Alabama played a complete game in all aspects Tuesday in defeating Samford 12-1 to sweep the season series, two games to none. The Tide had 18 hits, scored 12 runs, did not commit an error on defense, and received outstanding pitching from Jake Walters and Nick Eicholtz.
'Bama jumped out early as Georgie Salem blasted a one out solo home run in the first. The Tide added three more runs in the frame on a RBI double by Kyle Overstreet, a ground out by Cody Henry and an RBI single by J.C. Wilhite. Salem struck again in the top of the second with another home run, his second of the game, and second of the season.
Walters was cruising alone, striking out the side in the first and third innings on his way to tying a career high of nine strikeouts in the game. Walters didn't allow a hit until a two out single in the fifth, and pitched five innings, allowing one hit with three walks and nine strikeouts.
The Tide kept adding to the lead, scoring at least one run in every inning but the sixth and eighth. Chance Vincent lined a two run single in the third. Riley Colburn singled in the fourth, and eventually scored on the back end of a double steal. Wilhite drove in a run on a grounder in the fifth, and Vincent and Chandler Avant had RBI singles in the seventh. Ryan Blanchard brought in the last run of the game with a ninth inning RBI single.
Nick Eicholtz replaced Walters on the mound in the sixth and went the final four innings, his longest outing of the year. The sophomore, who has battled an arm injury this season, allowed two hits, one walk, one run and struck out five. Walters improved his record to 3-1 on the year and Eicholtz recorded his first save of the year.
The Tide started gold glove second baseman Kyle Overstreet at catcher in this game, his first action behind the plate in his career. Many scouts project Overstreet as a catcher at the next level, and the junior acquitted himself well, doing an admiral job. Samford did not have many base runners, and with a big deficit did not attempt any stolen bases, but Overstreet appeared comfortable and should have more opportunities at the position going forward. Avant manned the second base position for the first time, after starting games at third base, left field and DH so far this season.
After being swept by LSU this past weekend, including two heartbreaking extra inning affairs, the Tide needed a game like this to get back on track. This was one of the few games this season when 'Bama was clicking in all three facets of the game, albeit against a lesser foe, this game could be the building block the squad needs.
Salem has broken out of his slump, and has been driving the ball with much more authority over the last six games or so. The power outburst comes on the heels of the junior center fielders first triple and a couple of doubles in the LSU series. With Avant, Overstreet and Henry getting hot to go along with White, Hughston and WIlhite, the offense is becoming more dangerous.
Walters continues to impress as a freshman on the mound, and with Eicholtz rounding into form the Tide is starting to build better mound depth. Jay Shaw, Mitch Greer and Jake Hubbard in the middle innings and Wilhite, Ray Castillo and Thomas Burrows in the late innings have all had various degrees of success this season, and if they continue, along with improved offensive production and defense the Tide can still have a successful season.
*Chandler Avant was 3-5 with an RBI
*Georgie Salem was 2-4 with two home runs, and two runs driven in
*Casey Hughston was 3-5 and his hitting .395 on the season
*Kyle Overstreet was 2-4, with a walk, a double and three runs scored
*Cody Henry was 3-4 with a double and an RBI
*J.C. Wilhite was 1-3 with two RBIs
*Chance Vincent was 2-5 with three RBIs
The Tide will host the Georgia Bulldogs this weekend at the Hoover Met in a three game series, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday's game will start at 7:00 p.m., Saturday's at 3:00 p.m and Sunday's game three is set for a 1:00 p.m. All times are CST and will be available on SEC Network Plus and local radio. If you are in the Birmingham-Hoover area come out this weekend and support the Tide.
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch it!