FLORENCE — Given the chance to start due to an injury, North Alabama outfielder Jake Ward made the most of his opportunity Sunday.
Ward capped a big weekend by going 3 for 3 with two RBIs and two runs scored in leading the Lions to a 10-3 victory over Kentucky State.
The win completed a three-game sweep for UNA (5-4), which outscored the Thorobreds (1-7) 46-3 in the series.
With Josh Doyle out with an ankle injury Ward started all three games over the weekend. The former Russellville and Shelton State standout went 5 for 9 in the series with seven RBIs and four runs scored.
“I got my chance this weekend and was seeing the ball really well,” Ward said.
“I felt really comfortable at the plate in all three games. I’ve got to continue doing that every time I get an opportunity.”
Coach Mike Keehn said Ward gives the Lions outstanding depth in the outfield.
“Jake stepped up every time he came up today,” Keehn said. “It’s tough because we’ve got great depth in the outfield and only three spots to fill. But all of those guys have a great attitude and they are all ready when they get an opportunity to contribute.”
After Kentucky State scored an unearned run in the top of the first, UNA answered with two in the bottom of the first. Andrew Almon and Josh Cyr each singled and both scored on a double by Matthew Tittle to put UNA up 2-1.
Ward singled home a run in the fourth and later scored on a double by Will Dennis to make it 4-1. The Thorobreds cut it to 4-2 in the fifth but UNA responded again with Ward and Josh Carpenter each singling home a run to extend the lead to 7-2.
UNA added two runs in the seventh. Dylan Boston doubled and scored when Drew Humphrey doubled. Humphrey then stole third and scored on a throwing error. Boston added a run-scoring double in the eighth.
“It was very important for us to play well after losing four in a row last week,” Ward said. “Our pitchers did a great job, the offense stepped up and our defense was solid. We needed this big time.”
Cade Medley (1-1) allowed three hits, no earned runs, four walks and struck out six in six innings to earn the win. Drew Mobley, Jacob Westerhouse and Morgan McCarley each worked an inning in relief.
“Cade was not as sharp today as he has been,” Keehn said. “He usually fills up the zone with strikes, but he got behind today. Westerhouse and McCarley did a nice job coming in and throwing strikes.”
Tittle finished with two hits and two RBIs, while Boston had two doubles.
UNA will host Trevecca Nazarene in a single game Tuesday at 2 p.m.
“In this program we never lose four in a row, so it was important to bounce back this weekend,” Keehn said. “It’s early in the year, but we’ve got a lot of ground to make up, so each game is important.”
Jeff McIntyre can be reached at 256-740-5737 or jeff.mcintyre@TimesDaily.com.