Alabama baseball clinched its weekend series against Northern Kentucky with a 9-4 win on Saturday at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Crimson Tide briefly fell behind 1-0 in the second before scoring in the next five frames to keep the Norse from climbing back into it.
Things settled down for Alabama after starter Brock Love found his rhythm. He needed more than 40 total pitches to get through the first two innings, but needed just six in the third inning and seven in the fourth inning to extend his day.
“I was glad to get the win,” coach Brad Bohannon said. “We hit a lot of balls hard. Brock gave us a good start. Just got a little sloppy late. We got up 7-1 and didn’t keep them down when we had them. It got a little hairy there for a second. Glad to get the win but would like for us to consistently put together nine innings.”
Alabama scored one run in the third inning, then two runs in each of the next four. That helped build a cushion that Northern Kentucky wouldn’t overcome.
“I scuffled a little bit in the first two innings, got behind in the count,” Love said. “That led to more pitches than I would have liked to have thrown. That’s just reality sometimes. Struggled to find the zone and not as consistent to start the game. Later in the game I kind of got in a rhythm, started getting ahead in the count.”
Love only needed 10 pitches to work his way through the fifth inning as well, though things briefly became dangerous for the Crimson Tide. The Norse laid down three successful bunts on three straight pitches to load the bases with no outs. The first came as a surprise. Love stumbled coming off the mound on the second bunt, and fielded the ball cleanly on the final bunt but looked briefly at third base, allowing the runner to beat the throw to third.
Love still managed to pitch his way out of trouble, getting a fly ball, strikeout and another fly ball on seven pitches to keep Northern Kentucky off the board.
“I think I’ve seen three bunts in a row for a hit, but not no runs,” Bohannon said. “We talked about that in the postgame meeting, doing a better job of defending those bunts. But thought the way Brock responded was awesome, to not only manage that inning but to come out with a zero was really impressive.”
An error in the eighth inning helped the Norse score their final three runs, but it wasn’t enough. Alabama had been steadily chipping away thanks to nine hits, ten walks and four batters hit by pitches.
“We scored in different ways,” second baseman Morgan McCullough said. “I think that’s the kind of offense we are. We’re just going to keep plugging.”
McCullough was 2-4 with a double, walk and an RBI to lead the offense. Third baseman Kobe Morris was 2-4 with a walk and an RBI as well.
The win ran Alabama’s win streak to 10 games. The last time Alabama had a 10-game win streak was early in the 2003 season. The last time it had a longer win streak was 1999, when the team won 16 straight games to set the program’s all-time record.
“We can’t dwell on what happened in this game and what happened on Friday,” McCullough said. “Just work towards tomorrow and keep putting up good numbers, keep having the staff working well.”
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