The new offense for the University of Alabama baseball team wasn’t supposed to be built solely around home runs. But it’s also not all about infield singles and manufactured runs.
Seven of Alabama’s runs in an 8-1 win over Presbyterian (0-2) on Saturday came from home runs. Alabama (2-0) mashed three home runs in the fourth inning to take a 5-0 lead, then added another two-run homer in the sixth.
“I think we can score a lot of different ways,” head coach Greg Goff said. “Tonight, we won by the long ball. Last night we played short. You play 56 games, you better be more than a one-dimensional offense. I think that’s what we are. I think that’s what we’re trying to create.”
Those homers, combined with six shutout innings from junior righty Jake Walters, put the Blue Hose away. Alabama clinched the weekend series with the win and will try to begin the season with a three-game sweep on Sunday at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
Walters allowed just three hits and one walk while striking out seven. He needed just 75 pitches to work through six innings in his first start of the season. Sophomore Sam Finnerty pitched two innings and allowed one run, while freshman lefty Sonny Potter made his career debut and pitched the ninth inning.
It was one of the best outings of Walters’ career. He posted a 2.67 ERA in 2016, but only carried a shutout past the sixth inning once during last season.
“The last few weeks we really harped on mechanics and stuff,” Walters said. “I was really able to trust my mechanics all day. I didn’t get out of sync or anything. The stuff was working well. We just started throwing to contact and got great run support.”
Chandler Taylor launched a 400-foot homer over the visitor’s bullpen in right center to start the scoring in the fourth. First baseman Hunter Alexander hit his first career home run off the scoreboard on the first pitch after that. Third baseman Connor Short homered to left to finish the bombardment in the fourth. It was the first time Alabama hit three home runs in one inning since 2008.
“I think it goes back to our pregame BP, getting here early,” Taylor said. “We were hitting on the field, focusing on a couple of emphasis that we wanted to get off this guy tonight. We were here at noon getting swings in on the field and feeling the swings out today. I think that had a big part. One of our emphasis was ‘Don’t miss mistakes,’ and I got a couple of mistakes tonight.”
Taylor homered again in the fifth inning, the third multi-home run game of his career. He finished the day 2-4 with four RBIs and two strikeouts, and nearly had a third home run. He ripped a foul ball to right that went longer than either of his home runs in the first inning before striking out.
Alexander was 3-4 with a home run. Second baseman Cobie Vance went 3-4 with a double and an RBI.
“I was really pleased with the way these guys came out tonight,” Goff said. “Sometimes teams, I think, get complacent. I thought tonight our guys really came out and played harder and they did a great job. Had a lot of energy and really competed for 27 outs. Really proud of a tremendous team win tonight.”