A fifth straight loss was a real possibility for the University of Alabama baseball team when Brock Love entered the game on Friday night. The Crimson Tide were trailing 3-0 and had just one hit when Love left the bullpen to relieve Nick Eicholtz.
Louisiana-Monroe had a runner on second, threatening to extend its lead. Love made sure that didn’t happen, striking out the final batter of the frame.
Love carried the Crimson Tide (4-5) the rest of the way in a 4-3 walk-off win against the Warhawks (4-6). He pitched the final 4 1/3 innings and was perfect. He struck out 10 of the 14 batters he faced, weaving 44 strikes through 63 pitches.
“I thought the guys were really locked in and real competitive, and I thought Brock fed off that,” head coach Greg Goff said. “When he was coming in, our guys were building off of him. I think that played a big part, his body language and how he came in the dugout afterward. Our players, I felt, started getting confident behind him.”
Love leaned heavily on his fastball, which topped out in the mid-90s. He struck out the side in the sixth and eighth innings. After the sixth inning, he
“I could tell,” he said. “I could locate really well and it was coming out really good. I just competed, every hitter, every pitch.”
First baseman Hunter Alexander singled up the middle for the game-winning hit with one out in the ninth. Catcher Kyle Kaufman went 2-3, starting both rallies for Alabama.
He singled in the bottom of the seventh while UA was still looking for its first score. Three doubles in the inning tied the game at 3-3, setting up the drama in the ninth. Alabama struggled before the seventh, with just two hits through six innings.
“Late in the game, when we were close to getting the starter out, we just kind of sat back on the breaking ball, because we knew he didn’t have any stuff to beat us with,” Alexander said.
Kaufman led off the ninth with a single and was lifted for pinch runner Connor Wright. He moved to second on a sac bunt, bringing Alexander to the plate. The big first baseman had doubled in the seventh, and Louisiana-Monroe’s center fielder was playing deep. Alexander’s single squeaked through the middle, and Wright came in to score the game-winning run.
“It’s a crazy game, and we’ve been on the other end of that stuff, too,” Goff said. “Just really proud of how these guys never gave up.”
Alexander finished the night 2-4 with three RBIs. Third baseman Connor Short was 2-3 with a double and drove in a run in the seventh inning. Eicholtz gave up three runs in the first two innings before settling in. He allowed six hits and two walks while striking out three.
Love wasn’t the starter, but he finished the night as the headliner.
“He’s a tremendous worker,” Goff said. “That’s why you saw what you see tonight, because of his preparation that nobody sees out here. Brock has just turned a corner physically and mentally. I’m really proud of where he is. We needed him.”