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‘Bama Baseball Sweeps ULM

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MLB: Spring Training-Pittsburgh Pirates at New York Yankees
Alabama Baseball got back on the right track, winning three games from Louisiana-Monroe over the weekend
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into the weekend with a four game losing streak, the Alabama Crimson Tide got the medicine they needed with a three game sweep over the Louisiana-Monroe WarHawks. The Tide improved to 6-5 on the young season, while ULM feel to 4-8. The Tide won a thriller in walk off fashion on Friday by a score of 4-3 before winning more easily the next two days, 6-2 on Saturday and 10-3 on Sunday.

Friday: Won 4-3

Nick Eicholtz took his place on the mound to start on Friday, but was not sharp, allowing one run in the first and two in the second. Eicholtz settled down and had scoreless innings in the third and fourth, and left in the fifth with two outs and one base runner on. In 4.2 innings of work he allowed six hits with two walks and three strikeouts. allowing three runs. Brock Love replaced him, and proceeded to have one of the best performances ever seen by an Alabama pitcher, facing 13 batters, striking out 10 and not allowing a base runner.

Hawk starter Josh Leone controlled the Tide, allowing only two hits going into the seventh inning. With one out ‘Bama came alive when Kyle Kaufman singled, followed by a Cody Henry double and a Hunter Alexander double that brought home both runs. Connor Short ripped a double of his own to tie the game at three.

Love continued to mow down the WarHawks mostly with a mid 90’s fastball mixed in with a few off speed pitches mixed in. The Tide scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth with Kaufman leading off with a single. The speedy Connor Wright pinch ran for Kaufman and advanced to second on a sac bunt by Henry. Alexander then guided a 0-2 pitch up the middle for the game winning hit.

Love evened his record at 1-1 with his dominating outing. Kaufman, Alexander and Short each had two hits of the eight the team collected on the night. Alexander drove in three of the four runs scored on the night.

Saturday: Won 6-2

Jake Walters took his turn in the rotation on Saturday, and after tweaking his game week routine, returned to the ace that he has become. Walters pitched six innings, only the second time all season a starter had reached that mark, and both times it has been Walters. The junior from Maylene allowed six hits, had now walks with four strikeouts, allowing two runs, both unearned.

‘Bama jumped out early with three runs in the second inning. Cody Henry doubled and Kyle Kaufman singled. Chandler Taylor hit a long fly ball to right for a sacrifice fly and run driven in. Henry scored on a balk and then Connor Short and Chandler Avant lined doubles to make the lead 3-0.

ULM scratched single unearned runs across in the fourth and sixth to shrink the margin to 3-2 before the Tide answered in the bottom of the sixth. Taylor and pinch hitter Tanner DeVinny both singled and Chandler Avant was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Pinch hitter Sam Finnerty hit a long drive in the right center gap to score two, and Avant crossed the plate on a passed ball for the final run in the 6-2 win.

Garrett Suchey replaced Walters in the seventh after the lead off hitter doubled. Suchey was sharp, and struck out four with no walks, allowing only a harmless one out double in the ninth, before shutting the door.

Avant was the only multi hit player for the Tide with his 3-4 day with a double, RBI, hit by pitch and run scored. Finnerty led in runs driven in with two. With the fantastic relief pitching of Love and Suchey, ‘Bama was able to take the first two games while only using four pitchers.

Sunday: Won 10-3

Dylan Durate received his third consecutive Sunday start on the mound for ‘Bama in game three. The lefty from Texas lasted only 3.2 innings, but struck out a career high eight batters, allowing six hits with one walk and two unearned runs.

The first four ULM batters reached base with runs scoring on a bases loaded walk and an RBI ground out. The Tide chipped away in the bottom of the firs when Logan Carey, who had reached on error, advanced to third on a single by Cobie Vance. Carey scored on the front end of a double steal to cut the lead to 2-1.

In the second after a Connor Short walk, Chandler Taylor did Chandler Taylor things, parking a fast ball almost 400 feet over the visitor bull pen in right center. The long ball was Taylor’s fifth of the short season, and gave him a team leading 11 RBI on the year.

In the fourth the Tide added two on an RBI single by Keith Holcombe and a sacrifice fly by Vance. Tanner DeVinny singled in Taylor, who had also singled, in the fifth to expand the lead to 5-2.

Sam Finnerty replaced Durate on the mound, and was the games winning pitcher in his 2.1 innings of work. Finnerty had clean innings in the fifth and sixth before running into some bad luck in the seventh. Two dribblers couldn't quite be fielded, giving the WarHawks two base runners with no outs. Davis Vainer came in, and after walking the first batter he faced to load the bases, got a run scoring double play and an inning ending strikeout.

‘Bama poured it on in the seventh, scoring the last four runs of the game. Hunter Alexander doubled, and scored on a single by Short. Taylor followed with his third hit, another single, bringing DeVinny to the plate. The switch hitting catcher flipped to the right side by the lefty ULM pitcher, drove a long drive off of the scoreboard for his first home run as a Tide player, and the final runs of the game.

Coach Greg Goff then started emptying his bench, using four pinch hitters, three more pitchers and a couple of defensive replacements. Mike Oczypok, Zac Rogers and Nathan Aldstadt all pitched to end the game with out allowing and damage. The 13 of inning for Aldstadt was the freshman's first appearance of the year.

Taylor was 3-4 with three runs scored, his home run and two driven in. DeVinny had two hits including his home run and drove in four. Chandler Avant was 2-5 with a stolen base. The Tide collected 11 hits on the day.

Weekend Stars

  • Chandler Avant- 5-12 with a double, walk, stolen base and walk.
  • Connor Short- 4-9 with two doubles, two runs, a walk, a sac bunt and RBI
  • Chandler Taylor 4-11, Home run, four runs, three RBI, and a walk
  • Hunter Alexander-4-11, two doubles, two runs, two RBI and a walk
  • Tanner DeVinny- 3-4, three runs, four RBI, a walk and three runs scored
  • Jake Walters, Win, 6 IP with no earned runs, and the entire Bama bull pen, led by Brock Love and Garrett Suchey. In 12.2 innings the pen allowed only one run on three hits, with 17 strikeouts and three walks.

What Does It Mean?

This was an much needed, and expected sweep over a team that isn't very good. Goff and his players seem to be learning each other and their roles. The bull pen seems to be coming together with Vainer and Suchey as the main stays. Love is electric and can/has been used in a number of ways. Look for him to be a starter going forward. Kaufman and DeVinny are both hitting as catchers, and Logan Carey is healthy now and a left field/center field option now. Goff continues to use a lot of players, so they always have to be ready to go. The Tide starters are going to have to start going deeper in their games to keep from over taxing the relief core.

Whats Next?

Ten games in the next fourteen days, that’s what. Troy comes to town Tuesday (weather permitting) for a 6 p.m. game, followed by a Thursday-Sunday series with Arkansas Pine-Bluff. Those games are at 6-6-2 and 1 p.m. Then Eastern Illinois comes to town the next Tuesday followed by Samford on Wednesday and Missouri on the weekend for the first SEC series. All will be available on SEC Network Plus.

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