The first home run ball over the left field fence at Sewell-Thomas Stadium gave the University of Alabama the kind of breathing room it hasn’t often found lately.
The second and third home run balls helped the Crimson Tide make some additions to the record book. All three combined helped Alabama (15-22) beat Alcorn State (9-23) 18-1 in seven innings at Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Tuesday night.
“I’m just really proud of how they swung it tonight,” head coach Greg Goff said. “We haven’t had swings that good all year.”
First baseman Cody Henry hit two home runs, including a grand slam in the third inning. Shortstop Chandler Avant bashed another grand slam to left field in the sixth inning for his first career home run. Avant also extended his hit streak to 11 games, best on the team this season. His four RBIs were a career high.
Henry’s slam was Alabama’s first this season; Avant’s gave the Crimson Tide its first game with two grand slams since 2009. Alabama’s 18 runs were a season high despite the run rule shortening the game to seven innings.
“I’ve been having a certain approach I’ve been working on,” Henry said. “That’s just seeing the ball, seeing it deep. It helped a lot. Everybody has been working on their own thing and getting better. It really came together tonight.”
Freshman starter Deacon Medders gave up one run in five innings to pick up his first collegiate win. The ACA product allowed four hits and gave up one walk while striking out four. Alcorn State’s leadoff batter looped a fly ball into center, but center fielder Walker McCleney dove to keep it from falling in for a single.
“It was nice to get that first win under my belt, especially in the team win there,” Medders said. “Walker got it started with that huge diving play in left center, really settled me in. Got me feeling really good. I let the defense play behind me.”
Henry’s grand slam in the third inning was part of a rally that made it 6-0. His second homer came an inning later, pushing the lead to 9-0. He finished 3-5 with a career-high seven RBIs. Designated hitter Kyle Kaufman was 3-4 with an RBI.
Alabama tacked on three more runs in the fifth inning, and Avant’s slam in the sixth inning was part of the final rally. The Crimson Tide did not come to bat in the seventh.
Alabama used the later innings to get some reserves some live at-bats. Outfielder Connor Wright, third baseman John Trousdale, catcher Taylor Poe, second baseman Zack Coker and Alex Webb all got at least one plate appearance. Of the 14 Alabama players with plate appearances, 13 got on base.
“That’s what we talked about earlier, about getting those big hits in those RBI situations,” Goff said. “Tonight, those guys did it. They took some borderline pitches where we’ve been getting ourselves out and really made some great swings, getting balls they can drive. That’s the key. Really glad to see those guys have some clutch hitting.”
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