Baseball enters first midweek matchup after big opening weekend


CW / Hannah Saad

Carey Reeder | @realCareyReeder, Staff Reporter

The opening weekend series for Alabama baseball produced more than just three wins. Freshman newcomers rang in the new year with strong performances, older faces established they are ready for the long haul this season and both the pitching and power are at high tide.

Alabama (3-0) posted 36 hits against Northeastern, 12 in each game, the most in a three-game series since Feb. 23-24, 2018 against Washington State. Freshman Owen Diodati led the Crimson Tide in most offensive categories, going 6 for 9 with five extra-base hits, included three home runs to right field and eight RBIs. A 2.000 slugging percentage, the highest in Division I baseball as of Tuesday night, earned the Ontario native the first SEC Freshman of the Week honors this season.

“Coach Bo [Alabama coach Brad Bohannon] talked a lot with me in the preseason about trusting myself in these situations and that helped a lot,” Diodati said. “For me it’s just taking it day-by-day and at bat by at bat. That’s easier said than done.”

Senior utility man Brett Auerbach earned his ‘UTL’ letters on the roster by playing center field on Friday, catcher on Saturday and third base on Sunday. Auerbach posted a productive weekend, going 4 for 11 with two doubles, two RBIs, one home run, two stolen bases and five walks.

“Brett is valuable in so many ways – he can help you win without getting a hit,” Bohannon said. “I tell him, ‘You’re going to play based on how other guys do,’ but I really trust him [to play different positions.]”

The Crimson Tide pitching staff showed its strong depth over the weekend by allowing 13 hits to Northeastern, the fewest in a three-game series since Feb. 13-15, 2015 against Maryland Eastern Shore where Alabama gave up 11.

Eleven different pitchers took their chance on the mound over the weekend and accumulated 29 strikeouts and six hitless innings combined. The starters — freshmen Connor Prielipp and Antoine Jean and sophomore Connor Shamblin — all fared well in their extended outings with two total earned runs allowed, both by Jean on Sunday. The team’s 0.67 ERA ranks third in Division I as of Tuesday night.

The Alabama bullpen was equally as impressive, with sophomores Tyler Ras and Jacob McNairy throwing three innings of one-hit baseball each and senior Casey Cobb and sophomore Chase Lee throwing two no-hit innings apiece.

Bohannon had been on record multiple times in the weeks leading up to Northeastern on how close the rotation is from No. 2 to No. 10, and after the performance over the weekend it may have become even more unclear for the third-year coach.

“We could’ve started McNairy today [Sunday] and brought Antoine in after him, or Casey Cobb too,” Bohannon said. “It’s a very good thing to have, and it’ll be a huge piece for whatever success we have this year.”

Alabama State is 3-0 on the season after a sweep of its games in the Andre Dawson Classic in New Orleans. The Hornets were scheduled to play UAB on Tuesday, but like Alabama’s home game against Troy, their game was postponed due to rain. Senior right-hander Will Freeman will get the start on the mound for Alabama.

“I’m excited to see [Freeman] out there; he was outstanding in the preseason,” Bohannon said. “The first weekend exceeded my expectations. The competition will get tougher, but those guys will get better too. But as a staff we’re commanding the ball well.”