UA baseball team carries historic momentum

Kevin Connell

Few teams, if any, have ever had a week like the Alabama baseball team just had.

In one of the most historic weeks in program history, the Crimson Tide pulled off three of the rarest feats in baseball.

On March 8, Justin Kamplain, Jay Shaw and Geoffrey Bramblett combined to throw the first nine-inning no-hitter for Alabama in 72 years against Mississippi Valley State. That weekend, Alabama also had its first series shutout since 1912, which included a scoreless-inning streak of 37 straight that didn’t end until the seventh inning against Samford the following Tuesday.

(See also “Alabama pitching streak breaks against Bulldogs“)

Then, Friday night, in the Southeastern Conference series opener against then-No. 20 Kentucky, Alabama escaped a bases-loaded jam with its first triple play in 15 years.

Finally, on the last pitch of the week, in the series finale against the Wildcats Saturday, sophomore shortstop Mikey White blasted a two-run walk-off home run in extra innings to clinch the three-game series. It was the third time the Crimson Tide has won in its final at bat this season after junior catcher Wade Wass hit two walk-off singles in Alabama’s first two series this season.

(See also “White’s home run claims series“)

Alabama is the only team out of 296 Division I college baseball teams to do all three this season, let alone in a single week.

“We talk about this a lot, so it’s good to see it, and it’s good for our guys,” Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard said. “That’s what keeps you battling when you’re down is knowing the fact that we can still win the game if we just keep grinding it out.”

Alabama’s play in that span also led to positive results. The Crimson Tide won five of its six games last week, which included a streak of seven straight – its longest since 2011 – dating back to the previous week.

“I think that’s part of being at Alabama. I mean, there’s an expectation to win, and you got to keep grinding, and I think that’s the one thing with a young team,” said Gaspard, who has given substantial playing time to seven true freshmen — three pitchers, four position players — through 18 games so far this season.

With SEC play now underway, the combination of winning and historic play comes at a near perfect time for the Crimson Tide, which travels to Arkansas this weekend after a two-game midweek series against a struggling Alcorn State team Tuesday and Wednesday.

(See also “Alabama baseball reloaded for 2014“)