Alabama makes history in sweep of Delta Devils

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Kevin Connell

For the second game in a row, the Alabama baseball team made history.

The Crimson Tide completed its first series sweep of the season with a 3-0 win over Mississippi Valley State on Sunday afternoon. It was the third straight shutout win for Alabama, which hasn’t been done in program history since a three-game set against Marion Institute in 1912.

Overall, Alabama has pitched 30.2 consecutive scoreless innings without conceding a run, a streak that dates back to the sixth inning of the Capital City Classic against Auburn last Wednesday.

“It means you’re throwing the ball good from the mound,” Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard said. “There was a few records that were broke this weekend on the mound. But [we’re] real encouraged with the way we’re throwing the ball, and not just today or this weekend, but we’ve been pitching it good all year. We felt from the beginning that we’re deep on the mound.”

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On Saturday, Alabama threw its first nine-inning no-hitter since 1942 in a combined effort from Justin Kamplain, Jay Shaw and Geoffrey Bramblett in a 7-0 win over the Delta Devils.

Kamplain finished with a career-high 12 strikeouts, which included a streak where he struck out the entire MSVU lineup in order, nine straight. Gaspard pulled Kamplain after the seventh with a pitch count of 98 to rest him ahead of the start of Southeastern Conference play next weekend.

In Friday night’s contest, the Crimson Tide began its shutout streak behind junior right-hander Spencer Turnbull, who allowed only three hits with seven strikeouts in seven innings of work in the 8-0 victory.

Sunday’s pitching didn’t waver from the performances seen in the first two games of the series.

Junior lefty Jon Keller (4-0) allowed only one hit with seven strikeouts in six innings in his start of the season. Keller has now won in each appearance he has made this season after coming in as a reliever in the previous three Sunday games for Alabama.

Keller’s one hit allowed, which he gave up in the fourth inning with two outs, ended a streak of 14 hitless innings by Alabama pitchers that began in the eighth inning Friday night.

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“It’s nice to have it on Sunday. That allows such a critical game on Sunday,” Gaspard said about Keller’s appearances this season. “We probably got our hottest guy pitching in that Sunday spot.”

Sophomore Ray Castillo, who started the previous three Sunday games this season, allowed only one hit in two innings of relief. Sophomore second baseman Kyle Overstreet picked up the save in the ninth in his first career pitching appearance.

The Crimson Tide scored all three of its runs in the third inning. Junior right fielder Ben Moore started the scoring with a two-run double down the left field line. In the next at bat, junior designated hitter Wade Wass singled up the middle to score Moore from second.

Moore led the way for Alabama over the weekend with a .545 batting average, six hits and four RBIs.

Alabama will look to continue its season-high five-game winning streak at home Tuesday night against Samford.

(See also “Alabama baseball reloaded for 2014“)