College Baseball Roundup: No Problem with Alabama’s Hughston

Hughston, we are not even close to having a problem.

That could easily be the summary of early season play for the Alabama Crimson Tide, which swept a doubleheader from Savannah State Tuesday to move to 6-2 behind an incredible start by right fielder Casey Hughston.

Hughston, a sophomore from Mobile, launched a 2nd-inning grand slam to lead the Tide to a 7-2 win in Game 1.  In the 2nd game, which Alabama took 4-2, he added a pair of singles – the first game so far this season in which he didn’t get an extra-base hit.  Hughston stands at an unbelievable .637 (21-for-33) through the first eight contests, with two homers and 15 runs batted in.  The Baker High School product hit .309 in Southeastern Conference play a year ago as a freshman, with four homers for the season.

In Tuesday’s opener, Hughston followed three straight walks by crushing a grand slam in the 2nd inning to give the Tide a 5-1 advantage.  Aiding the Alabama offense was Georgie Salem, who went 2-for-3, scored twice, and stole three bases for Coach Mitch Gaspard‘s squad.

Bama rode the strong pitching of Jake Hubbard in the nightcap.  Hubbard scattered three hits over six frames and allowed just 1 run to Savannah State.  The Tide scored twice in the 3rd on a Kyle Overstreet triple and received a solo home run from Chance Vincent in the 6th.  In the 8th, Vincent doubled and raced home on a single by Taylor Poe to complete the scoring for the day.

“It’s important to get two wins,” Gaspard said. “The key in doubleheaders is keeping focus, because it’s such a long day. We have three more doubleheaders that we know of, so it’s good to get in-tune to these long days and keep focus in back-to-back games. It was good to come out today and get two wins. Now we can get back, regroup and get ready for a big weekend with Louisiana-Lafayette.”

In other collegiate play around the country Tuesday…

#1-ranked Vanderbilt (5-2) pounded UT-Martin (1-7) often and early on the way to a 16-3 rout, using an 8-run 3rd inning keyed by Dansby Swanson‘s bases-loaded triple to break it open.  Freshman DH Liam Sabino collected 3 hits for the Commodores, while catcher Jason Delay was 2-for-4 with 3 RBIs.  First baseman Nico Zych had 3 knocks for the Skyhawks… A 3-run 8th inning allowed Florida (7-1) to take the lead and hold off Florida Atlantic (6-2) 10-8 in a slugfest.  Center fielder Buddy Reed was 3-for-6 with a pair of doubles and 2 runs scored to head the Gator offense.  Florida also received 3 RBIs from catcher J. J. Schwarz, offsetting a 3-hit, 3-RBI performance by FAU’s Ricky SantiagoUCLA (7-1) received a terrific start from Griffin Canning (6 IP, 3 hits, 6 Ks) in shutting out Long Beach State (5-3) 1-0.  The game’s lone tally was a solo homer in the 6th by Bruin leadoff man Kevin Kramer.  UCLA got 3 scoreless innings of relief from 3 different pitchers in the victory.

Texas A&M (8-0) remained unbeaten with a 6th-inning rally to defeat Houston Baptist (5-3) 4-1.  The Aggie bullpen produced 3.2 frames of strong relief, with Jason Freeman escaping a 6th-inning jam and Ryan Hendrix notching his 1st save with a scoreless 9th.  Nick Banks went 2-for-3 for the winners and scored twice… Freshman Kade McClure threw 5 shutout innings in his 1st collegiate start as Louisville (4-3) pounded Butler (0-7) 10-1.  Corey Ray and Nick Solak each drove in 3 runs for the Cardinals, and Sutton Whiting was 3-for-3 with a pair of stolen bases… Ole Miss (5-2) used a 4th-inning RBI single by Austin Knight to down Arkansas State (4-3) 2-1.  Knight and Sikes Orvis, who homered in the 1st, had 2 hits apiece for the Rebels, who also received 3 innings of scoreless relief from Jacob Waguespack in the triumph.

SEC Freshman of the Week Ryan Gridley stayed red-hot with 4 hits and 2 RBIs as Mississippi State improved to 9-0 by besting Alcorn State (3-5) 10-2.  Gridley, who’s now hitting .591 on the season, was aided by Jake Vickerson‘s 2-run single and 2 safeties each from Seth Heck and Jacob RobsonMitchell Tolman drove in 6 runs as Oregon (8-1) outlasted Portland (2-8) 8-2.  Tolman had an RBI double in the 1st and plated 3 more with a bases-clearing double in the 8th for the Ducks.  Freshman southpaw Jacob Corn tossed 7 innings of 1-run ball to gain the pitching victory, and Matt Eureste stroked 2 hits to boost his season average to .400… UC Santa Barbara, backed by Andrew Calica‘s 5-hit day, moved to 7-1 with a 6-4 win over Pepperdine (4-4).  UCSB overcame Brandon Caruso‘s 4th-inning grand slam with single runs in the 7th and 8th frames to break a 4-4 tie.  Peter Maris delivered the game-winning RBI single in the 7th for the Gauchos.

