The No. 21-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (2–1, 0–0 SEC) baseball team opened up the 2014 campaign with a series win at home vs. the St. Louis University Billikens (1–2, 0–0 A–10) over Valentine’s Day weekend.
The season got off to a rocky start for the Tide losing to the Billikens in game one 2–1 on Friday night.
Crimson Tide starter Spencer Turnbull (0–0) pitched three shutout innings to start the game and notched four strikeouts, but his night was eventually ended by a mid-game rain delay.
The rain delay, totaling almost two hours, proved to be a killer to the Tide’s early momentum.
Alabama was held scoreless after the rain delay and junior Ben Moore’s RBI double was the only run Alabama was able to plate.
Senior reliever Tucker Hawley (0–1) was credited with the loss for the Crimson Tide after giving up two earned runs and three hits in just two innings of work.
St. Louis reliever Nick Bates (1–0) was handed the win after throwing 4.2 scoreless innings after the rain delay. Matt Eckelman (1) earned the save after striking out two in 1.1 innings of work.
Game two brought a pleasant February afternoon and improved weather.
Junior southpaw Justin Kamplain (0–0) was handed the ball to start the second game for Alabama.
Kamplain looked jittery early after giving up three earned runs in the first inning, but was able to recover and pitch four innings of scoreless ball.
Sophomore shortstop Mikey White led the Crimson Tide at the plate. White finished 3-for–5 with two runs scored.
Alabama slowly but steadily clawed away at the Billikens early three run lead and tied the game up in fifth at 3–3.
Freshman right-hander Nick Eicholtz and freshman left-hander Thomas Burrows (1–0) combined for four scoreless innings in relief. Burrows was credited with the win after totaling one strike out in his only inning of action.
The Tide took the 3–3 tie into the bottom of the ninth. After Mikey White and Ben Moore reached on two-out singles, redshirt junior Wade Wass came to the plate.
Wass was able to drive a single to left field and score Mikey White from second in walk-off fashion.
Damian Rivera (0–1) was given the loss after allowing six hits and one earned run in 3.2 innings pitched.
Sunday brought Spring-like weather for the fans in attendance at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
Alabama jumped out early in the second inning on St. Louis starter Josh Moore.
Ben Moore walked and stole second and Wade Wass reached on a 3–2 walk. Senior first baseman Austen Smith was able to drive both runners home after singling to centerfield.
St. Louis was able to tie the game at 2–2 in the top of the third on a two RBI single to center by third baseman Braxton Martinez.
Alabama’s bats were held quiet until the seventh inning, where the Tide showed some unseen offensive explosiveness.
In an inning that saw the Crimson Tide bat around, Alabama was able to plate seven runs and take a commanding 9–2 lead. The Tide forced St. Louis to run through three pitchers.
Ben Moore earned another RBI (3) in the inning after singling to left-center field. Kyle Overstreet also earned his first RBIs of the season scoring two runners on a single to right-center field.
Alabama junior right-hander Jay Shaw came in to work the eighth inning and pitched a scoreless inning that included one strikeout, his first of the year.
Redshirt sophomore right-hander Jake Hubbard was brought in to work the ninth for the Tide and surrendered one run before Alabama was able to seal the deal.
Middle-reliever Jon Keller (1–0) earned the win for Alabama and starter Ray Castillo threw three complete innings and allowed two runs on two hits.
St. Louis middle-reliever Zach Girrens (0–1) was credited with the loss after allowing four runs in one complete inning.
The Crimson Tide will host another weekend series beginning next Friday night. Stephen F. Austin (2–1, 0–0 Southland) will travel to Tuscaloosa to continue the young season.
The Lumberjacks opened the season in Arlington, Texas at the UT-Arlington Invitational. In which they faired well winning two games and dropping one to No. 18 Oklahoma State 3–1.
Friday night’s game will start at 6:05 p.m. CT and Saturday and Sunday’s games will start at 2:05 p.m. and 1:05 p.m. respectively.
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