On a cold, windy, wet night in Tuscaloosa, the Alabama bats heated up the night to the tune of 20 hits and 13 runs in beating Nicholls State 13-1. Six players had two or more hits in the game and five pitchers combined to only allow five hits to the Colonels. The Tide did just what you want to do in mid week games: win comfortably, get a lot of players in the game, and not get anyone hurt. Mission accomplished on all fronts. 19 different players saw action for the team in Wednesday's game.
The Tide's young studs, freshmen Chandler Taylor and Cobie Vance, led the way. Taylor tied a school record with five hits, going 5-5 with a triple, three runs scored and three runs driven in. Vance continued his torrid start with a 3-4 night, and his now 9-16 (.562) on the season. Taylor isn't far behind at 8-15 (.533.) Mikey White and Georgie Salem were the last two (of many) to have had five hits in a 'Bama uniform.
'Bama jumped out early, scoring two in the first, second, fourth and fifth innings, and adding five more in the eighth. Keith Holcombe was inserted in the lead off spot and responded by getting the first two hits of his career, and throwing in a walk, a stolen base and two runs scored in three plate appearances. Sophomore Connor Short had his first collegiate home run, a long solo blast in the fifth, and added a single and a walk with two runs. Salem, despite having hit several balls extremely hard last weekend, was hitless coming into the night. The center fielder contributed two doubles and a walk with three runs driven in and a walk. Freshman Gene Wood got the first hits of his career with a 2-2 night and senior Ryan Blanchard had a 2-3 night with a run driven in after replacing Holcombe.
Senior Ray Castilo got the start on the mound and pitched three impressive innings, allowing two hits and striking out two. RS sophomore Mike Oczypok followed and went three innings, allowing three hits with three walks and the only run for NSU. Oczypok also struck out four. Freshman Brock Love received his first action of the season and pitched a perfect seventh inning with a strikeout. Sophomore Tyler Adams followed, and was the most impressive arm of the night, throwing 12 pitches and striking out all three batters he faced, mostly with a nasty curve ball. Freshman Sam Finnerty finished the game out, also in his first action, and had a perfect ninth inning and recorded a strikeout. Oczypok was awarded the win.
The Tide out hit the Colonels 21-5, and also reached base on five walks, while striking out only seven times. Nicholls State walked three times and struck out 11 times. Although it is early 'Bama's plate approach has shown a noticeable improvement this season. The hitters are going to the plate more aggressive, hunting pitches early in the count, and shortening up and making contact when they are faced with two strikes. Situational hitting has shown a marked improvement as well, in ways such as hitting behind runners, getting bunts down at a high rate, and coming up with little things like a ground ball to second to score a run when needed.
The chemistry and attitude is reminiscent of the 2015 football team, as guys are pulling for their teammates, and don't care who gets credit. It appears to be all about the team, which mixed with talent and a certain amount of "swag" can carry the team a long way. The pitching staff is deep and talented and their is competition for playing time and at bats at several positions. This team is fun and exciting and the New Joe is one of the best, if not the best, stadiums in the country. Come out and support the Tide, and have some fun as well.
The Tide welcomes North Dakota to town this weekend for a three game set, with games Friday at 6:30, Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. All home games can be followed on watch ESPN App, SEC Network Plus. North Dakota is 2-1 on the year after taking a series from 12th ranked Southern Cal this past weekend.
GAME 1: BAMA 2, ND 1 - RBI single by Keith Holcombe in the bottom of the ninth wins it!
GAME 2: First pitch 2:00 p.m. CT.
GAME 3: First pitch 1:00 p.m. CT.
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch It!
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