Hughston’s two-homer debut boosts Alabama to big win

Kevin Connell

Casey Hughston struck out in his one career at-bat coming into Saturday’s game against Stephen F. Austin.

In his next five career at-bats, he made the most of his opportunity.

Hughston, a freshman making his first career start, hit leadoff home runs in the second and seventh innings – both over the right field wall – to power No. 21 Alabama to an 8-0 win Saturday afternoon. Before Saturday, no player had ever hit a home run into the new right field section added at Sewell-Thomas Stadium this season.

“I just went up there with an approach, taking the ball to right field,” Hughston said. “Been working hard all week with the team, and I just happened to get a hold of one or two.”

Hughston finished the game 3-for-5 with three RBIs. His first home run, which gave the Crimson Tide the early 1-0 lead, was his first career hit.

“Casey Hughston took advantage of an opportunity and just had a tremendous day, couple home runs, had three big hits for us, I think that ignited us a little bit offensively,” Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard said. “Did some better things on offense, and it’s certainly far from perfect – we still got a long ways to go – but certainly today was a start on the right path.”

Alabama (3-2) entered Saturday’s contest coming off a 2-1 loss in 13 innings against the Lumberjacks (3-3) in which the Crimson Tide stranded 10 runners on base and recorded only nine hits with five coming from one player.

But on Saturday, the Crimson Tide had 11 hits from six different players with at least one run scored in six of the eight innings it went up to bat.

The Crimson Tide followed up Hughston’s leadoff home run in the second with runs in the third, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Alabama scored three runs – two on back-to-back RBI doubles from sophomore shortstop Mikey White and junior right fielder Ben Moore and the third on an RBI single from Hughston – to push its lead to 5-0.

When Hughston led off the seventh inning with his second home run of the day, it marked the first time an Alabama player has hit two homers in a single game since March 13, 2012 when Josh Rosecrans hit two in an 8-3 victory over Southern Miss.

Junior left-hander Justin Kamplain (1-0) pitched six shutout innings, allowing only three hits with seven strikeouts and no walks in the win. Freshman right-hander Nick Eicholtz and sophomore right-hander Mitch Greer combined to allow zero hits in three innings of relief.

Alabama will close out the series Sunday with sophomore right-hander Ray Castillo on the mound. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.