Starting Rotation Shines in No. 20 Alabama’s Opening Series
The Alabama weekend pitching rotation got a new look entering the 2023 season. Grayson Hitt was moved into the Friday role, Ben Hess made his debut as the new Saturday starter, and Jacob McNairy took the ball on Sunday. All three starters got the win against the Richmond Spiders, and the Crimson Tide nearly won all three games by double digits.
Hitt, around whom there is considerable hype in 2023, pitched five innings without an earned run on Friday. He also struck out eight batters.
Hess threw six innings of three-hit ball, also without an earned run and without any walks, on Saturday. He might have gone on longer if it wasn’t an early-season game, tossing 65 pitches. Hess fanned six Spiders.
McNairy returned to Alabama despite being drafted by Major League Baseball’s Seattle Mariners last summer. He remained in the weekend rotation after starting on Saturdays for much of the 2022 season. His first start went four innings, good enough for the win in a game shortened by run rule after the top of the seventh inning. McNairy surrendered just one earned run, the only earned run given up by an Alabama starter all weekend, and had three punchouts without a walk.
“[We have] a lot of confidence in those guys,” said Alabama head coach Brad Bohannon. “They all did a great job, and you saw three guys that had really good tempo, pounded the strike zone on multiple pitches, and that’s a pretty basic formula for being successful in baseball.”
In total, the weekend starters threw 15 innings with just one earned run- good for a 0.60 earned run average. Richmond scored just five runs in the entire series.