At a later point in his career, Connor Shamblin might have had a chance to make Alabama baseball history with a showing like his start on Sunday. But in his second career start, he’ll have to settle for five no-hit innings.
“Obviously it’s good to throw like I did today,” Shamblin said. “It just started with trusting my stuff and just throwing strikes. I had a great defense behind me and they always tell me ‘Trust us and see what happens.'”
Shamblin and the Alabama bullpen shut out Ball State 6-0 to close out the series against the Cardinals (2-5). Alabama (5-2) lost the second game of the series 8-5. That game concluded earlier in the day after being suspended due to rain on Saturday.
Shamblin threw 67 pitches as he continued to build up his endurance early in the season. He gave up one walk in the second inning that was wiped away by a double play, facing the minimum through five innings and striking out one.
“Really good win for us,” coach Brad Bohannon said. “It obviously started with Connor. The pitching was just outstanding today. Connor did a great job of throwing his breaking ball for a strike, had five no-hit innings. Casey Cobb came in and really attacked with his fastball, commanded it to both sides. Jeremy Randolph was awesome in the ninth.”
Cobb threw three innings, allowing one hit and one walk. Randolph pitched the ninth and struck out the side. All three pitchers who contributed to the shutout are new to the roster this season.
They also got support from their offense. Alabama scored one run in the bottom of the first on back-to-back doubles from second baseman Morgan McCullough and left fielder Keith Holcombe to take a 1-0 lead. Alabama is 5-0 in games in which it scored in the first inning.
Holcombe finished the day 3 for 3 with 4 RBIs and a stolen base to lead the offense while batting fourth. He had a sac fly in the bottom of the third and singled up the middle to score two more runs in the bottom of the fifth. He leads the team with 14 RBIs.
“Honestly, it just comes down to doing your job,” Holcombe said. “Right now I’m seeing it well, relaxed up there. I’ll keep working on the stuff that I need to work on there, but I’ll just stay up there and keep doing my job.”
Catcher Brett Auerbach also collected three hits, including a double and an RBI. Center fielder Joe Breaux was 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI and first baseman Drew Williamson was 2 for 4. Alabama struck out only three times in the win.
Alabama couldn’t come back in the first game of the day. Ball State finished off an 8-5 win after resuming play in the middle of the seventh with a 7-4 lead. The Cardinals used sophomore righty Kyle Nicolas to finish the game. He had started the Saturday game for them last week.
Nicolas retired the side in the seventh and eighth, then Ball State scored one run in the top of the ninth. Alabama loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to bring the tying run to the plate. Third baseman John Trousdale drew a walk to score one run, but pinch hitter Sam Praytor hit a fly ball to right field that ended the game.
Praytor did not start the final game of the series. He left Friday’s game after appearing to tweak his elbow while warming up between innings. Praytor is expected to be fine and could have played on Sunday if needed, but Bohannon said he wanted to be conservative about bringing him back.
Reach Ben Jones at email@example.com or 205-722-0196.