White’s walk-off blast claims SEC series win for Alabama

Kevin Connell

Another series, another walk-off win.

For the third time in four weekend home series, Alabama claimed a three-game set with a walk-off winner, this time from a two-run home run from sophomore shortstop Mikey White in a 5-3 victory in the second game of a doubleheader against No. 20 Kentucky Saturday.

“It’s big,” Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard said. “These are the ones that, momentum-wise, that can really carry you for a while. We were really pleased with the way last night we competed. It could have been a sour note today, but we turned it around.”

Alabama (12-6, 2-1 SEC) struggled to string hits together in a 7-2 loss in the first game of the doubleheader against the Wildcats (14-6, 1-2 SEC) Saturday, but found life in the final possible at-bats it had left in the second game.

First, in the bottom of the ninth inning trailing 3-1 with two outs, senior first baseman Austen Smith hit a two-run home run over the left field wall on the first pitch he saw to send the game to extra innings.

Then, in the bottom of the tenth, White duplicated what Smith had already done with a two-run, first-pitch blast of his own to left field to lift Alabama to the series win on the opening weekend of Southeastern Conference play.

White said he knew exactly what he was going up against with Kentucky pitcher Spencer Jack after facing the junior right-hander in the first game earlier in the day.

“I knew that he threw a lot of fastballs, so I was trying to get a fastball and put a good swing on it and maybe drop something in the gap, so that [Daniel Cucjen] could get around and score from first,” he said.

Instead, White came up with his first career walk-off home run at any level.

“I would be just fine winning a couple games 8-2 and going through it, but hey, whatever you got to do to find a way to win,” Gaspard said. “Obviously, we were outplayed today probably 17 innings. We didn’t do a good job coming out, responding from a big win last night. … But really at the end of the day, the way this game finished, it’s about competing. I think our guys had a will about them today and just found a way to get it done.”

In the top of the fifth inning, Kentucky’s A.J. Reed, who leads the nation in home runs, hit his ninth home run of the season with a three-run blast over the right field wall to put the Wildcats up 3-1.

In the first game, Kentucky did most of its damage with a pair of two-run home runs – including the first by an opponent to the new right field section at Sewell-Thomas Stadium – in the top of the first inning to take the early 4-0 lead.

Alabama’s best chance at a rally in that game trailing 7-2 was in the eighth inning when the Crimson Tide loaded the bases with two outs but was unable to get anything out of it.

Junior left-hander Justin Kamplain (2-2) was handed the loss after allowing six runs, five earned, on six hits in the first game.

Freshman reliever Thomas Burrows (3-0) was credited with the win for Alabama in the second game after allowing no hits and no runs against the Wildcats’ top-ranked offense in the tenth inning.

Alabama will conclude its nine-game home stand with a two-game set against Alcorn State on Tuesday and Wednesday.