Feb. 15, 2014
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - In his first collegiate start at catcher, Wade Wass delivered a two-out walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth to lift the No. 21-ranked Alabama baseball team to a 4-3 win over the Saint Louis Billikens on Saturday afternoon from Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
Alabama and Saint Louis are now 1-1 on the season and will play the rubber game of the three-game series on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. CT.
With the first two batters grounding out to start the Alabama ninth inning, shortstop Mikey White and right fielder Ben Moore stroked singles to short and left field, respectively, to keep the inning alive. On a 1-0 pitch from SLU pitcher Damian Rivera, Wass singled through the left side to score White from second for the game-winning run.
"One key to the game, after a rough first inning, was that (Justin) Kamplain settled in and gave us four zeros and kept us there," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "We were able to get a couple of runs in the third and then the bullpen did a super job. Two freshmen came in - Nick Eicholtz and Thomas Burrows- and Burrows did a really good job there at the end, especially for the first time taking the mound here at Alabama.
Wass rounded out the afternoon with a 2-for-3 performance that included a single, a double, two walks and two RBI. White was 3-for-5 with a triple, two singles and two runs scored and Moore was 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
Freshman lefty Thomas Burrows (1-0) picked up the win after throwing a perfect ninth inning in his collegiate debut. Also in his first collegiate appearance, right-hander Nick Eicholtz pitched three scoreless innings, striking out one and allowing two hits and two walks.
Rivera (0-1) was charged with the loss for Saint Louis after giving up the game-winning run in the ninth. Rivera struck out one in 3.2 innings and gave up six hits to Tide batters.
"Offensively it was a little scattered, but they pitched extremely well," Gaspard said. "Their starter (was throwing) 90-94 and had three pitches he threw for strikes. Then they had a soft tossing lefty that commanded three pitches. We finally got something going, and then, obviously, in the ninth inning we put three good at-bats together to win the game. I tip my hat again to Saint Louis. They are a really good ball club and have done a great job the first two days here."
Saint Louis benefitted from early Alabama miscues, as Crimson Tide starter Justin Kamplain hit leadoff batter Michael Bozarth and allowed him to advance to third on a throwing error on Alec Sole's bunt single. The Billikens got each of the two base runners in, the first on a Braxton Martinez sacrifice fly, which was followed by a Mike Vigliarolo two-run home run, giving the Billikens a 3-0 lead after a half inning.
Daniel Cucjen sparked the comeback with his third-inning leadoff home run. Cucjen, who was making his first start of the season at third base, hit the first pitch he saw off the left-field foul pole for the Tide's first run of the game. Later in the inning, White tripled to left center field with one out and scored the second run of the inning on a Moore sacrifice fly.
Alabama tied the game in the fifth inning when Moore scored from first on a two-out RBI double to left field by Wass.
Following the three-run first inning, Alabama starting pitcher Justin Kamplain did not surrender a hit for the remainder of his outing, allowing only two base runners on walks. He allowed three hits and struck out five in as many innings in his first start of the season. From there, Alabama freshmen Eicholtz and Burrows blanked the Billikens to set up the Tide's late inning dramatics.
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Alabama Game Notes
- Third baseman Daniel Cucjen accounted for the Tide's first home run of the season with his first career home run in the bottom of the third inning.
- Mikey White's two singles and triple marked his 20th career multi-hit performance and sixth career three-hit game.
- With today's performance, Alabama freshmen pitchers have combined for seven scoreless innings pitched this season.