March 18, 2014
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The No. 28 Alabama baseball team exploded for three home runs and a season-high 17 runs to defeat the Alcorn State Braves, 17-3, Tuesday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Austen Smith led a 14-hit outburst by the Tide by going 4-for-4 with three RBI and four runs scored in the game.
Alabama (13-6) and Alcorn State (1-21) will meet again Wednesday night for their second midweek matchup, with first pitch set for 5:05 p.m.
"For a Tuesday night game, this is what you want to see,” Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “Austen Smith had a big night going 4-for-4. It was good to see the ball leave the yard with two three-run homers in the first inning and we were on the barrel all night.”
Alabama’s 17 runs were the most it has recorded since the Tide defeated Illinois-Chicago 25-1 on February 27, 2010. Smith, the hottest hitter in the Tide lineup, had two singles, a double and a three-run home run, his second of the year, to increase hit team-leading batting average to .377 for the season.
With a home run in his first at-bat and one in his last against No. 20 Kentucky, Smith is the first Alabama player to homer in back-to-back at-bats since Jake Smith slugged back-to-back long balls at Samford on May 12, 2010.
Ben Moore also had a three-run home run in the first inning, staking the Tide to an early 3-1 lead and Kyle Overstreet added a solo shot in the sixth. Mikey White, J.C. Wilhite and Hunter Webb each added a pair of RBI, as Webb finished the game 2-for-5.
Geoffrey Bramblett (1-0) earned the first win of his career, striking out three in three perfect innings out of the bullpen. Making his fourth start of the season, Nick Eicholtz gave up one unearned run on three hits and two walks with four strikeouts in two innings. Taylor Guilbeau struck out a season-high four batters and gave up two runs (one earned) in two innings of relief. Colton Freeman and Cary Baxter closed the game with scoreless innings in each of their first appearances of the season.
“It was what we wanted, as well as to see some guys come to the bullpen that had not had an opportunity to,” Gaspard said. “Colton Freeman and Cary Baxter did a great job on the back end of the game and Geoffrey Bramblett was very sharp as well. It was a good clean Tuesday win. That is what you want after a good series like we had this weekend."
Jesus Vasquez (0-1) was charged with the loss for the Braves after allowing 11 runs (nine earned) on seven hits and a walk in five innings.
After a pair of walks was issued to Alcorn State, the Braves got their first run when Moore mishandled a bloop single to right field to go up 1-0 in the first.
Without wasting an out in the bottom of the first, Moore made up for his error with a three-run homer to left and Smith echoed Moore with a no-doubt home run on the first pitch to left to finish off the inning with a 6-1 advantage. The last time the Tide belted multiple home runs in a single innings was on April 2, 2013, when Smith and Kenny Roberts each had one against Southeastern Louisiana.
After Alcorn State’s Jared Listach scored in the third to cut the lead to 6-2, the Tide responded by scoring twice in the bottom of the inning. Alcorn answered with a run in the fourth to make the score 8-3, before Alabama exploded for nine runs over the next three innings, scoring three times in the fifth, four times in the sixth and two times in the seventh.
The Alabama fifth was highlighted by a two-run single by Webb and a RBI single from Salem. The Tide’ four-run sixth included Overstreet’s solo home run, Wilhite’s RBI single and White’s two-run single. Their scoring was capped off with Steven Cole scoring on a wild pitch and Taylor Poe scoring on a Wilhite’s sacrifice fly.
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Alabama Game Notes
*After the 18th meeting between the two clubs, Alabama is now 17-1 all-time against Alcorn State.
*Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard moved to 6-0 in his career when facing Alcorn State.
*Alabama is 13-0 this season when scoring at least three runs.
*Alabama tallied a season-high 17 runs, the most runs scored by the Tide since February 27, 2010, in a win over Illinois-Chicago.
*Alabama batters were hit seven times in tonight's game, tying a school record.
*Alabama freshmen pitchers have posted a combined 0.76 ERA (four earned runs in 47.1 innings) in all starts and relief appearances this season.
*Alabama freshmen relievers boast a 0.32 ERA by limiting opposing batters to one earned run in 28.1 innings.
*With his first-inning home run, Austen Smith became the first Alabama player to homer in consecutive at-bats since Jake Smith at Samford on May 12, 2010.
*Tonight is Smith's sixth multiple-hit game this season and the 45th multiple-hit game of his career.
*Smith continues to lead the team with his fifth multi-RBI game of the season, including his fourth with at least three RBI this season and the 31st multi-RBI game of his career.
*Smith put together his third game with at least three hits this season.
*Ben Moore recorded his third multi-RBI game of the season and the 22nd of his career.
*Taylor Guilbeau posted four strikeouts to set a season-high.
*Mikey White reached base safely for the 10th consecutive game, the longest streak for an Alabama player this season.
*Hunter Webb registered the second multi-hit game and the first multi-RBI game of his career.
*J.C. Wilhite notched his first career hit and the first multi-RBI game of his career.
*Geoffrey Bramblett tied his career high with three strikeouts, en route to the first win of his career.
*Colton Freeman made his first career appearance and recorded his first two career strikeouts.
*Cary Baxter made his first appearance of the season.