Alabama baseball continued their hot start, sweeping a three game series from Washington State over the weekend. Because of the threat of bad weather on Sunday the teams played a day-night double header on Friday and a rain delayed single game on Saturday. The Tide won by scores of 12-4, 8-2, and 9-3, and have now run their record to 7-0, outscoring opponents by a margin of 67-22. The 7-0 start is the best since the 2008 season under Jim Wells. Washington State fell to 2-6 on the season.
Game One: Won 12-4
Junior right hander Sam Finnerty started game one and ran his record to 2-0 on the young season. Finnerty fell behind 2-0 in the top of the third when he allowed a two run home run to Wazzu first baseman James Rudkin. The Tide bounced back with three runs in the fourth to take a lead they never relinquished. Five straight singles with two outs plated the runs. Chandler Avant, Sam Praytor, Keith Holcombe, Jett Manning, and finally Cody Henry had the safeties. Holcombe’s hit drove in one run while Henry’s drove in the other two.
After allowing the home run Finnerty had two straight scoreless innings, and benefited from his teammates sending 12 men to the plate in the fifth inning, scoring six times. The big blow was a mammoth three run home run by Chandler Taylor over the visitor bullpen in right center field. Holcombe, Manning, and Henry all singled again in the frame with Henry driving in a run. Hunter Alexander added a RBI single and Joe Breaux drove in a run with a bases loaded walk. Breaux set a school record with five walks in five plate appearances during the game.
Finnerty ran into trouble in the top of the sixth and exited with the bases loaded and two outs. Mason Duke replaced him and faced two batters, walking them both to cut the lead to 9-4. Kyle Cameron came in and thwarted the rally. The Tide added three more runs in the seventh, Avant drove in two with a single and Holcombe another with a fielders choice. Cameron pitched brilliantly thought the eighth, going 2.1 innings, allowing two hits with one strikeout and not allowing a walk or a run. Freshman Brady Greene pitched the ninth, and allowed two hits, but ended the game with a strikeout.
Avant led the way with a 3-6, two RBI game. Alexander, Taylor, Holcombe, and Henry all had two hits. Taylor and Henry drove in three runs and Holcombe drove in two. The Tide had 16 hits, walked 10 times and had one hit batter, while stranding 14 runners on base. ‘Bama pitchers gave up 12 hits, four walks, and hit one batter. The Cougars stranded 12 base runners.
Game Two: Won 8-2
Senior ace Jake Walters started game two looking to make up for a not up to his standards first start of the season, when he allowed five runs in five innings. The start was a little rocky after a two out walk and a two run home run in the top of the first inning. After that he settled down, going six innings and allowing only two hits, with two walks and seven strikeouts.
‘Bama got one run back in the first when Chandler Avant drove in Cobie Vance with a fielders choice. Joe Breaux had a single in the inning, stretching his on base streak to seven plate appearances in a row. The Tide took the lead in the second on an RBI single by Cody Henry and an RBI double by Hunter Alexander. The home team added three insurance runs in the fifth on a two run single by Keith Holcombe and a sacrifice fly by Henry.
Deacon Medders replaced Walters in the seventh and pitched three dominate innings to earn a save. Medders allow one hit and struck out three with no walks. ‘Bama got their final two runs in the eighth on a two run triple from Chandler Taylor that was smoked down the right field line. Vance and Breaux had singled in front to Taylor.
Walters got the win for the Tide while Breaux, Alexander, and Taylor had two hits apiece. Taylor, Holcombe, and Henry all had two runs driven in. ‘Bama had 11 hits, three walks and three hit batters in the game, and struck out 10 times, leaving nine men stranded. WSU had three hits, two walks and struck out 10 times with five men left on base.
Game Three: Won 9-3
Saturdays game three had a two hour and fifteen minute rain delay at the start of the game, and a 47 minute delay after the top of the fourth inning. Sam Gardner got the start on the mound, and pitched the first four innings before the rain delay forced him from the action.
Against their norm, the Tide took an early lead in this game, scoring twice in the bottom for the first. Cobie Vance led things off with a hustling double and the red hot Keith Holcombe knocked in two runs with his first double of the season. ‘Bama added one in the second when Jett Manning doubled and scored on and RBI single by Joe Breaux. The Tide added another run in the third on a Chandler Avant double and yet another RBI hit by Holcombe.
Davis Vainer replaced Gardner after the rain delay and struggled, allowing one hit, walking two and hitting two batters which scored two runs. Freshman left hander Brock Guffey relieved and shut the door, going 2.1 innings with only one hit, one walk, and three strikeouts. The Hoover native earned the first win of his career.
‘Bama added three in the eighth, highlighted by Avant’s first home run of the season and ho hum, an RBI hit by the scorching Holcombe. The Tide finished off the scoring with one more run in the bottom of the eighth. Tyler Adams and Dylan Duarte went the final two innings in shutout fashion to preserve the 9-3 victory for the home team.
The Tide had 12 hits, walked three times and got hit by two pitches. Nine runners were left on base. WSU had seven hits, walked five times and had two hit batters. Eleven Cougars were left on the base paths.
Holcombe was 4-4 with a double and four runs driven in. Avant and Manning were the only other players with multiple hits, with two each.
Who Did What
- Keith Holcombe 7-10, a double, eight RBI, three runs, HBP, Sac
- Chandler Avant 6-14, home run, four runs, four RBI, two HBP
- Cody Henry 4-8 , five RBI, Sacrifice fly
- Chandler Taylor 4-12, home run, triple, four walks, five runs, five RBI
- Hunter Alexander 5-13, two doubles, two walks, three runs, two runs driven in
- Jett Manning 5-12, three runs, double, RBI, HBP
- Joe Breaux 3-9, six walks, HBP, SB, four runs, RBI,
- Team Hitting-39 hits, 29 runs, 16 walks, six hit batters
- Team Pitching 22 hits, nine runs, 11 walks, 20 strikeout, two hit batters
This team is having fun and winning. There will be some bumps in the road at some point, but enjoy this run while it lasts. When I joking told Coach Bo “you can't go 56-0 with out winning the first seven” he chuckled and said “slow your roll, we are doing some good things, but it is a long season.” The team is hitting .348 with 18 doubles, six home runs, a .477 on base percentage, and a .506 slugging percentage, with 67 runs scored. Batters have been hit by pitches 21 times in the first seven games and have drawn 44 walks. Keith Holcombe is a ridiculous 13-19 for a .684 batting average, a 1.000 slugging percentage and a gaudy .739 on base percentage. The linebacker/outfielder also leads the team with 11 RBI. Chandler Avant is hitting .448. In only 11 at bats Cody Henry is second on the team with eight runs driven in.
The pitching staff has a 3.14 ERA over 63 innings. They have allowed 58 hits, walked 16 and struck out 51. The difference in ERA, walks allowed and low number (3) of wild pitches is in stark contrast to last year. Pitching coach Jason Jackson has done wonders with the staff.
Five games next week, that’s what. The team goes on the road for the first time on Tuesday with a 6 p.m. match up with Samford on their campus. Wednesday there is a 3 p.m. game at home with Alabama State, before a big trip to Norman, OK to take on the Sooners in a three game series. The game times for OU are 6:30 p.m. on Friday, 4 p.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday. The Tide is one of only two SEC teams (LSU being the other) to play two Power Five conference foes in pre-conference play.
Roll Tide and remember to catch Bama Baseball Fever
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