Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Alabama baseball stays hot, sweeping the Valparaiso Beacons and remaining undefeated

CW / Hannah Grace Mayfield
Alabama outfielder Evan Sleight (#3) rounds the bases against Valparaiso.

On Friday, the Alabama Crimson Tide hosted the Valparaiso Beacons in the three-game weekend series, where Alabama swept the Beacons to remain undefeated so far on the young 2024 season.

Game 1: Alabama 14, Valparaiso 2 

Right-hander Ben Hess got the nod for the Crimson Tide in Game 1. Hess made his second Friday start of the season, entering with a record of 1-0, supported by an ERA of zero. Despite giving up the leadoff walk, Hess settled down and retired the next three Beacons in a row.  

In the bottom half of the inning, the Alabama offense came alive, exploding for six runs. Shortstop Justin Lebron got Alabama on the board with an RBI single into left field. Second baseman Bryce Eblin kept it moving with a two-RBI double, then third baseman Gage Miller ripped a three-run home run into the Crimson Tide bullpen, putting Alabama ahead 6-0.  

Valparaiso answered back in the top of the third with an RBI single into right field for the Beacon left fielder Kyle Schmack. Designated hitter Ryan Maka brought home Schmack with an RBI double into right-center field to bring the Beacons within four, making it 6-2.  

With an impressive performance at the plate, Miller kept the bat hot with his fifth RBI of the game in the bottom of the fourth. An RBI double to left field saw Lebron and Eblin score for Alabama. Miller was brought home by center fielder TJ McCants who brought him in with a sacrifice fly to left field, putting the Crimson Tide ahead 9-2. Alabama added on to the lead when catcher Mac Guscette got an RBI single into right field to bring home first baseman Will Hodo and extend Alabama’s lead to 10-2.  

“Just having smart at-bats and not swinging at what I’m not supposed to and swinging at the right pitch,” Miller said about his offensive hot stretch.  

Entering the top of the fifth inning, Hess was relieved from his duties. In his 4.0 innings on the hill, Hess racked up five strikeouts while surrendering two earned runs and four hits. Right-hander Tyler Fay replaced Hess to make his second appearance of the season.  

Alabama continued to add on runs, adding two more in the bottom of the fifth. Lebron scored on a throwing error from Valparaiso catcher Kade Reinertson, who threw the ball away into center field. McCants was brought in from an RBI single by left fielder Ian Petrutz, making it 12-2.  

In the bottom of the sixth, the Crimson Tide added on two more runs with Guscette and Lebron crossing the plate to extend Alabama’s lead to 14-2.  Alabama held onto the score to take game one against the Beacons.  

“This was the first game that our offense did what our offense is capable of doing,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “Particularly after the first inning, we just had relentless at-bats; our outs were loud, we put pressure on them. That is who we are capable of being, that is who need to be more and more this season.” 

Game 2: Alabama 13, Valparaiso 3 

Junior Aidan Moza got the start for the Crimson Tide in game two. The right-hander made his second start for Alabama this season, entering Saturday afternoon 1-0 and with an ERA of 2.50. 

The Beacons got on the board quick in the top of the first with a double by Beacon left fielder Schmack, which brought home third baseman Kaleb Hannahs. Schmack was then brought in on a sac fly into right from Beacon designated hitter Maka. Valparaiso jumped into an early 2-0 lead and for the first time this season, Alabama trailed.  

“Valpo threw the first punch today,” Vaughn said. “We always say if they’re going to throw a jab, we’re going to throw a haymaker, and we answered it in the bottom of the first.”  

Miller got the Crimson Tide right back in the game by turning on a fastball and ripping it into the Alabama bullpen to bring Alabama within one in the bottom of the first. Belting the second home run of the inning, Petrutz launched a two-run homerun over the center-field wall, putting Alabama ahead 3-2.  

Designated hitter Coleman Mizell continued the Alabama lead with a two-run home run of his own. Following Mizell’s two-run jack, Lebron followed him with a solo shot of his own, putting Alabama ahead 6-2. The Crimson Tide was not done just yet; a single from Miller in his second at-bat of the inning brought home Eblin to put Alabama ahead by five.  

“We did exactly what we do as an offense, and we just have that pack mentality all game and we were just relentless,” Petrutz said on the mentality of the offense.  

In the bottom of the third, on a wild pitch, both Miller and Eblin crossed the plate and scored. In a game where the Beacons could not get out of their own way, Alabama jumped to a 10-3 lead. The Crimson Tide later added on two more runs in the inning to make it 12-3.  

Exiting in the top of the fifth, Moza’s day was over. He allowed three hits and three earned runs while also punching out four and only surrendering two walks. Moza made way for right-hander Coulson Buchanan.  

Alabama surpassed 10 runs in the bottom of the fifth when Evan Sleight spitting the outfielders with an RBI double, scoring Eblin from first. The Beacons were unable to keep up with the Alabama offense as the Crimson Tide took Game 2by a final of 13-3 and its second straight weekend series. 

Game 3: Alabama 11, Valparaiso 1 

After securing the series win on Saturday, the Crimson Tide gave left-hander Greg Farone the start in the series finale. Farone saw some trouble in the first, giving up the game’s first run on an RBI single to left field, which saw the Beacons move ahead 1-0.  

Playing from behind for the second straight game, Alabama kept cool and answered right back with two runs in the bottom of the first and did not give the lead back to the Beacons. On a double down the right-field line, Sleight brought in Hodo and Miller, putting Alabama ahead 2-1.  

Miller flashed the power again, this time with a two-run home run to left field in the bottom of the second inning, keeping up his torrid pace at the plate and extending the Crimson Tide’s lead to three.  

Alabama scored two more runs in the bottom of the third inning. On a single through the left side, Mason Swinney brought home Hodo, and Lebron brought in the second run with his sacrifice fly out into right field. In just three innings, Alabama had taken a commanding 6-1 lead.  

Continuing its strong offensive performance, the Crimson Tide put up five runs in four innings to secure its fourth straight win of 10 runs or more. McCants had a solo shot in the bottom of the sixth, and a two-run jack in the seventh added on to his team-leading 17 RBIs for the season to propel the Crimson Tide to an 11-1 win and sweep over the Beacons.   

Alabama will play its next game in Birmingham against UAB on Tuesday at 6 p.m. CT. 

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