Alabama Baseball Blanks Northeastern in Season Opener, 10-0
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama baseball opened the season in solid fashion, shutting out Northeastern 10-0 on Friday afternoon in Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
"Really good first day for us," Alabama coach Brad Bohannon said. "Certainly weren't perfect but a lot of guys contributed. Connor [Prielipp] did a great job getting us off to a start on the mound and a lot of hard contact throughout the lineup and just really pleased to get off to a good start."
Two Crimson Tide freshmen in pitcher Connor Prielipp and outfielder Owen Diodati had terrific debuts in their first starts in an Alabama uniform. Prielipp picked up the win in his debut, allowing only one hit in four innings, striking out seven and walking four.
Diodati played the game in the designated hitter position rather than in the outfield, going 2-for-3 with four runs and three RBIs. Both of his hits were home runs, with one in the third and the other hit in the eighth inning.
"I'm glad for everybody to get off to a good start," Bohannon said. "[Diodati] and Connor [Prielipp] are two guys that have really shown well with the six months that they've been here and [are] guys that we've had high expectations for.
"I'm certainly not surprised."
Every single Alabama starter in the lineup was able to register a hit, with the team earning a total of 12 hits in 35 at-bats.
The Crimson Tide jumped on the board early, scoring five combined runs in the first three innings.
In the first, junior first baseman Tyler Gentry started off the scoring with a double down the left-field line, sending sophomore left fielder T.J. Reeves across home plate for the run.
The next inning, Gentry struck out swinging with the bases loaded, but advanced to first on a passed ball. Diodati slid into home plate for Alabama's second run.
In the bottom of the third, freshman third baseman Zane Denton drove in a run with a single through the right side that sent sophomore first baseman Drew Williamson home. Diodati followed up Denton's RBI single by hitting the first home run of the season for Alabama with a two-run shot over the right field fence.
"I wasn't really sitting on any one pitch there," Diodati said. "I was lucky enough to see it out of the hand and [Huskies senior pitcher David Stiehl] kind of left it up a little bit and I was lucky enough to get a good piece of it."
After three scoreless innings, Alabama added four more runs to its total in the seventh, highlighted by an RBI-single up the middle by junior JUCO transfer outfielder Jackson Tate in his first-ever at-bat in a Crimson Tide uniform. Senior shortstop Kolby Robinson earned the run.
Diodati wasn't finished just yet, though. In the bottom of the eighth, Diodati hit his second home run of the afternoon, crossing the plate for Alabama's 10th and final run.
"I'm not going to lie my first at-bat I was pretty nervous," Diodati said. "But you know you see a couple of pitches and pitch by pitch it gets a little bit easier as you go and you know once that first at-bat was under my belt I kind of calmed down a little bit for the second one.
"It was really cool in my first game and to be able to do that it was special."
Alabama finished its opening day with a 10-0 shutout of Northeastern.
In total, the Crimson Tide used four pitchers in the victory, allowing only four total hits and striking out 11 batters. Prielipp led the team in innings pitched with four, strikeouts with seven and walks with four.
"I was pretty excited because it's a big deal as a freshman to start in the SEC as a freshman on Friday night," Prielipp said. "I think I'm ready and I hope I can start every Friday night from now on.
"The first inning I had a big adrenaline rush but after that I found my groove a little bit."
Senior Northeastern lefty Kyle Murphy is credited with the loss. Murphy pitched two innings, allowing four runs off of three hits, walked four and struck out three. In total, the Huskies used five pitchers, striking out a total of 10 batters.
Alabama is now 1-0 to start the season, but Bohannon knows very well that there are still 55 games left to play in a tough SEC.
"We've got 55 more regular-season games to go," Bohannon said. "There will be plenty of ups and downs for them individually and for us as a team but these are certainly the right guys."
The Crimson Tide continues its opening weekend Saturday against Northeastern (12 p.m. CT, SEC Network+).