Nick Eicholtz to pitch in Capital City Classic

Kevin Connell

It will only be his fourth collegiate appearance, but Nick Eicholtz already has a chance to make Alabama baseball history.

Eicholtz, a freshman right-handed pitcher from Odessa, Fla., will start Tuesday in the sixth annual MAX Capital City Classic against Auburn in Montgomery in a game the Crimson Tide has never won.

“Yeah, they’ve all been telling me about it, how we’ve lost five in a row,” Eicholtz said. “That’s something that I really want to change.”

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Eicholtz has been a revelation for the Crimson Tide this season, allowing only 6 hits and 4 walks while striking out 7 and posting a 0.00 ERA in 10 innings pitched.

In his first career start last Wednesday at Southern Miss, Eicholtz was charged with only 1 unearned run on 4 hits with 4 strikeouts in 5.0 innings of work in a 2-1 loss.

So why has he been so effective so early on in his career?

“I mean there’s a couple things,” Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard said. “One is he’s talented. Really good command. Uses both sides of the plate with his fastball. Breaking ball was really sharp on Wednesday night at Southern Miss.

“He looked like a veteran out there, just the way that he handled himself, the way he worked out of a couple tough spots.”

In last season’s Capital City Classic, the Crimson Tide posted just 3 hits, while committing 3 errors in a 6-3 loss to the Tigers.

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Although this game only counts toward the overall record and not Southeastern Conference play, it’s a game Alabama seniors hope to finally win because of its unique setting.

“It’s a big game. There’s a lot of friends, fans out there. It’s an electrifying crowd, I mean, just like SEC play it just gets us ready for that,” senior first baseman Austen Smith said. “[We’re] pretty hungry. I mean, I’ve been here four years, but I think this is the year we’re going to get it done.”

Gaspard said it is a unique experience for his team to be a part of.

“It’s a football environment, really, for a baseball game. It makes our guys and our coaching staff, for that one night, really feel like a pro,” Gaspard said. “And the way it’s put on and the way we’re treated in the clubhouse and for the fans, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.”

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Alabama will meet Auburn in conference play for a three-game set April 11-13 in Tuscaloosa.