Alabama downs Auburn in game 2 of 3-game series

Kevin Connell

Before the seventh-largest crowd in Sewell-Thomas Stadium history, No. 9 Alabama held on late in the ninth inning to take down Auburn, 4-1, Saturday night to even the three-game series.

Kamplain, a junior left-hander, carried a one-hitter into the ninth inning and was just one out shy of a complete shutout before being pulled after the Tigers cut the lead to 4-1.

“He’s been really good his last three or four times out,” Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard said. “The difference was that I thought his command was a little better tonight. He still had a couple walks, but I thought he stayed in a lot of good counts, and that allowed him to get some early contact. That helped him keep his pitch count down, particularly in the front end of the game.”

Kamplain finished the game throwing 8 2/3 innings with three strikeouts, three walks and only three hits allowed on 125 pitches in the longest outing of his career.

On March 8, he threw seven no-hit innings in the Crimson Tide’s first combined nine-inning no-hitter in 72 years in a 7-0 win over Mississippi Valley State.

“I knew I had my good stuff in the bullpen before the game,” Kamplain said. “I was going to take my fastball on both sides of the plate, and anytime you do that before a game, it’s going to be a good outing.”

Until the ninth inning, the only hit he gave up came on a sacrifice bunt attempt turned infield single in the sixth when Kamplain and two Alabama infielders failed to cover first base after a miscommunication.

After striking out the first batter in the ninth, Kamplain allowed a double, followed by another strikeout, a walk and an RBI single before he was pulled in favor of freshman closer Thomas Burrows. Burrows picked up his fifth save of the year against the first batter he faced when Auburn’s Dan Glavenyak popped up to third base to end the game.

“I think this win was big for us,” Kamplain said. “We’ve been battling, grinding, so it was definitely a big win. I think this is going to get us rolling in the right direction.”

After back-to-back 2-1 losses to UAB on Wednesday and Auburn (21-15, 6-8 Southeastern Conference) on Friday, Alabama (23-11, 9-5 SEC) took far less time scoring two runs in front of an announced crowd of 6,142 fans Saturday.

Sophomore Kyle Overstreet tallied Alabama’s first run with a leadoff solo home run in the fourth inning, and junior Wade Wass added the second with an RBI single in the fifth.

Alabama, which hasn’t won a game scoring less than three runs this season, picked up the all-important insurance runs in the seventh when Auburn third baseman Connor Short committed an error with a wild throw to home on sophomore Chance Vincent’s grounder with the bases loaded. Junior Ben Moore scored from third, and Overstreet scored on second on the play to boost Alabama’s lead to 4-0.

Vincent finished the game 3-for-4 with an RBI to lead Alabama. As a team, Alabama had 13 hits – including 10 before Auburn picked up its first – but stranded 11 runners on base and grounded into double plays in four innings.

Still, it was a win Alabama needed to remain in first place in the crowded SEC standings.

“We needed that win,” Gaspard said. “After the last couple of games we played, just had to find a way to get one. We need to carry that momentum now into tomorrow.”