Northern Kentucky’s pitchers left the door wide open for Alabama’s offense on Sunday. The Crimson Tide hitters were able to walk straight through, then keep on walking.
Alabama had just six hits in a 10-1 win to finish off a sweep of Northern Kentucky on Sunday at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Crimson Tide finished the game with a season-high 12 walks and three batters were hit by a pitch.
“This sounds like something you would tell a little league team. Hitting is really hard, right? If you can just do a good job of swinging at balls within the strike zone and taking the pitches that are outside the strike zone, you dramatically increase your chances of hitting the ball hard and getting a hit,” coach Brad Bohannon said. “That sounds super basic and simple and it is, but it’s so hard when you have three- or four-tenths of a second to decide whether to swing or not.”
Alabama entered the series with 78 walks in 14 games, tied for sixth in the nation. The Crimson Tide had four walks in Friday’s 15-1 win and 10 walks in Saturday’s 9-4 win, bringing the season total to 104 walks in 17 games.
Eleven different players reached base. Alabama scored four runs in the second inning, four more in the fourth and pushed two runs across in the fifth despite not recording a hit in the inning.
“When each guy is up there drawing walks, sometimes there’s guys on base and as a hitter you want to be really aggressive, but when a guy is struggling you have to keep letting him struggle,” right fielder Tyler Gentry said. “Eventually runs are going to come.”
Gentry was 0-2 but had two walks, drove in a run and scored twice. Left fielder Keith Holcombe was 1-2 with a walk and a game-high three runs batted in. Freshman T.J. Reeves was 2-3 with an RBI and was the only Alabama player with multiple hits.
Starting pitcher Wil Freeman gave Alabama solid footing early. He threw 5 2/3 innings and gave up just one run in the fifth inning. He allowed six hits and one walk while striking out four in his longest outing of the year. Garret Rukes, Dylan Oliver and Deacon Medders were perfect out of the bullpen as they recorded the final 10 outs of the game.
“I’m really proud of Wil’s outing,” Bohannon said. “He’s gotten better of every time out. He’s a guy we had high expectations for when we signed him when he came in. He’s doing a good job of throwing his fastball to both sides of the plate, his breaking ball for a strike.”
Alabama has now won 11 straight games. That’s the longest winning streak for the program since it won 16 straight in 1999.
Reach Ben Jones at email@example.com or 205-722-0196.