By (Cody Estremera)

After winning its second series of the season, Alabama continued its winning by defeating the Eastern Illinois Panthers, 5-0.

Garret Rukes lead the way for the Crimson Tide in the win. The freshman notched his first career win, going eight innings, which was a season high for all Alabama pitchers this season. He allowed just four base runners in total, coming off two hits and a pair of walks.

“Whenever you’ve got command, you can win,” head coach Greg Goff said. “He’s got great poise. He’s confident. When he has command, and locates on both sides of the plate like he did with his fastball, it makes that changeup and breaking ball that much tougher.”

Rukes retired the first 11 batters of the game before finally allowing a walk. The Panthers didn’t get their first hit till the sixth inning. Mike Ozypok pitched the final inning allowing a hit.

“I had a lot of good fastball command,” Rukes said. “I felt most of the day I was able to put it wherever I wanted to, and then the changeup was there. Was able to get a lot of movement on both of those.”

Offensively Cody Henry lead the way for Alabama, finishing 2-for-2 with a home run, two RBIs and a pair of walks. Three other players finished with multiple hits in the game. Logan Carey and Connor Short, who were two of the three hitters with multiple hits, both scored in the game.

“We stressed to our guys yesterday in practice, getting the leadoff guy on base today,” Goff said. “Today, we scored our first two runs with two outs. That’s what we can do. I thought our lineup one through nine was solid today. It never was stagnant. I felt like every time we came up to hit, we had a shot to get somebody on base.”

The first run of the game came in the second inning off the bat of Henry, who singled to right-center field scoring Chandler Taylor. He would later come around to score on a passed ball.

Carey scored the third run of the game in the fifth inning off a passed ball. The sixth is where Alabama would score the rest of its runs, coming off Henry’s home run and a bases loaded walk by Cobie Vance.

Brendon Allen finished with the loss for the Panthers. He went just two innings and allowed two runs, one earned. He faced just 10 batters.

The game was the coldest of the year for Alabama. It was 47 degrees at the start of the game and dropped from there.

“Today was a mental toughness day,” Goff said. “I was really pleased with how they came out and competed.”

Alabama plays the Samford Bulldogs on March 16 at 3 p.m.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports