Brett Auerbach was standing in the dugout in the bottom of the eighth inning with an Alabama record already in his pocket, even if he didn’t know it yet.
Alabama’s third baseman had tied a school record by going 5-5 against Northern Kentucky.
“I did not want Brett to get back up to bat,” coach Brad Bohannon joked. “I was like ‘Nobody goes 6-6.'”
Nobody at Alabama, at least. Alabama made the final out of the eighth with Auerbach in the hole. The Crimson Tide won 15-1, and there would be no need for the home team to bat in the bottom of the ninth.
“I made a couple of adjustments in my swing and hit the ball hard and found some holes,” Auerbach said.
Several other Alabama players have also registered five hits in a game; Chandler Taylor was the last to do it on Feb. 24, 2016. He raised his batting average from .236 to .300 on the day. He had two doubles and drove in three runs. Auerbach had struggled at times earlier this year, but is still one of just two players to play in all 14 games for Alabama this season.
“That’s baseball,” he said. “Sometimes you hit balls hard right at guys, but you have to keep grinding and good things will come.”
Alabama’s 15 runs were the most scored in a game since a 16-2 win over Valparaiso in the 2018 season opener. The game was well in hand early, when the Crimson Tide hung five runs in the second inning and two more in the third.
Alabama had a 14-0 lead after the fifth inning, and Bohannon begin making substitutions in the sixth. Every position player who started would eventually leave the game, except for Auerbach. Eleven different players combined for 18 hits on the day.
“A lot of hard contact throughout the lineup,” Bohannon said. “We’ve been talking about executing better offensively. We got a couple of big hits early to bust it open. A lot of guys got in there and did a good job. Just a really good win for us.”
Senior Sam Finnerty threw 7 innings and gave up one earned run on 88 pitches. He six strikeouts, the most in his career as a starter. Freshman Dylan Smith and junior Dylan Oliver closed out the eighth and ninth, respectively. Alabama did not allow a walk for the first time this season.
“It takes some maturity after a game like that to come out the next day and to respect the game and play to your standard and not necessarily the opponent,” Bohannon said. “A lot of things went our way today. They hit some balls right at us and we had some soft contact hits. When we play tomorrow, it may be the other way around. We might hit some balls hard at them and they may hit some ground balls that find holes. We’ve certainly seen that earlier this year.”
The second game of the series will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday with rain in the forecast for later in the day. Junior Wil Freeman is now scheduled to start Sunday’s finale.
Reach Ben Jones at email@example.com or 205-722-0196.