Wass hits walk-off to claim series

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Kevin Connell

For the second time in six games, Alabama saved its best hitting for last.

Wade Wass hit a pinch-hit single on the final at bat of the game for the second week in a row to give No. 21 Alabama a 3-2 walk-off win in 10 innings in the series finale against Stephen F. Austin on Sunday afternoon.

“It was almost the exact same. High fastball, and I just got my hands inside and pulled it,” Wass said with a huge smile.

Last Saturday in the season-opening series against Saint Louis, Wass hit a walk-off single through the left side just as he did on Sunday to lift the Crimson Tide to its first win of the season.

(See also “Wass lifts Alabama to first win of the season in walk-off fashion“)

“I’ve been feeling really good up there, kind of just slowing everything down and just having fun pretty much,” Wass said.

Alabama (4-2) opened the series this weekend with a 2-1 loss in 13 innings Friday night in a game in which the Crimson Tide left runners in scoring position in five straight innings with a chance to win.

On Saturday, freshman Casey Hughston hit two solo home runs to right field – the first home runs ever hit into the new right field section at Sewell-Thomas Stadium – in his first career start to power Alabama to an 8-0 win that evened the series at 1-1.

(See also “Hughston’s two-homer debut boosts Alabama to big win“)

Sunday’s game featured aspects from the two previous games.

Alabama struggled for much of the game to score runs, leaving runners in scoring position in the second and fifth with a chance to take control of the game.

But in the bottom of the eighth inning, sophomore second baseman Kyle Overstreet tied it up at 2-2 with his first career home run, a solo shot over the left-field wall.

In the 10th inning, Overstreet, who was hitting .143 for the season coming into Sunday, recorded his second hit of the game with a single up the middle on what would prove to be the winning run.

“One thing about Overstreet is he’s good in big situations. That’s the one thing he proved last year as a freshman,” Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard said. “When the game’s on the line, you need his best at bat in those spots. He has that ability to give you that great at bat just when you need them.”

Junior left-hander Jon Keller (2-0) picked up the win for the second straight Sunday coming in as a reliever for sophomore starting pitcher Ray Castillo.

Keller got out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth, walking in only one run, and stranded runners on second and third in the eighth. For the day, he gave up only two hits and one walk, while striking out six.

“That’s two really good outings for Jon, and he did a lot of that for us as a freshman, where he pitched real consistent,” Gaspard said. “We need him. He’s a guy that we do trust … so we need him to be a force in that bullpen like he’s been.”

Alabama had a chance to win it in the ninth when sophomore shortstop Mikey White came up to bat with the bases loaded with two outs, but he flew out to right field to send the game into extra innings at 2-2.

The Crimson Tide will hit the road for the first time this season when it travels to Southern Miss on Wednesday, followed by a weekend series at No. 14 Louisiana-Lafayette beginning Friday.

(See also “UA baseball team sees expectations rise for 2014 season“)