By (Cody Estremera)

After an offensive explosion over the weekend, Alabama’s pitching staff was the story on Tuesday in its 4-0 win against Middle Tennessee.

Alabama sent out seven total pitchers, four of which didn’t see the mound during the weekend series against Valparaiso. It allowed just four hits, while striking out eight Blue Raiders. Its first two pitchers were lefty Garret Rukes and right-handed pitcher Brock Love.

Love and Rukes both had their season cut short last year because of injuries that required Tommy John surgery.

“We really wanted to get Garret and Brock out there,” Bohannon said. “We mentioned a couple times that it’s going to take some time to get guys in the right roles. You don’t want to make a rash decision based on one outing, good or bad. I think you’ll continue to see us pitch a lot of people over the next two, three or four weeks

Rukes got the start and went two innings, striking out two, while allowing just one hit. He threw 27 pitches, 18 of which were strikes.

Love came in behind him, also throwing two innings. He allowed two leadoff hits, and struck two guys out, throwing 32 pitches in the process [24 strikes.]

“It [Rukes and Love’s pitch count] wasn’t just a hard, fast number,” Alabama coach Brad Bohannon said. “The thing with pitch counts is if you throw 24 in one inning, that’s differenet than throwing 24 in two innings. We certainly weren’t going to run them out there at 50 or 60.”

Tyler Adams finished with the win. He threw one inning and struck out a batter. Right-handed pitcher Mason Duke threw 14 pitches, striking out the side in his one inning of work.

Alabama also returned outfielder Chandler Taylor and Deacon Medders, who were both suspended for the series against Valparaiso. Medders sat down all three batters he faced, while Taylor went just 1-for-5 with a single and a RBI.

Alabama did almost all its damage in the second inning. It started with a single by Hunter Alexander that hit off pitcher Carson Lester. He advanced to second by a hard-hit ground ball to the first baseman. He was knocked in by Chandler Avant, who doubled down the left field line. Cobie Vance singled in Avant and shortstop Jett Manning to make it a three-run game. Taylor’s RBI single came in the eighth inning.

With the win, Alabama moves to 4-0 on the season, which is its best start since 2013 where it started 6-0. The win also ties its win total from day games last year.

Alabama hosts Washington State on Friday at 3 p.m. Junior pitcher Sam Finnerty gets the start for the Crimson Tide, while senior Jake Walters starts on Saturday.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports