Alabama Baseball Trounces Richmond in Opening Day Win
Alabama baseball's 2023 Opening Day did not have the same level of drama or late-game theatrics as the 2022 iteration, but it was nevertheless a success. The Crimson Tide (1-0) beat the Richmond Spiders (0-1) 12-3 on a cold and windy day at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
In Grayson Hitt's debut as the Friday starter, he set the tone defensively with five strong innings, eight punchouts and just one unearned run. He threw 81 pitches and got the win.
"I thought Grayson was outstanding," Alabama head coach Brad Bohannon said. "He had a lot of maturity- his body language, his demeanor, his tempo- he really attacked the hitters [and] got us off to a great start on the mound."
Hitt said performing well in the first game has him looking forward to his future starts.
"Obviously, there's a lot of anticipation leading up to Opening Day," said Hitt. "It kind of puts a lot of weight on my shoulders... Now I'm just looking forward to my next start, and what we've got going on tomorrow and the rest of the week."
The offense complemented Hitt with a 14-hit game featuring 18 different batters and 21 total baserunners. Right fielder Andrew Pinckney paced the offense with a 4-for-4 day that included a double and one RBI.
"Knowing that Coach [Bohannon] trusts me to put me in the middle of the order and drive in some runs is nice," said Pinckney. [It's nice] to know that I can just go out there and be myself and do my best for the team."
Another key offensive piece in Friday's win was debuting catcher Mac Guscette, a Florida transfer who made the start behind the plate. He had three hits and launched the Crimson Tide's only home run of the game, a three-run blast that broke it open in the third inning.
"[Mac] set the bar pretty high for himself," Bohannon said. "Mac's a really good player. That's why he was in the lineup for us today. Outstanding defensive catcher, really receives and blocks well, very accurate thrower. I was happy to see him get off to a good start with the bat."
The Spiders were able to draw first blood in the top of the second inning. Catcher Zach Lass walked, moved into scoring position on a wild pitch, then scampered home on a throwing error by true freshman third baseman Colby Shelton.
In the home half of the inning, Guscette batted in Tommy Seidl to tie the game. Leadoff hitter Jim Jarvis singled home second baseman Bryce Eblin to give the Crimson Tide the lead.
The five-run third inning was the game's turning point. First baseman Drew Williamson started the rally with a single that scored Pinckney. Seidl then sacrificed himself and sent designated hitter Dominic Tamez across the plate. Guscette capped the inning with his homer.
Alabama scored three more runs in the fourth inning to reach double digits, then added one run each in the fifth and seventh innings. Richmond did not score again until Hitt was out of the game. In the seventh frame, Mikey Kluska took Hunter Furtado yard to bring the Spiders' deficit back to single digits. Jared Sprague-Lott scored the contest's final run on a solo shot off of Kade Woods in the ninth.
Richmond starter Brock Weirather was credited with the loss.
"[I'm] just really pleased," said Bohannon. "I thought it was an outstanding outing for the first game of the year. Really proud of our team."
Game two of the three-game set is set for Saturday, with sophomore pitcher Ben Hess getting the ball for Alabama. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. CT. Coverage will be on Tide 100.9 FM and the Tide 100.9 app which is free to download in the App Store.
Alabama Baseball 2023 Roster