Southeast runs into an 'ace'

Sunday, March 14, 2004

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- If the University of Alabama baseball team is thinking about pinning a nickname on freshman pitcher Wade LeBlanc, "ace" might do.

For the second straight start, the left-hander threw a complete-game shutout, allowing just five hits for a 2-0 victory against Southeast Missouri State University on Saturday at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

"It felt good," said LeBlanc, who has not allowed a run in his last 19 innings, and just one in 32 innings. "It's the second week in a row that I've been able to come out and do what the coach wants me to, go the whole way and give the bullpen rest, because we're going to need them a lot more during conference.

"If I can do this against a conference team, that will be saying something. These teams are good, but not what we're going to see in a couple of weeks."

LeBlanc (4-1) mixed in a fastball, slider, change and curveball in dropping his ERA to 0.92. His 10 strikeouts were one shy of his season high, and of the 126 pitches thrown, 97 were strikes.

Incidentally, the school record for complete game shutouts in a season is four. The career record is seven.

LeBlanc didn't even have ball three called until the fifth inning, when he ran into his only trouble. With two outs, Southeast Missouri State (4-7) loaded the bases with two walks and a single, but junior shortstop Ernie Bracamonte lined out to right.

Freshman right fielder Michael McCallister, who was hitting just .195, had a part in both runs for Alabama (13-4).

In the fifth, he singled to left, stole second and scored on sophomore catcher David Ferazza's single up the middle.

In the seventh, senior left fielder Ryan Beagle walked and went to third on McCallister's double to right-center. Beagle scored on freshman center fielder Brandon Belcher's ground ball to first.

Southeast pitcher Anthony Maupin (1-2) was also impressive as he worked all eight innings, allowing six hits. The junior right-hander struck out three and walked one.

Junior center fielder Frankie Montiel led the Indians' offense with two hits.

Alabama goes for a three-game sweep in today's 2 p.m. finale.

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