The Crimson Tide baseball team welcomed a vastly overmatched Northern Kentucky team to Tuscaloosa this weekend, and never broke a sweat in sweeping them. Game one was a 15-1 victory, followed by a 9-4 Saturday win, and a 10-1 win on Sunday. The Tide has now won 11 games in a row, the school’s longest winning streak since a 16-game tear in 1999. Alabama is now 15-2 on the season, with SEC play looming next weekend.
NKU fell to 1-11 this season. Bama has a Tuesday night game with Middle Tennessee before traveling to Oxford to take on Ole Miss in the SEC opener for both teams.
Game One: Won 15-1
Senior righthander Sam Finnerty remained perfect on the season, notching his fourth victory of the season on Friday night. Finnerty threw 88 pitches over seven innings, allowing five hits, no walks, picking up six strikeouts and allowing just one run (earned).
The Tide plated five runs in the second inning on RBI singles by T.J. Reeves, Jeaux Breaux, and Brett Auerbach, and a two run double by Tyler Gentry. Reeves, a freshman out of Hueytown, blasted a two run home run in the third off the scoreboard in left. The long ball was the first of Reeves’s career.
Alabama put the game totally out of reach in the fifth, sending 11 men to the plate and scoring seven runs. The Tide used four singles, two doubles, a walk, and a hit batter in the frame. Auerbach and Morgan McCullough both had two run doubles, while Drew Williamson, Breaux, and Keith Holcombe all had RBI in the inning.
The Norse finally scratched a run across off of Finnerty in the seventh on a single, double, and a sacrifice fly. Walker McCleney fielded the ball in center and just missed nipping the runner at the plate. Kolby Robinson had an eighth inning RBI single for the Tide to finish the scoring. Dylan Smith and Dylan Oliver each pitched a scoreless inning for Bama to finish off Northern.
The Tide collected 18 hits, had four walks, one hit batter, and left six runners stranded on base. while not committing any errors. NKU had five hits, drew no walks, and struck out eight times. Auerbach tied a school record (held by many) with his five hits, going 5-5 with two doubles, three RBI, and two runs scored. Reeves was 2-2 with his home run, three RBI, a walk, and three runs scored. Holcombe and Williamson both had two-hit games.
Game Two: Won 9-4
Brock Love assumed the Saturday starter role after his great performance against South Alabama last week. The oft-injured red shirt junior seems to be rounding into shape, and looks to fulfill his great promise.
Northern Kentucky’s Noah Fisher put the Norse on the board early with a solo home run in the second. The Tide answered after two hit batters were followed up with an RBI single by Gentry in the third. Breaux slapped a two run double in the fourth to give Bama the lead. John Trousdale tripled in a run in the fifth, and then scored on a Williamson sacrifice fly. Bama added two more in the sixth without the benefit of a hit. NKU walked five batters and committed a balk to score the runs. The Tide scored twice more in the seventh on an RBI single by Auerbach and a run scoring double by McCullough.
Love got out of a strange circumstance in the fifth, when the first three batters all bunted the first pitch, and all reach base safely. With the bases loaded and no outs, Love knuckled down and retired the next three batters without a run scoring, and using only 10 total pitches in the inning.
Northern scored three unearned runs in the seventh off of Casey Cobb to close the gap a little, but Chase Lee and Davis Vainer pitched the last 2.1 innings and choked off the rally. The Tide had nine hits, drew 10 walks, had four hit batters, and left 14 runners on base. NKU had nine hits, three walks, struck out nine times, and stranded 10 runners. Love ran his record to 2-0 with the win. McCullough and Kobe Morris both had two hit games, while Breaux drove in two runs.
Game Three: Won 10-1
Who scores 10 runs with only six hits, none of them home runs? Alabama does. The Tide took advantage of some really bad pitching by the Norse to add 12 walks and three hit batters to their six hits. Junior college transfer Will Freeman started the game on the mound for the Tide and claimed the victory, going 5.2 sharp innings, allowing six hits with one walk and four strikeouts.
Bama scored four in the bottom of the second on RBI singles by Reeves and Robinson, a sacrifice fly by Breaux, and a Norse wild pitch. The Tide put another four spot on the board in the fourth with the help of three walks, a hit batter, and a base-clearing, three-run double by Holcombe. Northern scored their only run in the top of the fifth on back to back doubles. Alabama finished their scoring in the fifth, adding two more without any hits, and buoyed by three walks, a hit batter, and a wild pitch.
Freeman was followed by Garret Rukes, Oliver, and Deacon Medders to close the game out. Combined the four allowed six hits with one walk and six strikeouts. The Tide had six hits, drew 12 walks, had three hit batters, and stranded 10 on base. Reeves was the only player with a multi-hit game, notching two singles. Keith Holcombe led the way with three driven in.
In the series, the Tide outscored the Norse 34-6, led in hits 33-20, had 26 walks while only issuing four to NKU. The Tide did strike out 19 times, while the Norse whiffed 23 times.
A 15-2 record and an 11-game winning streak, against any competition, is a great accomplishment. Obviously the strength of schedule is about to be ramped up by a factor of 100. The SEC has 11 teams ranked in the top 25 as conference play starts. Coach Brad Bohannon is building his roster to his liking, and another recruiting cycle should have the Tide on the verge of great things. The team pitches and plays defense at a very high level, which will keep them in most of the games that they play. There will definitely be bumps in the road over the next 10 weeks, but Bama seems to be ready to face them and be much more competitive than they have been the last couple of years.
The Tide is currently hitting .300 as a team with a .426 on-base percentage and is averaging 7.4 runs per game. The pitching staff has a 2.05 ERA over 158 innings and have allowed only 120 hits and a .210 average-against. The most amazing stat is Alabama’s ability to fan opposing batters and keep the ball in the strike zone: Alabama’s rotation has an almost-4:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (167K-to-44BB).
Who Did What?
- Brett Auerbach: 6-11, five-hit game tying school record, four RBI, five runs, two doubles, three hit-by-pitches, four walks
- T.J. Reeves: 4-5, double, home run, four RBI, four runs, walk
- Keith Holcombe: 3-9, five RBI, two runs, two walks, double, hit by pitch
- Morgan McCullough: 3-9, two doubles, three runs, four RBI, four walks,
- Kolby Robinson: 3-8, four runs, two stolen bases, two RBI, hit by pitch
- (P) Sam Finnerty: W (4-0), 7 innings pitched, 5 hits, 0 walks, 6 strikeouts, 1 run allowed (earned).
Tuesday night the Tide will host Middle Tennessee at 6 p.m. The game will be available on SEC Network Plus. On Friday-Saturday-Sunday, Alabama will travel to Oxford to take on the Ole Miss Rebels (12-3). The Landsharks are ranked 13th in the country and have a 12-3 record this season.
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