Louisiana-Monroe let the University of Alabama baseball team know right away that it wouldn’t be swept without a fight. The Crimson Tide was ready to fight back.
The Warhawks (4-8) pinned two runs on the board in the top of the first inning, but Alabama (6-5) held steady and recovered for a 10-3 win on Sunday at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
“Our guys didn’t flinch after getting down 2-0 early,” head coach Greg Goff said.
Alabama’s offense was aggressive and took advantage of miscues made by ULM early on. It scored in the bottom of the first when Cobie Vance was caught in a rundown between first and second, allowing Logan Carey to score from third. Alabama took the lead in the second on a two-run homer from Chandler Taylor.
It added to the lead when catcher Tanner DeVinny scored on a wild pitch in the fourth and Vance flied out to center, scoring Keith Holcombe from third. That gave Alabama a 6-3 lead and some breathing room before putting away the game late.
Duarte recovered after his rough first inning. The Warhawks had the bases loaded with no outs and Duarte walked in a run, but limited the damage to just one more run. He went 3 2/3 innings and allowed just those two runs, both unearned. Sophomore Sam Finnerty relieved him after 79 pitches. Finnerty picked up the win while allowing one run in 2 1/3 innings.
“You don’t come back if you don’t have some guys with courage out on the mound,” Goff said. “(Duarte) didn’t welter. We ask our pitchers all the time, just minimize, and he did. He gives up a two-spot, bases loaded with nobody out. I felt like that really helped us as we came back in and answered.”
DeVinny hit a three-run homer to left in the bottom of the seventh. ULM had scored a run in the top of the inning to cut the lead to 6-3, but DeVinny’s home run anchored Alabama in the lead. That margin held the rest of the way.
“It felt good coming off the bat,” DeVinny said. “My mindset there was just to put a fly ball in the outfield. We work on situational approach all the time in practice, working on doing what you have to do to get the runs in. Coach Goff and his staff have done a really good job of preparing us for that.”
That gave the Crimson Tide the opportunity to play some backups looking for experience. Fifteen different position players appeared in the game. DeVinny finished the day 2-3 with a walk and four RBIs. Taylor was 3-4 with two RBIs, and shortstop Chandler Avant was 2-5.
The win gave Goff his first weekend sweep as Alabama’s head coach. Alabama has a chance to build on that momentum with five more home games in the next week.
“This team has a lot of courage and a lot of energy,” Goff said. “You don’t know that until the lights come on. I’ve been just amazed at how unselfish and how much energy they have and how hard they play on a daily basis. Those are the things I think I’ve learned over the last few weeks. If we continue to do that, some great things can happen for this team.”