The Crimson Tide had a four-run seventh inning, highlighted by seven straight base runners reaching on two hits, two hit batters and three walks, as they cruised to a 7-2 victory over the UAB Blazers on Tuesday night. The game featured a 90 minute rain delay at the beginning at Regions Park, the home of the AA Birmingham Barons. 'Bama improved to 15-12 on the season while the Blazers fell to 17-10.
In a nice reversal of earlier trends, Tide pitchers walked only one Blazer batter and struck out twelve. 'Bama collected seven walks and had three batters reach by hit by pitch, but did strike out nine times. Alabama used six pitchers in the game and UAB had seven see mound action.
Freshman right-hander Jake Walters received the start, and was on a pitch count limit, pitching the first three innings and throwing 45 pitches. Walters will now be able to pitch in the LSU series this week. Walters was followed by Nick Eicholtz, in his first action in several weeks, then Jay Shaw, Mitch Greer, Thomas Burrows and J.C. Wilhite. Walters allowed two hits, one run and struck out four, while walking no one. Eicholtz was awarded the win, pitching 1.2 innings, allow two hits with one run and two strikeouts, and more importantly, no walks. Shaw, Greer, Burrows and Wilhite combined on 4.1 innings of one hit ball with six strikeouts and only one walk.
UAB got on the board first in the second inning, using a double, a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly to plate their run. The Tide answered in the fourth when Kyle Overstreet singled and scored on a long triple by Wilhite. The fourth inning was 'Bama's big inning, and all the damage was done after the first two hitters struck out. Casey Hughston singled, Overstreet followed with his third of four hits and Wilhite was plunked by a pitch. Cody Henry drew a bases loaded walk for an RBI, then Will Haynie was hit by pitch bringing in another run. Chance Vincent and Chandler Avant also drew bases loaded walks, driving in runs.
The Blazers cut the lead to 5-2 in the fifth on two singles and a ground out. 'Bama answered with a Georgie Salem RBI double in the seventh and a long solo home run by Haynie in the ninth, making the final score 7-2 in the Tides favor.
* Overstreet was 4-5 with a double and two runs scored, raising his average to .314
* Avant was 3-5 with two stolen bases, an RBI and run scored, and now has seven straight multi hit games, and nine of his last 10. The freshman raised his average to .312
* Casey Hughston was 2-5 and his hitting .392
* Haynie was 1-2 with his third home run, and drove in two runs. Haynie is hitting .173 on the season, but on balls put in play (when he doesn't strike out) his average his .301
Overall it was a good, clean game for the Tide. The defense did not commit any errors, the pitchers threw strikes, the hitters had an aggressive, yet patient approach at the plate as evident by the 10 combined walks-hit batters. The team attacked first-pitch strikes, but also laid off when Blazer control was lacking. Getting Eicholtz back will be a big boost to the pitching staff, and everyone that pitched in the game will be available when LSU comes to town on Thursday for a three game series.
LSU, which previously was ranked number one, is ranked number three in the country this week. Thursday and Friday's games are scheduled for 7 p.m. CST starts, and Saturday's game three is set for a 2 p.m. first pitch. All three games will be available on SEC Network Plus and local radio.