There are still some things John Trousdale has to learn about college baseball. The University of Alabama freshman doesn’t have much experience at this point in his career.
But Trousdale got one experience he’ll remember for years to come on Wednesday night. He hit a grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning to give Alabama (19-29) a 12-2 win over Grambling State (22-28) at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. That home run gave the Crimson Tide a 10-run lead, ending the game early via mercy rule.
But Trousdale didn’t understand that right away.
“I was going through the handshake line there at the end, and they said ‘You walked it off,'” Trousdale said. “That’s not technically a walk-off, but I’ll take it.”
His teammates will take it, too. Alabama is on a four-game win streak now with six games remaining in the regular season. Wednesday was Alabama’s final midweek game this season; UA finished with a 6-5 record in midweek games.
Trousdale didn’t dare think that his first college home run would be a grand slam, or that it could end a game. He was 2 for 19 during his freshman season entering the night, and hit just one grand slam during his entire high school career.
“I was kind of floating a little bit,” he said. “It was great.”
The Crimson Tide appeared to carry momentum from its weekend sweep of Auburn into the early innings. UA’s first three batters all got a hit and all came around to score. First baseman Hunter Alexander hit a grand slam in the second inning to push the lead to 8-0. That threatened to invoke the mercy rule of a 10-run lead after seven innings.
Things slowed considerably from there. Alabama starter Deacon Medders threw a career-high six shutout innings on 97 pitches, but his offense didn’t add to the lead. The ACA product worked around three hits and two walks while striking out four. The Crimson Tide needed a reliable outing from him after playing 33 innings on Saturday and Sunday in its series against Auburn that drained the bullpen.
“I knew we had played a lot of innings and we had a big series coming up this weekend,” Medders said. “I knew my role was to go out there and fill it up, get ground balls and chew up innings, keep everybody rested for the weekend. I thought I was able to do that for the most part, mixing in and out with the fastball.”
Grambling scored two runs off Alabama reliever Tyler McMurray, one each in the seventh and eighth innings to cut the lead to 8-2. The Tigers weren’t threatening the lead, but were prepared to go the distance.
That was before Trousdale’s swing ended the night early. He capped a strong night for the Alabama offense. Shortstop Chandler Avant was 3 for 5 with a double and a triple. Catcher Alex Webb was 2 for 4 with an RBI and designated hitter Kyle Kaufman was 2 for 5 with an RBI. Alabama’s 12 runs was tied for third-most in a game this season
“Winning three this past weekend, coming in here and playing this midweek, sometimes you’ll stumble after you have a little success,” head coach Greg Goff said. “I thought our guys tonight came out with that same desire and hunger.”
Reach Ben Jones at email@example.com or 205-722-0196.