There were no dramatics, no comeback and no walk-off needed for the University of Alabama baseball team on Saturday. The Crimson Tide used solid pitching and timely offense to take an early lead against Louisiana-Monroe and finish with a 6-2 win.
Alabama (5-5) scored three runs in the second inning, but Louisiana-Monroe (4-7) inched back into the game and cut the lead to 3-2 in the top of the sixth inning. Then the Crimson Tide responded with three more runs in the bottom of the sixth. The Warhawks didn’t mount another rally from there.
“I think the biggest difference for us now, we’re not having one guy have a quality at-bat per inning,” head coach Greg Goff said. “I think we’re consistently putting some hits together and giving us a chance to score some runs. We’re still not at a final destination but we’re definitely working in the right direction.”
That clinches the series for Alabama before Sunday’s finale at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
Starting pitcher Jake Walters pitched six-plus innings, allowing six hits and no walks. Both of ULM’s runs were unearned. He threw 87 pitches and had four strikeouts. Walters burst out of the gate and only allowed one hit in the first three innings. That helped UA keep momentum from last night’s walk-off 4-3 win.
There was some extra intrigue for the matchup for Walters as well. His brother, Alabama manager Garrett Walters, was a catcher at ULM from 2014-16.
“He definitely circled this one on his schedule,” Jake Walters said. “I could tell, he was pumped up all day … I have a lot of respect for the guys in the other dugout today. I knew some of them through him. It was a fun game.”
Walters left the game after giving up a double in the top of the seventh. That brought on righty Garrett Suchey from the bullpen. The junior allowed just one hit and no walks on Saturday while earning the save.
He’s given up just one run on two hits in his last four combined outings, throwing 9.2 innings in those games.
“He’s just continuing to improve each week,” Goff said. “He’s definitely a guy we can trust to bridge that gap to (closer Davis) Vainer. Really pleased with him. He always wants the ball. That’s the biggest thing for him. He tells me every day, ‘Coach, I’m good.’ Especially in that reliever role, you have to have somebody that can do that.”
Ten different Alabama players combined for 12 hits in the win. That included pinch-hits from Tanner DeVinny and Sam Finnerty in the sixth to keep Alabama’s second rally going. Shortstop Chandler Avant was the only player to have multiple hits, going 3-4 with a double and RBI.
“I think what you’re seeing is, you’re starting to see our hitters relax a little more,” Goff said. “It’s contagious. I’m just really proud of how Coach Wells and Coach Simmons coached our hitters. They’re up here hitting early before we even start games. They made a commitment to improve.”