The University of Alabama baseball team filled up the scoreboard, then emptied the bench in an 14-1 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Friday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Crimson Tide (8-5) jumped out to a 7-0 lead after two innings and the Golden Lions (2-10) never fought their way back into the game.
Catcher Tanner DeVinny had a three-run homer that helped Alabama take a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the first. UA pressed its advantage with two more runs in the second inning and had all the breathing room it needed from there.
“Just really pleased with how our guys came out,” head coach Greg Goff said. “Last night they come right in there and got to where we were close, had a close game last night. I told our guys tonight, we had to finish tonight. 27 outs. I feel like our guys did a really good job of getting out to a lead early and then letting Jake settle in. Finally, one game out of the first 13 games that we’ve had, we had a little opportunity to relax.”
Alabama began pulling its starters in the sixth inning and used 17 different position players on the night. Shortstop Chandler Avant and first baseman Hunter Alexander were the only starters who remained in the game. Catcher Kyle Kaufman, who started on Thursday, was the only available position player who did not see action.
Friday’s game was also the first career start in centerfield for sophomore Sam Finnerty. He had started four of Alabama’s games this season as the left fielder and designated hitter.
Plenty of players had firsts on Friday night. Junior reliever Tyler McMurray made his first appearance of the season. So did junior Tyler Adams, who pitched the ninth inning.
Freshman Connor Wright entered in left in the eighth inning, his first career appearance in the field. Sophomore Zack Coker finished the game at second base, his first appearance in the field this season.
“That was great to see those guys that work hard,” Goff said. “This is the first game that we’ve had where we’ve kind of extended a lead. So it’s good to have an opportunity to see some other guys play.
Junior righty Jake Walters pitched six innings and gave up one earned run on five hits and a walk. He struck out five batters and finished with a season-high 95 pitches.
“I thought he did a really good job,” Goff said. “I thought he had really good stuff. He was throwing the fastball to both sides of the plate tonight. That was something we wanted to do and we were able to do that.”
Things kept going Alabama’s way as Arkansas-Pine Bluff turned to an overmatched bullpen. Alabama loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth inning, then drew three straight walks to push the lead to its final margin. Alabama finished the night with a season-high 11 walks and was one short of its season high with 13 hits.
“This game is a tough game,” Goff said. “For once, hopefully our guys can relax a little bit. I thought our offense was really good early. I thought our guys really used the whole field and hit some balls really hard early in the game. Hopefully we can take the momentum to tomorrow.”
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.