Before a record crowd of 3,243 at Riddle-Pace field in Troy, the Crimson Tide continued their hot start to the season using the same M.O. as they have so far this season: excellent pitching and just enough hitting to get the job done, with a healthy dose of filth at the end of the game - record setting closer Thomas Burrows. Burrows notched his fourth save of the year, and 22nd of his career, breaking the school record. The junior left hander has yet to allow a base runner this year in his five appearances covering six innings, with 11 strikeouts.
BAMA 2 TROY 1
Left handerstarted his first game of the season and pitched the first four innings, allowing four hits with one walk and two strikeouts. The Trojans touched Keller for their only run of the game in the third inning on a single by Bert Givens, a sacrifice bunt by Shaw Pinnell and an RBI single by Trevor Davis.
Meanwhile the Tide was stranding runners on base all game long, 13 in total, with eight of those being left in scoring position. Troy starter Cory Gill lasted 4.1 innings and allowed three hits, with two walks and six strikeouts, with no runs allowed. Mike Oczypok, Tyler Adams, Sam Finnerty, Matt Foster and Burrows followed Keller on the mound, and were all outstanding, combining for five innings pitched, allows three hits with one walk and six strikeouts and no runs.
After failing time after time with runners on base, the Tide finally broke through in the top of the eighth, scoring the two runs they needed for the victory. Georgie Salem led things off with a bunt single and advanced to third on a double by Troy native Chandler Avant. With the infield playing back, Hunter Webb had a great at bat and scored Salem with a ground ball to the second baseman. With two outs Chance Vincent lined his third hit of the game, plating Avant with what turned out to be the games winning run.
THE HOLD AND THE SAVE
Holding the lead, coach Mitch Gaspard called on his dynamic duo of Foster and Burrows to finish the Trojans off. Foster allowed a single to Matt Sanders to start the inning, then recorded a strike out and fly out before giving way to Burrows. Burrows promptly threw to first, catching Sanders leaning, but the Troy shortstop hustled in to second, beating the throw from first baseman Cody Henry, and was awarded a stolen base. With the tying run in scoring position, Burrows struck out the next batter to end the threat, and made quick work of the home town team in the bottom of the ninth, getting a ground ball to Henry at first, and ending the game with two straight strikeouts.
The Tide did connect for nine hits on the night, led by Vincent with three and Salem and Henry with two each. Avant and Henry each had a double for the only extra base knocks by 'Bama. Alabama hitters struck out 13 times and walked only three times. Freshman Finnerty got the first victory of his college career after his one spotless inning in which he allowed one hit and had one strikeout. The defense was flawless, and didn't commit an error in the game. Catcher Will Haynie threw out one runner trying to steal on the night.
The team was missing one key performer from their early season success in outfielder Keith Holcombe who had fourth quarter training with the football team and was unable to make the trip, not to mention that he will be traveling with his football mates to Washington D.C. for the Tide's (almost) annual trip to the White House to meet with President Obama. The OF/Linebacker will have football duties Thursday, so he will not ride the bus with the team to North Carolina on Thursday morning, but will fly up later in the day. It sounds as if he will be excused from football duties on Friday.
SEASON REVIEW, SO FAR
This 'Bama team is not scoring a ton of runs, but has given up only one run in six games for far this season. With a deep and versatile pitching staff, getting enough hits and runs may do the job for these guys. If they can get deep into the game with even a slight lead, Foster and Burrows can, and have, shut down anyone.
Alabama travels to Cary, N.C. this weekend for four games in the USA Baseball-Irish Classic: Notre Dame on Friday at 4 p.m., then play Niagara at 11:30 a.m. and North Carolina State at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday before finishing up with Brown at 11 a.m. Sunday. All times listed are Central Time (like God Intended).
Friday, March 04, 2016 vs. Notre Dame 4:00 p.m. CT
Saturday, March 05, 2016 vs. Niagara 11:30 a.m. CT
Saturday, March 05, 2016 vs. NC State 3:30 p.m. CT
Sunday, March 06, 2016 vs. Brown 11:00 a.m. CT
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch It
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