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February 17, 2013

Offense carries Alabama baseball team to victory

TUSCALOOSA | The temperature stayed in the 40s throughout Saturday's game with a slicing wind that made it feel colder. The University of Alabama baseball team countered with red-hot bats.

The Crimson Tide cranked out 13 hits to overpower Virginia Military Institute, 10-5, to take the first two games of the series at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. UA goes for the sweep today at 1:05 p.m.

Former Tuscaloosa County High School standout Brett Booth accounted for three hits to go along with three runs scored and two RBIs. His two-run single in the bottom of the eighth inning pushed the lead to four and gave the UA bullpen some breathing room.

"I tried to see the ball up," Booth said. "Late in the game, when you've got runners in scoring position, you try to dig in and give your best at-bat. I got a curve ball up and put a good swing on it."

Cary Baxter, hitting in the seven spot directly behind Booth, also added three hits with a run scored and two RBIs.

"Offensively it was a good day for us," UA coach Mitch Gaspard said. "We did a good job in the top half of the lineup with guys getting on base and doing things. Booth and Cary both had good games. I thought we had good offensive pressure throughout the ball game and throughout the lineup."

Freshman shortstop Mikey White continued his stellar play with a hit, a run scored and three walks. Through two games, he's batting .714 with an on-base percentage of .800.

Ben Moore added some pop with Alabama's first home run of the season, a rocket two-run shot to left field in the fourth inning.

"When I hit it I knew it," Moore said. "It felt good. It feels good to get the first one out of the way. I hope there's more to come."

Moore, who accounted for just two home runs and a total of 13 extra base hits as a Freshman All-American in 2012, wanted to up his power numbers this season. He hit 16 home runs and drove in 84 runs in the Northwoods League over the summer and came back to campus noticeably bigger and stronger.

Alabama is counting on him to provide that same power to the lineup.

"That's going to be the difference from last year to this year is we're going to see more power numbers out of him, particularly later this season when it warms up and you get Wade (Wass) behind him," Gaspard said. "He's going to get more pitches to hit, and you're going to have two guys in there that can run balls out of the yard."

Left-hander Jon Keller earned the win. He went four innings and allowed three runs on seven hits and one walk. Keller struck out a career-high eight batters.

Keaton Haack and Jake Hubbard, who earned the save, combined for five innings of relief.

Reach Aaron Suttles at aaron.suttles@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0229.



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