From the University of Alabama Athletics Department:
JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – In the final non-conference game of the regular season, the No. 19 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide pounded out 18 hits en route to a 15-10 victory at Jacksonville State on Tuesday night from Rudy Abbott Field. With the win the Crimson Tide improves to 33-19 while the Gamecocks fall to 29-22 overall.
"It was a tremendous offensive effort. To come out in the first inning and get eight hits and eight runs it got us off to a great start," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "They did a good job to get back in it, but we did a great job to answer their scores, and we were able to stretch it out late."
Five Crimson Tide players had multiple hits in the game, with sophomore third baseman Daniel Cucjen leading the way with a career-high four hits. Cucjen, who was hitting ninth in the order for the Tide, had four singles with a run scored and an RBI.
Wade Wass was 3-for-5 and had his team-leading 18th double of the season. Wass also drove in two runs and scored twice. Casey Hughston was 3-for-5 with a triple, three runs scored and two RBI, Mikey White was 2-for-5 with three RBI and two runs scored and Ben Moore was 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored.
The Tide threw a total of six pitchers as well. Starter Nick Eicholtz threw three innings, allowing four runs on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts. Tucker Hawley threw the fourth and fifth innings, allowing two runs on five hits with two strikeouts, and got the win to improve to 4-1.
"Castillo threw the ball extremely well and I was pleased with Mitch Greer," Gaspard said. "You could see some of the relievers had some rust as they haven't thrown in a week, so it was nice to get them out there tonight. I wasn't overly pleased with their effort, but it was good to get the out there to get ready for the weekend."
Ray Castillo struck out all three batters he faced in the seventh inning and Mitch Greer walked one and struck out two in a scoreless eighth inning.
JSU collected 14 hits as five different players had two hits. Andrew Bishop was 2-for-3 with a double, three RBI and three runs scored to lead the Gamecocks.
Alabama got off to a great start, posting eight runs on eight hits before the Gamecocks had a chance to swing the bats. The Tide sent 13 batters to the plate in the first, getting seven singles, a double and two walks. Austen Smith has a two-run single, Moore was 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored in the first and White had a walk, a single, an RBI and two runs scored in the first inning.
The eight hits in the first inning were the most since an eight-hit inning against Mississippi State on May 2, 2009, while the last eight-run inning for the Tide came in the third inning against Samford on March 19, 2013.
Jacksonville State cut the Bama lead in half by scoring four times in the bottom of the third off Eicholtz. JSU got a RBI single by Paschal Petrongolo to score for the first run then a double by Bishop drove in the second run. After a wild pitch allowed the third run to score, a ground ball to shorts allowed Bishop to score the fourth run of the frame.
Hughston led off the Bama fifth inning with his second triple of the season and scored on a groundout by Cucjen to give the Tide a 9-4 lead heading to the bottom of the fifth.
In the bottom of the fifth, Jacksonville State scored two runs off Hawley to cut the Bama lead to 9-6. After the Tide scored a run in the sixth to lead 10-6, JSU answered in the bottom of the inning to keep the deficit at three runs.
Alabama put the game out of reach when they scored five times in the eighth inning, with the big blow coming on a two-run double by Kyle Overstreet. Hughston made the score 13-7 with an RBI single, then with runners on second and third, White singled up the middle to drive in two making the score 15-7.
Jacksonville State battled in the bottom of the ninth, scoring three times off Alabama closer Thomas Burrows, who gave up the three runs on three hits with two walks in his only inning of work.
Alabama returns to the diamond on Thursday when it hosts the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the final regular season series of the season. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. CT, from Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
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