There are a lot of repetitive themes in Alabama baseball’s 12-game winning streak to start the season. The Crimson Tide scored eight or more runs in eight of those games, scored first in nine of them and played clean defense on top of it all, committing a SEC-best four errors.
One in particular makes UA coach Brad Bohannon feel like a broken record.
“I feel like I keep saying this, but the bullpen is awesome,” he said.
Bohannon was inspired to compliment the unit again after its most recent heroics, having now covered 59 innings with a 2.90 ERA and 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings thus far. The success of so many pitchers has made it difficult to place them in set roles.
Redshirt freshman Landon Green has only pitched one-inning stints, but all of UA’s other top bullpen arms have been used in similar long-relief roles at times. Jacob McNairy has two-, three- and four-inning outings already, allowing one run among the three of them. Tyler Ras has two three-inning outings this season, Casey Cobb has covered 8 1/3 innings in three appearances, Brock Guffey took the final three innings of the Harvard series and Garret Rukes took 3 2/3 against UT Martin.
Eventually, some of those roles will become more defined, but it’s hard to establish a pecking order while all of them are comparable levels of successful. Until then, Bohannon thinks the players are in a position to make this work.
“I talked to the team about this,” Bohannon said. “Every young pitcher wants to be a starting pitcher because in their mind, they think that the coaches are saying those are the best three guys — and certainly don’t want to take anything away from the three guys that are starting for us, because those guys have been great — but it’s not necessarily always the case. I tell them also that the end of the game is the sum of the nine innings: you can lose the game in the first, the fifth or the ninth. It’s equally as important to put up a zero in the fourth inning as it is in the first and obviously in the eighth or ninth. I think sometimes young people have a hard time really grasping that concept.
“These are great kids and all these guys just like to play. Whether it’s been a position player or a pitcher, they’ve all just been awesome about it. Just give me the ball and I’ll get them out whenever I’m pitching.”
Another freshman honored
Two weeks after Owen Diodati earned the first one of the season, Alabama catcher Peyton Wilson was named the SEC Freshman of the Week.
Wilson hit .571 last week (8-for-14) with two doubles and five RBI. He went 4-for-4 in a midweek game against Middle Tennessee, a performance that earned him a start in the Friday and Saturday games against Harvard.
UA earned two top 25 spots on Monday, the No. 23 ranking in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s weekly rankings and No. 25 in the first USA Today coaches poll of the season.
Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson