Tide’s win avoids weekend sweep

Kevin Connell

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After two straight games of struggling at the plate, the Alabama baseball team’s bats came to life Sunday afternoon with a 12-6 victory over the Tulane Green Wave. The Crimson Tide improved to 8-3 on the season with the win.

After beginning the season 6-0, Sunday’s win spared the Tide from getting swept for the first time all season. Alabama swept VMI and took two out of three against Florida Atlantic in their first two series of 2013.

“The biggest thing today was the win,” Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said after Sunday’s win. “We needed to get a win this weekend and after really struggling on the offensive end in the first two games it was nice to get some flow in the lineup.”

In game one, the Tide was shutout for the first time all season in a 4-0 loss. Tulane sophomore pitcher Tony Rizzotti (2-1) dominated the Tide in seven scoreless innings, throwing 10 strikeouts and allowing only five hits and a walk in the win.

Things didn’t get much better Saturday afternoon in game two for the Tide, where it again struggled to get into a rhythm at the plate in a 6-2 defeat.

But Sunday’s game revealed a side of Alabama that has not been seen all season.

Tide batters pounded the Tulane pitching staff with 12 runs on 10 hits, including the first two extra base hits off of back-to-back doubles in the sixth inning from freshman shortstop Mikey White and sophomore right fielder Ben Moore.

“I think after the last two days, [where] we kind of struggled, we made up our minds that we didn’t want to struggle a third day in a row,” Moore said. “We wanted to avoid the sweep, so we came out here with a chip on our shoulders.”

Freshman right-hander Ray Castillo (2-0) was credited for the win after coming on in relief for sophomore starter Spencer Turnbull in the fifth inning. Castillo retired 13 of the 14 batters he faced, including nine straight after entering the game. The lone hit he allowed in 4 1/3 innings pitched was a solo home run to right field from sophomore designated hitter Richard Carthon in the eighth inning.

“I thought Ray Castillo did a really good job again out of the bullpen for us,” Gaspard said.

Castillo threw six of the 40 strikeouts the Tide threw as a team in the series. Senior right-hander Charley Sullivan led the team with 12 in the first game of the series on Friday.

It looked like Sunday’s game was going to a repeat of the first two games of the series after sophomore right-hander Spencer Turnbull gave up three straight singles in the first inning. Turnbull settled down after that, and the Tide escaped the inning allowing only one run.

After a couple of innings of minimal action, the Tide took the lead for the first time all series with a four-run fourth inning to make it a 4-1 game.

The Green Wave quickly responded in the following inning to make it a 5-4 game giving the appearance that this just wasn’t the Tide’s series.

But a six-run sixth inning led by White and Moore’s doubles put the Tide ahead for good at 10-5 en route to the win.

Freshman second baseman Kyle Overstreet and junior first baseman Austen Smith both recorded two hits and three RBIs with Moore chipping in two more RBIs and scoring two runs.

After a rough start to the series, Smith put it all into perspective.

“You have your ups and downs in baseball, so it’s a roller coaster sport; you never know what you’re going to get,” he said.

The Tide plays next Tuesday in the Capital City Classic at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery, Ala., against rival Auburn. The first pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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