Midweek pitching is often a mixed bag in college baseball. Most teams use their best arms on the weekend, so there are no guarantees on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
Alabama’s midweek pitching has been sturdy early this season. The Crimson Tide got a shutout from five pitchers in a 3-0 win over No. 16 Southern Miss on Wednesday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
“Things are working for us, so we’re just going to keep at it and doing what we’re doing,” redshirt sophomore pitcher Brock Love said. “We’re doing something right.”
Redshirt freshman Garret Rukes threw three shutout innings to start the game. Love followed him with two more shutout innings. The pair has combined for 13 scoreless innings in Alabama’s four midweek games so far.
Three more relievers helped finish off the shutout of the Golden Eagles. Alabama has given up four total runs in four midweek games to start the season; Alabama is unbeaten in those games.
“It’s hard enough to pitch on the weekends, much less midweeks,” coach Brad Bohannon said. “These guys have been great. We’re tough to beat on Tuesdays and Wednesdays right now. I hope we’re still saying that eight weeks from now.”
Southern Miss’ pitching was strong as well. Alabama loaded the bases with no outs in the first but couldn’t score.
The offense finally broke through in the fourth. Hunter Alexander led off with a double. Keith Holcombe laid down a bunt single as Alexander moved to third. Chandler Avant doubled to drive Alexander in while Holcombe went to third. Holcombe scored on a fly ball to left field from shortstop Jett Manning.
“I think it helped us out a lot, getting to see their staff,” Avant said. “They have a good pitching staff and a good team in general. For us to see that before this weekend and SEC play coming up later, any pitching we can see like that helps us out.”
Avant led the offense, going 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Alabama got an insurance run in the eighth inning when Manning drew a leadoff walk, then stole second. He advanced to third on a ground ball and scored on a fielder’s choice.
Southern Miss had runners on second and third in the seventh inning, but hardly threatened otherwise. A leadoff walk in the top of the ninth made things interesting, but that was wiped away by a double play. The five Alabama pitchers only allowed two hits and four walks.
Alabama has now won nine straight at home. That’s the longest winning streak at home for the Crimson Tide since a 12-game streak in 2010.
“I told the kids yesterday, if we want to be a good team, the two things we have to do, we have to consistently play pretty good baseball and we have to beat some good teams,” Bohannon said. “If you beat multiple good teams at a time, heck man, you’re pretty good. (Southern Miss) was a very good club. I didn’t think we were exceptionally sharp today offensively, but obviously threw a shutout with five guys pitching. I was excited about the pitching staff tonight.”
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