Wednesday, March 09, 2005
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Sophomore left-hander Brandon Belcher pitched seven strong innings, allowing three runs (one earned), three hits, with seven strikeouts and junior third baseman Evan Bush added two hits and three as the University of Alabama defeated the Birmingham Southern Panthers 8-3 Wednesday night at "The Joe".
Belcher (1-0) won for the first time this season in four starts for the Crimson Tide. He had lasted only 3 2/3 innings in each of his previous three starts, all wins for the Crimson Tide.
The Panthers (5-6) jumped on the board early in the top of the first inning, when second baseman Jonathan Sanford doubled down the left field line, scoring center fielder Scott Billak.
The Tide (13-3) answered in the bottom of the first when third baseman Bush singled to drive home shortstop Cale Iorg. Bama took the lead when Morrow Thomley singled to score Allen Rice, giving the Tide a 2-1 lead.
Bama would add another run in the bottom of the fifth inning, when catcher Kody Valverde scored after Matt Grooms hit into a double play. In the bottom of the sixth, Thomley got his second RBI of the night when he singled up the middle to drive in Bush. Thomley then scored on a throwing error by Birmingham Southern catcher Blake Burton after the Tide right fielder stole third base, making the score 5-1 Bama.
After the Panthers scored two runs in the top of the seventh, Bush struck again with a 2-run double to score Rice and Iorg.
Matt Bentley would drive in the final run of the night for the Tide in the bottom of the eighth inning, driving in Emeel Salem to seal an 8-3 victory for the Crimson Tide.
Belcher's seven innings were the most this season for the sophomore pitcher. It was his first win on the mound since beating Vanderbilt on April 10, 2004.
"I had control of all my pitches tonight," said Belcher, "I felt like I was able to settle down, throw strikes, and get all my pitches working. I felt like I was challenging hitters a little bit better tonight. I kept my walks down, and that really helped."
The win marked the eighth straight for Alabama, improving the Tide's record to 13-3 on the season.
Next up for the Crimson Tide is a weekend series with Miami University at "The Joe". Friday's game is scheduled to start at 6:30 pm.
*Alabama extended its winning streak to eight straight games with an 8-3 win over Birmingham Southern on Wednesday night. Overall, the Crimson Tide has won 12 of its last 13 games dating back to Feb. 13. The Crimson Tide has also won all 11 home games this season.
*Alabama is 13-0 this season when scoring three or more runs.
*The Crimson Tide wore red jerseys and white pinstripe pants tonight for the first time this season.
*Sophomore Brandon Belcher won his first game of the season with seven strong innings against Birmingham Southern. The Ruston, La., native allowed one earned run and three hits, with one walk and seven strikeouts in throwing 95 pitches.
*Belcher, who missed the last four weeks of the 2004 season with an elbow injury, won his first game for the Crimson Tide since beating No. 25 Vanderbilt 3-1 on April 10, 2004.
*Prior to the BSC game, Belcher had made three starts this season and had not pitched longer than 3 2/3 innings in any start.
*Alabama has scored 35 runs in Belcher's four starts this season.
*Belcher (7) and junior RHP Matt Downs (3 K) combined for 10 strikeouts in the win over BSC to give Alabama double-figure strikeouts in its last four games. Bama has 58 strikeouts in those four games.
*Junior third baseman Evan Bush has posted three straight multiple hit games after his 2-for-3, 3 RBI performance tonight against BSC. Bush tied the game with an RBI single in the Crimson Tide's two-run first inning and then salted the game away with a two-run double in the seventh to give the Tide a 7-3 lead.
*In his last three games, Bush is 6-for-10, with five runs scored and nine RBI. He leads Alabama with four home runs and 21 RBI in 15 games.
*Senior second baseman Allen Rice singled and scored in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. During the streak, Rice is batting .429 (15-for-35), with eight runs scored, four doubles and seven RBI.
*Senior right fielder Morrow Thomley is 4-for-7 in his last two games for the Crimson Tide, with three runs scored and five RBI. Thomley had two hits and two RBI in the win over Birmingham Southern, including an RBI single in the first inning that gave the Crimson Tide the lead for good.
*Redshirt freshman Matt Bentley started at first base in the win over BSC and collected two hits and one RBI in the win.
*Alabama (5) and BSC (3) combined for eight errors on Wednesday night. The five errors matched a season-high for the Crimson Tide.