TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The University of Alabama got its season off to a fashionably late start on Friday night, earning its first win of the season against the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions, 14-0.
Alabama’s offense, which bordered on pedestrian against Florida Atlantic University, came out against Arkansas Pine-Bluff ready to play. Every Alabama starter had at least one hit and eight batters had at least one run batted in. UA scored more runs in the series opener Friday night than in the entire three-game series against FAU.
“We showed some signs tonight offensively,” UA coach Mitch Gaspard said. “You saw some doubles that were hit really well in the gap. This is capable of being a really good offense. It looks like it’s going to take a little bit of time to get our rhythm but we showed some signs tonight.
Alabama combined to hit .361 on the night with three walks and eight extra base hits. In all, a total team effort.
“That’s what this offense is capable of doing is hitting one through nine and having a little bit of power, too,” Gaspard said. “Anytime you can get a flow like that is good. We have to get those six or seven guys with confidence swinging the bats well and having good at-bats one after another.”
Alabama second baseman Kenny Roberts and freshman catcher Ben Moore led the way with 3 RBIs each. Roberts went 2-for-4 with two extra-base hits and a walk. Moore was 1-for-3 with a three-run home run over the left field wall in the bottom of the eighth.
Roberts said the win was a chance to start over, to begin the season anew. When he decided to transfer to Alabama, he thought nights like the one on Friday would be a common occurrence.
“That’s exactly what I expected,” Roberts said. “We can hit. We knew that. Alabama has always been able to hit and we proved it tonight.
“It’s a big relief because not only will it spark us for tomorrow and the next day, but it will also give us more confidence at the plate. Last weekend we didn’t have confidence swinging at bad pitches and I think this weekend after tonight’s win we’ll start swinging it more, seeing balls fly and have fun.”
Moore threw out two base runners in addition to his good night at the plate. Gaspard said Moore has been “tremendous” since the start of fall practice, rising quickly as a freshman and making his case to start at catcher.
“He’s been the guy all fall and early spring that’s kind of risen in that young group as a position player, really taking charge,” Gaspard said. “That made it really easy for us to put him behind the plate and put Brett back to third. Brett will still catch some, and it’s certainly nothing he did, but right now our best team is with Moore catching.”
Freshman Taylor Guilbeau turned in his second consecutive strong outing for the Tide, pitching six innings of two-hit baseball. He allowed no runs and struck out four, dancing around four walks through the first four innings.
Despite not having his best stuff, Guilbeau battled.
“Guilbeau wasn’t super-sharp tonight but that’s kind of him. He finds a way to manage to get outs,” Gaspard said.
Said Guilbeau: “Coach talks about that if we don’t have our good stuff to battle, and that’s what I do. I didn’t have my fastball, curveball or change-up. I just worked with what I had and get as many strikes as I could and let the defense work.”
The Crimson Tide (1-3) pitching staff did its part as well, silencing the Golden Lions’ bats, giving up just three hits and 10 base runners on a chilly night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
Spencer Turnbull, Jake Hubbard and Ian Gardeck pitched the final three innings, throwing one frame apiece. They combined to give up no hits and struck out three.
Alabama will host Arkansas-Pine Bluff tomorrow at 2:05 p.m. CT. Charley Sullivan (0-1, 9.00 ERA) will take the mound for the Tide against Michael Newby (0-1, 9.95 ERA).