Patrick Duester and Jackson Johnson combined for a 5-hit shutout as Tulane (7-1) downed host New Orleans (4-4) 9-0.  John Gandolfo (2 doubles, 2 RBis), Stephen Alemais, and Lex Kaplan all had 3 hits for Tulane… Auburn (7-2) knocked off Georgia Tech (5-3) 7-1 as Keegan Thompson went 7 strong frames, fanning 9 and allowing only a single run.  Blake Logan had 3 hits and Damon Haecker and Kyler Deese drove in 2 runs each for the Tigers… Florida State (5-3) outlasted Jacksonville (5-3) 10-7 as Darren Miller was 3-for-5, drove in 2 runs, and hit his 1st dinger of the year.  Taylor Walls also had 3 hits for the Seminoles, who overcame a 4-hit night by Jacksonville’s Angelo AmendolareVance Vizcaino‘s RBI single capped a comeback from a 5-0 deficit as Stetson (5-4) edged Bethune Cookman (0-8) 6-5.  Hatter reliever Brooks Wilson picked up his 3rd win of the season with 2 scoreless frames and Josh Powers knocked in 2 runs.

Georgia (6-1) made 1st-inning RBIs from Trevor Kieboom and Zack Bowers stand up as Sean McLaughlin and 4 other pitchers combined to shut out Presbyterian (6-3) 3-0… Cal State Northridge (9-1) hammered Grand Canyon University (7-1) 10-1 on the strength of Conor O’Neil‘s 6.1 scoreless innings and Justin Toerner‘s 2-run HR.  Nick Murphy added a 3-run triple for the Matadors… Loyola Marymount (6-2) beat UC Riverside (5-4) 5-2 as freshman Billy Wilson went 3-for-5 with 2 doubles, an RBI, and a run scored… Austin March smacked a bases-loaded, 2-run single in the bottom of the 9th to give UC Davis (6-2-1) a 5-4 comeback win over Eastern Michigan (2-6)Belmont (2-1) blasted Western Kentucky (2-4) 9-1 as Drew Ferguson belted 2 solo homers and Matt Beaty drove in 3 runs with 3 hits, including a HR.

Alabama A&M (4-5) handed UAB (6-1) its 1st loss of the season 6-3 behind the offense of Brandyn Cutcher, who was 2-for-3 with 2 RBIs.  It was A&M’s 1st program victory over the Blazers… Arizona (7-2) walloped 18 hits on its way to a 10-7 triumph over Oakland (0-7)Jared Oliva was 4-for-5 and drove in 2 runs for the Wildcats… Devin Bonin had 3 hits and Trey Truitt drove home 3 runs as Mercer (5-4) clobbered Florida A&M (1-5) 10-2… Nevada (7-1) had its previously unbeaten season blemished when freshman Matt Winaker cracked a walkoff double in the bottom of the 9th to give Stanford (4-4) a 6-5 victory.  Alex Dunlap contributed 3 hits for the winners… Southern Cal went to 9-0 when Jeremy Martinez drew a bases-loaded walk in the top of the 10th to give the Trojans a 3-2 win over Fresno State (3-5).  USC received an outstanding start from Brooks Kriske, who struck out 10 in 5 innings, yielding a single run and just 3 hits… San Diego State (8-1) was also the beneficiary of an extra-inning walk, in the 13th to Justin Wylie, to topple San Diego (2-6) 5-4.

Trevin Hall‘s 3-run HR in the 3rd inning, part of a 3-hit, 4-RBI day, led Troy (6-2) past Samford (3-4) 6-0.  Austin Crook hurled 5 shutout innings in his 1st start to gain the win… Adam Ballew‘s RBI double in the 8th broke a 3-3 tie and sparked South Alabama (5-3) to a come-from-behind 6-3 victory over Alabama State (3-4)Stephen Windham drilled a 2-run homer and J. P. Sears threw 5 frames of shutout ball as The Citadel (4-4) edged Georgia Southern (5-3) 3-2… Several other games scheduled for Tuesday, mostly in the Southern and Eastern states, were canceled by inclement or extremely cold weather.

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