed that."
The Tide got on the board first in the bottom of the second inning when freshman Casey Hughston blasted a long solo shot to right center for his fourth home run of the season. In the third, 'Bama added three more as Mikey White led off with a double, and Georgie Salem beat out a bunt single, putting runners on the corners. Ben Moore hit a fly ball to left for a sacrifice fly, scoring White. With two outs Kyle Overstreet hit a long two run home run over the trees in left field.
JSU finally broke through in the seventh inning, scoring one run after two singles and two ground outs. That was all the Gamecocks could manage, as they only had seven singles and one walk on the night. The lack of walks was a big plus for the 'Bama staff that has struggled as of late. The Tide finished the night's scoring with two runs in the seventh inning. Daniel Cucjen, starting at third base, walked with one out. White hit a triple in the right-centerfield gap, his second three bagger of the year. Salem followed with a line drive single scoring White for the final 6-1 margin.
Eicholtz pitched four innings, allowing two hits with one walk and one strikeout. Hawley pitched the final five innings, allowing five hits with no walks, and striking out three. Eicholtz qualified for the win because it was determined pre-game that he would be on a pitch count. The win made the right-hander's record 3-1 on the season. Hawley earned his first save of the year.
The win was much needed with a road trip to Baton Rouge to play LSU coming up this weekend. The Tide is only 3-7 in their last 10 games, and needed a dose of feel good before heading to the Bayou. The 11 hits gave 'Bama 28 games this year with double digit hits. Of the 11 hits, five were for extra bases, which is the main reason the Tide was able to score more runs. Despite having two of three games this past weekend with more than 10 hits, the team only scored three runs in each game, mainly because of the lack of extra base hits.
*Mikey White was 3-4 with a double, triple, and RBI and two runs scored.
*Georgie Salem was 3-3 with an RBI, run scored and a sac bunt.
*Austen Smith was 2-4.
*Kyle Overstreet was 1-4 with a two-run home run.
*Casey Hughston was 1-4 with a solo home run.
*Wade Wass was 1-3 with a walk.
*Ben Moore had his 13 game hitting streak broken, but had an RBI with a sac fly.
The Tide continues their late season gauntlet of a schedule when they take on the 10th ranked Tigers. LSU is led by junior pitcher Aaron Nola, who will be a top draft pick in this June's MLB draft. Nola has been almost unhittable, and has a record of 7-1 with an ERA of 1.58. In 85 innings pitched, he has allowed only 51 hits with 22 walks, and has struck out 102. The LSU pitching staff leads the nation with 12 shutouts this year. Offensively, Andrew Stevenson is the leading hitter with a .351 average. Last season's national freshman of the year Alex Bregman had a slow start to the season, but has been rebounding as of late and is hitting .292. As a team, LSU is hitting .274 and the pitching staff has an ERA of 2.63. This will be a tough series for the Tide, but if they can throw strikes on the mound and get some timely hitting they have a chance to do well. Facing Nola is a challenge that not many teams have been up to, but it can be done. Spencer Turnbull will face him, and if he has his good control he can match the zeros Nola is expected to put up.
Justin Kamplain will pitch on Saturday and Jonathan Keller will be on the hill for the Sunday game. Game times are 7:00 p.m. on Friday, Noon on Saturday and 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. Saturday's and Sunday's games will be televised on CSS.
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Roll Tide Y'all Roger
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