Alabama baseball sweeps UIC in grand fashion

Tzali Nislick, Staff Reporter

It was a grand weekend for No. 20 Alabama, which picked up another sweep, this time over the University of Illinois-Chicago (4-6) thanks to three grand slams in as many games. The Crimson Tide offense continued its scorching start to the season, piling up 30 runs in the series.  

Colby Shelton takeover 

Colby Shelton may just be the hottest hitter on the planet. The freshman mashed five home runs in the series, including two grand slams. You might want to sit down for this: Shelton finished the series 6-for-13 (.462) with a whopping 1,972 total feet worth of homers and 11 RBIs. He was playing out of his mind coming into the weekend too, and now rides a nine-game hitting streak, slashing .433/.528/1.167 with seven round-trippers and 16 RBIs in that span. 

“I’m just trying to go up there every [at bat] with the same mindset and just do anything I can to help the team get a win,” Shelton said.  

He appears to have a stranglehold of the leadoff spot for Crimson Tide (12-0) and should be in serious consideration for SEC Player of the Week honors after his monstrous performance against the Flames.  

Outfielder Tommy Seidl also clobbered a grand slam of his own on Friday and Alabama has now hit a grand slam in a program-record four consecutive games. 

“Hot damn, that’s pretty cool,” Alabama head coach Brad Bohannon said about the feat.  

Seidl totaled six RBIs in the series opener, the most in a game by an Alabama player since Tyler Gentry in 2020. It was easily Seidl’s best effort of the year, after the redshirt senior struggled entering Friday, going hitless in his four prior contests.  

Bounceback for the aces 

Starters Grayson Hitt and Ben Hess regained their form on Friday and Saturday, respectively, after both had lackluster outings the previous week. 

“I think I was just throwing my cutter for more strikes. Last week I was kind of struggling to find it in the zone and this week I was able to lay it in a lot more,” Hitt said Friday.  

The junior southpaw navigated around seven baserunners across his five innings of work, allowing just one run with five punch outs.  

Hess was phenomenal on Saturday, tossing his second scoreless outing of the season. The Crimson Tide needed every bit of his 5.2 shutout innings against the Flames as it found itself in a pitcher’s duel early on. The game was scoreless until the fifth inning, when Alabama opened it up. 

“Ben Hess matched every single zero and gave us a chance to get on the board first. Then, you go to the bullpen, and pair that with an obviously great day from Colby Shelton,” said Alabama assistant coach Jason Jackson on Saturday.  

Hess now leads the rotation with a 1.84 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 14.2 innings pitched, while being tied with Hitt for the lead in strikeouts.  

On deck 

Due to inclement weather, Alabama has yet to go on the road this year, but it gets its first opportunity on Tuesday against Samford University. 

“It’ll be good to be in a different environment. I know there’s a bunch of [Alabama] baseball fans in the Greater Birmingham area,” Bohannon said. “Hoping to see a lot of crimson in the stands on Tuesday.”  

The Crimson Tide will travel up the road to Birmingham, where first pitch is set for 6 p.m. CT on ESPN+.  

Questions or comments? Email Blake Byler (Sports Editor) at [email protected]