Production at plate leads UA to close win over JSU

Kevin Connell

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When a team gets hot at the plate, it’s often difficult for the other team to put an end to it.

That’s the case for Alabama, who for the fifth game in a row recorded double-digit hits in a 6-5 victory over the Jacksonville State Gamecocks Wednesday night.

The Crimson Tide (13-9, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) rallied from an early 4-2 deficit, scoring three runs in the bottom of the third inning to take a 5-4 lead that it would not let up the rest of the way. The Tide is now on its first three-game winning streak since February and has won five of its last six games.

“Every time they scored, we had the ability to answer in the front part of the game and had good offensive pressure throughout,” Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “Really that was the story of the game; once we got the lead there the bullpen did a nice job to hold the game right there toward the end.”

Sophomore right-hander Jake Hubbard (1-0) was credited with the win, allowing three hits and one run with three strikeouts and a walk in 2 1/3 innings after coming in as relief for sophomore starter Taylor Guilbeau. Hubbard was forced to shut down early after feeling “discomfort in his elbow” in the fifth inning.

“Right now, we’ll know tomorrow [on the injury], but we’re hoping for just an elbow strain,” Gaspard said. “Mechanically, we’ve changed some things with him. Sometimes that can cause irritation, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed right now with him.”

Junior first baseman Austen Smith and freshman second baseman Kyle Overstreet knocked in the first two runs of the third inning with back-to-back doubles down the first-base line. Freshman center fielder Georgie Salem provided the third run of the inning with an RBI single also to right field.

Smith led the way for the Tide for the second straight game after batting 3-for-3 at the plate with two RBIs and one run scored. In Tuesday night’s 15-7 win over Samford, Smith was 3-for-5 with three RBIs and a home run.

“In the box, I’ve just kind of relaxed a little bit, slowed everything down,” Smith said.

As a team, the Tide now has 69 hits and 55 runs scored in its last five games alone.

“We’re getting started pretty early, getting a good rhythm,” senior catcher Brett Booth said. “I think once you get started, it’s kind of contagious, everyone keeps hitting throughout the game.”

Freshman right-hander Ray Castillo was credited with his second save of the season after coming on to close it out for Alabama in the ninth.

The Tide will next play this weekend when it travels to Athens, Ga. to face the Georgia Bulldogs (8-12, 0-3 SEC) in its first SEC road series of the season. First pitches are set for Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.