TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama offense exploded for 13 hits on Saturday as the Crimson Tide defeated VMI, 10-5, in the second game of the series at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The winning pitcher was Alabama’s Jon Keller (1-0), moving Alabama to 2-0 on the season, and the losing pitcher was Campbell Henkel (0-1), as the Keydets dropped to 0-2.
“Pitching wise wasn't really where we wanted to be,” UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “Jon (Keller) gave us an ok start and Keaton Haack came in and did a good job. Being a freshman, he pitched with a lot of poise and composure. Offensively, it was a good day for us. The top half of the line-up helped out a lot today. Ben (Moore) ran his first one out and we had a couple guys with three hits. Booth's hit in the eighth inning was really big for us as it helped stretch out the lead a little bit.”
Sophomore first baseman Cary Baxter was 3-for-3 with a single, two doubles, a walk, a hit by pitch, a stolen base, two RBIs and a run scored. Senior catcher Brett Booth also had a three-hit day, going 3-for-5 with two RBI and three runs scored. Sophomore right fielder Ben Moore drove in three runs and hit the first Alabama home run of the season. Freshman shortstop Mikey White continues his hot start, going 1-for-2 with a single, three walks, two stolen bases and a run scored.
Keller provided four innings of work, allowing seven hits, three runs and a walk with a career high eight strikeouts. In his UA debut, Keaton Haack went three innings, allowing an unearned run on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Jake Hubbard got the save for Alabama after throwing the final two innings for the Tide.
Moore led the way for the Tide with three runs batted in. Booth and Baxter each drove in two runs, and junior designated hitter Steven Cole and freshman second baseman Kyle Overstreet also chipped in an RBI each for Alabama.
After Keller retired three straight batters to begin the game, the Tide offense got on the board in the bottom of the first with a Moore RBI sacrifice fly. VMI would come back with a rally of their own in the second, scoring three times off Keller to go up 3-1.
The Tide responded in the bottom of the inning as Booth and Baxter had back-to-back singles to set the table for the inning. Steven Cole, Ryan Blanchard and Kyle Overstreet came up with timely hitting to put the Tide up 4-3.
Moore hit the first home run of the year for the Tide when he launched a rocket over the left field wall in the bottom of the fourth to stretch the Alabama lead to 6-3. Baxter kept his big day going, stroking an RBI single to left to give the Tide a 7-3 advantage.
VMI added a run in the sixth and eighth innings, but Alabama’s offense was too much to overcome. The hot hitting of the freshmen White and Overstreet paid dividends again, as they both scored on Booth’s two-RBI single in the eighth. Booth scored shortly after, as Baxter delivered an RBI double, his third hit of the day, to move the lead to 10-5.
Alabama and VMI are scheduled to play game three of the series on Sunday, with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m., from Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Tide will start senior right-hander Charley Sullivan (0-0) and the Keydets will counter with freshman lefty Connor Bach.