After a two-hour delayed start and a 45-minute in-game rain delay, Alabama baseball completed the sweep of Washington State with a 9-3 victory on Saturday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The win improves the Crimson Tide to a perfect 7-0, its best start to a new year since 2010.

“It was a long day, a challenging day,” said Alabama head coach Brad Bohannon. “With a doubleheader yesterday, a delayed start and a rain delay today, (today’s win) wasn’t quite as sharp as we would have wanted. We walked them five times, hit them twice and we struck out 10 times. With that being said, I’m obviously glad to get the win and get the sweep.”

The Crimson Tide bats produced nine runs on the power of 12 hits and three walks. Alabama’s offense was highlighted by Keith Holcombe’s perfect 4-for-4 afternoon that saw the junior record a team-high and career-high four RBI. Holcombe’s day extended his hitting streak to six games. Also contributing a multi-hit effort was Chandler Avant, who went 2-for-4 with one double, a home run, two RBI and a pair of runs scored. With the productive day at the dish, the senior second baseman has now recorded at least one hit in all seven games of the young season.

On the hill, Alabama starter Sam Gardner worked 4.0 innings of one-run baseball, allowing four hits and issuing two walks with two strikeouts. The junior starter exited the game following a 45-minute rain delay, giving way to his bullpen. UA used four arms to combine for the final 5.0 innings, with freshman Brock Guffey (1-0) earning his first win of the season. Guffey tossed 2.1 scoreless frames, allowing one hit and a walk while striking out three for the win.

The Tide struck first in the series finale, scoring a pair in the bottom of the first to grab an early 2-0 lead. Leadoff man Cobie Vance began the game with a double to left to put himself in scoring position, and two outs later a walk and a hit-by-pitch for the Tide loaded the bases. Holcombe capitalized on the opportunity, with the junior collecting his first double of the season to score two and give the Tide the early advantage.

Alabama added single tallies in both the second and third to extend the lead. The second saw Jett Manning lead things off with a ground-rule double, before the junior advanced to third on a groundout. With two down, fellow junior Joe Breaux lined a single up the middle to score Manning and make it a 3-0 ballgame.

Avant continued the trend from the first two innings, beginning the bottom of the third with a double of his own. In the next at-bat, Holcombe notched his third RBI of the day with a single through the right side to score the leadoff man and push the Tide lead to 4-0 after three frames.

Washington State plated one in the fourth, drawing a leadoff walk and a single to put two on. A Cougar sac bunt moved both runners into scoring position before a groundout to first scored one. One inning later, WSU crossed two runs with a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch followed by a sacrifice fly to right. Another hit batsman loaded the bases, but a 1-3 putout from Guffey on the next play ended the threat with three runners stranded and kept UA in front, 4-3.

The Tide would add one more in the bottom of the fifth to take a two-run lead once again. A leadoff walk to Chandler Taylor and a passed ball put the junior outfielder in scoring position. One out later, Holcombe collected his third hit of the day, a single through the left side to bring in Taylor and set the score at 5-3 after five full.

UA added three more in the seventh, with the inning’s scoring was highlighted by a solo home run from Avant, his first of the season. The Tide would plate one more in the eighth to make it a 9-3 contest, the eventual final.

Alabama will return to the diamond on Tuesday as the Crimson Tide takes its first roadtrip of the 2018 season, heading to Birmingham to take on Samford. The first of two pairings between the in-state foes this season is scheduled for a 6 p.m. CT first pitch at Joe Lee Griffin on the Samford campus. The Tide will then return to Tuscaloosa to host Alabama State on Wednesday afternoon with a 3 p.m. first pitch in midweek matchup.

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