Baseball team wins 5th straight

Kevin Connell

The formula for an Alabama win this season has been straightforward: Score at least three runs.

Before Tuesday night, the No. 15 Crimson Tide baseball team had won all 19 of its games this season when it scored three or more runs.

Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard is well aware of that statistic.

“Trust me, I’m looking at that now,” Gaspard said. “Three runs has been the key for us.”

(See also “Alabama baseball teams completes second sweep of the season“)

On Tuesday night, the recipe held true. Alabama used a three-run inning in the third to reach its magic number in a 3-2 win over Louisiana-Monroe at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

The Crimson Tide (20-8, 6-3 SEC) scored all three of its runs in the third inning in three consecutive plate appearances. Sophomore center fielder Georgie Salem hit an RBI single, scoring sophomore third baseman Chance Vincent from second. Next, a dropped fly ball by the Warhawks left fielder on sophomore shortstop Mikey White’s at bat made it 2-0. Junior right fielder Ben Moore’s RBI sacrifice fly finally gave Alabama its all-important third run.

“When we get three, we start getting a little comfortable,” senior right-hander Tucker Hawley said. “It’s hard to keep pushing yourself once you get those three, it’s like we automatically know we’re going to win this game. Somehow it might not be pretty, but we’ll grind it out and figure out a way to win.”

Hawley (2-1, 0.92 ERA), making his second start of the season for Alabama, pitched five innings and allowed four hits and no walks with four strikeouts in the win. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in 18 1/3 innings.

(See also “Alabama baseball team carries historic momentum“)

“He battled,” Gaspard said. “I think he would be the first to admit that his stuff wasn’t great tonight – he had a lot of balls elevated. But he’s an old veteran. He knows how to pitch, and he can make a pitch when you have to.”

Both runs scored by the Warhawks went unearned for Hawley.

Junior right-hander Jay Shaw struck out three in relief in the sixth and seventh, and freshman Nick Eicholtz allowed only one walk in the eighth. Freshman closer Thomas Burrows picked up his third save of the season in the ninth. The bullpen didn’t allow any runs or hits.

“The bullpen’s been great,” Hawley said. “At this point, if we get three runs, we’ve got arms and the pitching to keep us right there in the game. Three runs, and we should win.”

Sophomore second baseman Kyle Overstreet missed the first game of his career due to a hamstring injury, and freshman catcher Will Haynie did not play due to a mild concussion he suffered against Ole Miss last Sunday. Overstreet is expected to return to the lineup Friday at Texas A&M, but no decision has been made yet for Haynie.

(See also “Alabama baseball reloaded for 2014“)