Tide opportunistic in win over VandyBy Brett Hudson | 04/20/2012 9:16pm
Finding Alabama’s offense in the 2012 season has almost required a search party. Head coach Mitch Gaspard has admitted throughout out the course of the season that his staff has tried everything to get the team going.
In the instances when the Crimson Tide gets a good start, it is hard stop. Alabama got a good offensive showing Friday night and ran away from Vanderbilt with a 6-3 win.
“Offensively, we played a little long ball,” Gaspard said. “Some balls left the yard and I thought we executed well.”
Gaspard added, “I was pleased with the way we manufactured runs tonight.”
The Tide saw something in the an opportunity in the scouting report for offensive production against Vanderbilt starting pitcher TJ Pecoraro.
“Pecoraro is a strike thrower,” Gaspard said. “He’s kind of fastball heavy so we felt like we could get some good swings off early in the count tonight.”
Shortstop Jared Reaves added, “Anytime you’re in an even count or a hitter’s count, he’s going to come at you with a fastball.”
Reaves was looking for the fastball all night long and got it, getting two hits and an RBI in four at-bats, one of his hits a homerun in the bottom of the third.
Alabama also got a strong performance from starting pitcher Spencer Turnbull, who got his first start in Southeastern Conference play as a true freshman. Turnbull pitched 5.1 innings and gave up six hits and one run. The run was unearned. Turnbull tied his career-high in strikeouts with six.
“We got a good start,” Gaspard said. “Spencer Turnbull, his first SEC start and I thought he did really well. He made pitches when he needed to and kept the game settled down.”
The decision to start Turnbull was the culmination of a season-long project, in which pitching coach Dax Norris and the coaching staff were waiting for Turnbull to maximize the potential they saw in him.
“We’ve kind of been grooming him for a weekend start,” Gaspard said. “We felt like he was going to be a weekend guy, there was no question about that. We just didn’t think he was quite ready that yet.”
Turnbull added, “I think I was expected to be a Friday night starter this season. I never really got there, different situations. But I’m here now and it’s a great feeling.”
The road to his eventual arrival was a up-and-down one, as Turnbull came into the weekend series with an ERA of over 6.00. Turnbull was impressive in his first career start against South Alabama on Fe. 28 th, pitching five shutout innings and allowing only three hits
Then, struggles set in for the freshman. In his next three starts, he averaged an earned run for every inning pitched and gave up six hits in 3.2 innings against Auburn on March 6th.
Now that Turnbull has arrived and performed well in the role projected for him, the Tide seems to be enjoying what it got and is looking forward to the future of it.
“Now, it’s time for him to do it,” Gaspard said.