FLORENCE — North Alabama’s baseball season couldn’t have gotten off to a better, or easier start on a cool overcast Wednesday afternoon at Mike Lane Field.
The Lions, coming off a season in which they advanced to the NCAA South Regional tournament, scored 15 runs in their first at-bat in 2013, sending 21 batters to the plate on the way to a 29-2 victory over LeMoyne-Owen in the first game of the doubleheader.
The second game was about the same. UNA scored four runs in the first inning on the way to a 14-0 victory. The Lions scored in every inning of the doubleheader against a Magicians team that was 10-25 a year ago.
UNA coach Mike Keehn saw plenty of positives in what was not a competitive doubleheader.
“Both pitchers — it was an opportunity to get some guys that will help with our depth — pitched well,” he said. “For the most part we played pretty well defensively. What we’ve been talking about was how we approach hitting, Obviously, we’ll be facing better pitching this weekend but we had some guys who had real good approaches at the plate. It’s a big score and we scored a lot of runs, but a lot of that is because our guys were patient at the plate.”
Four players drove in four runs each in the first game as the Lions pounded out 19 hits, had 11 walks and took advantage of five errors to waltz to the win. They followed with 15 hits, six walks and four hit batters in the second game.
Four Lions making their debut as position starters had big games in the opener. Left fielder Bradley Noland collected four hits, scored three times and had two RBIs. DH Dylan Boston had two hits and drove in four runs, while shortstop Matthew Tittle had four RBIs.
Catcher Will Dennis also knocked in four runs.
“Bradley had a good day,” Keehn said. “He’s good when he stays within. All the new guys played well. Both (Thomas) Lundborg and Will (Dennis) were good behind the plate. That was one of the things we needed to see, and both handled themselves well.”
Daymon Erikson, making his mound debut, allowed one hit in three innings for the win. Riley Sanderson and Brad Van Fechtman finished up the seven-inning game.
Eric Wilson won the second game, pitching four innings. Drew Mobley, Morgan McCarley and Ben Seabrook each pitched an inning. The four combined on a two-hitter.
Also in the opener, third baseman Andrew Almon had three hits, scored three times and knocked in four runs. Josh Cyr scored four runs and drove in four runs, and Josh Doyle scored twice and had two RBIs.
Noland was happy the Lions got off to a good start.
“That was huge for us to come out and set the tone for hopefully the rest of the season,” he said. “I was a little nervous. I’ll be nervous until the last time I play no matter where I’m playing at. Playing with those jitters is fun. It helps keep you focused. It was a fun day. It was a good way to come out to start my UNA career.”
In the second game, the Lions jumped on top 4-0 highlighted by Cyr’s two-run single and added single runs in the second, third and fourth innings.
They added two runs in the fifth and scored five times in the sixth.
Cyr drove in three more runs to finish with seven for the doubleheader. Noland scored four runs, had two hits and drove in two, while Josh Carpenter had two hits and two RBIs.
Keehn liked what he saw as the Lions head to Florida Southern today for three games beginning Friday.
“You don’t know, sometimes a guy puts on a different uniform and you don’t know if they can keep themselves under control,” Keehn said. “All the new guys bought into what we are trying to do. Anytime you get out there and can play, it’s just better.”
Contact Gregg Dewalt at 256-740-5748 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @greggdewalt on Twitter.