Alabama pitching only allowed six runs all weekend in taking the series from Auburn two games to one. Auburn won the Friday night game 2-1, the Tide's sixth loss by that score this year But 'Bama bounced back to win Saturday 4-1,and on Sunday 4-3. The Tide is now 23-1 on the year when scoring at least three runs, and 0-10 when scoring less than three runs. The games were played in a near packed house each day, and the atmosphere was electric,unlike any that has been seen in Tuscaloosa in a number of years.
Friday Night, Game One, Lost 2-1
The Tide was on the wrong end of the all to familiar score of 2-1 on Friday night, losing for the sixth time this year by that score. Auburn used an outstanding start by Dillon Ortman and a surprise relief appearance by Keegan Thompson to hold 'Bama at bay. Spencer Turnbull and Nick Eicholtz matched them on the mound for 'Bama, but Auburn use a two run second inning to win the game. Turnbull allowed two runs in the second inning on three singles, a walk, a hit batter and a sacrifice fly. Connor Short drove in one run with a sacrifice fly and Jordan Ebert drove in the other one with a single. 'Bama had an excellent chance in the fourth to tie or go ahead. Kyle Overstreet lined a one out single, followed by one by Wade Wass. Austen Smith was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Overstreet then scored on a single by the hot hitting Chance Vincent. A double play ended the rally, one run short. Turnbull settled in and last through seven innings, throwing 109 pitches. The big right hander allowed only four hits, walked two, hit three, and struck out six. Eicholtz pitched the final two innings and didn't allow a hit, and walked and struck out one.
Ortman pitched into the eighth inning, and after giving up a lead off double to Georgie Salem, was relieved by Keegan Thompson. Thompson was slated to start Saturday's game for the, and he is their top pitcher. Auburn coach Sonny Golloway saw a chance to steal a win, and went for it. Thompson was brilliant, getting out of the eighth inning jam with two strikeouts and a weak ground out. In the ninth Thompson struck out the first three batters, the third being Vincent, who reached first base when the ball got away from catcher Blake Austin. Casey Hughston pinch hit and lined a single, putting the tying run on second base, but Thompson induced Hunter Webb to fly out to end the game, giving the Tigers the opening game victory. Ortman got the victory, going seven innings, allowing five hits, walking one and striking out two. Thompson got the save with two innings of one hit ball, and five strikeout. Tiger second baseman Dan Glevenyak came to the plate four times, and was hit by a pitch in all four appearances.
* Wade Wass was 2-4 and was hit by a pitch
* Georgie Salem was 1-4 with a double, the only extra base hit in the game
* Kyle Overstreet was 1-4, and scored the Tides only run
* Chance Vincent was 1-4 with the only RBi
* Casey Hughston was 1-1
Game Two, Saturday, Won 4-1
The story of Saturday's game was junior left hander Justin Kamplain. In the longest stint of his career, the Jasper native pitched 8 2/3 sparkling innings, just missing the complete game. The Tiger's started lefty Michael O'Neal, their normal Sunday starter. Alabama continually had pressure on Auburn throughout the game, collecting 13 hits, two walks and two batters reached by hit by pitch. However the Tigers turned four double plays and the Tide stranded 11 runners on base, and couldn't quite put the finishing touch on the team from Lee County.
'Bama finally broke through in the bottom of the fourth when Kyle Overstreet cracked a lead off home run, his third of the season. The next two batters reached base, but were stranded on second and third. The Tide added another run in the fifth. Georgie Salem singled to lead off, and advanced to third on a passed ball and wild pitch. Wade Wass singled him home. Overstreet and Austen Smith followed with singles of their own, loading the bases. However once again a double play ended the inning. Meanwhile Kamplain was cruising along, and didn't allow a hit until Jordan Ebert had a bunt single in the sixth when Kamplain, Smith and Overstreet had a miscommunication about who was to field the ball. The Tide added insurance in the seventh, adding two runs. Ben Moore singled and stole second. After a pop out bunt attempt for the first out, Overstreet walked and Smith was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. Chance Vincent hit a single to score Moore, and Overstreet followed him home on a throwing error, giving the Tide a 4-0 lead.
Kamplain came out to pitch the ninth, trying to finish off the shut out. After striking out the first batter, Blake Austin lined a double down the left field line. The lefty gathered himself and struck out pinch hitter Blake Logan for the second out. Connor Short reached first after being hit by a pitch. followed by an RBI single b Damon Haecker. At that point, after 125 pitches, Kamplain was relieved by freshmen Thomas Burrows. With the tying run at the plate Burrows earned the save by forcing Dan Glevenyak to pop out to Vincent at third base, giving the Tide the 4-1 victory. Kamplain got the victory, giving him a record of 3-2. Burrows recored his fifth save. O'Neal was the losing pitcher, and has a 2-4 mark.
*Chance Vincent was 3-4 with an RBi
* Hunter Webb was 2-4
* Austen Smith was 2-2, with a walk and a costly hit by pitch
* Kyle Overstreet was 2-3 with an RBI, a walk, and two runs scored
* Ben Moore was 2-5, with a run and a stolen base
* Wade Wass was 1-3 with a walk and a RBI
* Georgie Salem was 1-5 with a run scored
Game Three, Sunday, Won 4-3
In an exciting game, the Tide got their sixth walk off win of the year on Sunday, with Casey Hughston being the hero this time. Wade Wass has been the hero twice, and has been joined by Hunter Webb, Kyle Overstreet and Mikey White in driving in the winning run in the bottom of the last inning.
Jonathan Keller got the start for 'Bama and was faced by Tuscaloosa native Terrance Dedrick for the Tigers. Auburn coach Sonny Golloway shook up his lineup and started seven freshmen in the game. The Tide jumped out to an early lead by scoring twice in the first inning. White led off the game with a single, and Georgie Salem also singled. Ben Moore successfully sacrifice bunted them to second and third. Wass's infield grounder scored White. Overstreet worked a walk, bringing Hughston to the plate. Hughston then singled to score Salem. 'Bama added another run in the second. Daniel Cucjen, playing because of an injury to Austen Smith, singled and stole second base. Salem lined an RBI single to score Cucjen and give the Tide a seemingly comfortable 3-0 lead.
Keller had an unusual third inning, allowing five hits,two walks and three runs. If not for the strong, accurate right arm of Salem in center field , the game could have gotten away from the Tide in the inning. Salem threw out J.J. Shaffer at the plate for the first out of the inning, and for good measure gunned out Blake Logan for the third out of the inning. Keller settled down and didn't allow any more runs through six innings. The Maylene Alabama native scattered 10 hits, walked two, and struck out five. Ray Castillo relieved and pitched a scoreless seventh inning, allowing a hit, a walk and hitting a batter. Wass threw out Damon Haecker trying to steal, to help keep the Tigers off the board.
Trey Wingenter relieved Dedrick and held the Tide at bay for four innings, before turning the mound over to Keegan Thompson to start the eighth inning. 'Bama turned to Thomas Burrows in the eighth, and the two freshman faced off with the game on the line. Burrows allowed a two out single and stolen base in the top of the eighth, but got a ground ball to end the inning, Thompson allowed an eighth inning single to Chance Vincent, but stranded him at second, setting up to decisive ninth inning. Burrows got a ground ball and two strikeouts in the top half of the inning. Ben Moore led off the bottom of the ninth, facing his former high school teammate Thompson. Moore crushed a long drive to left, that many felt was leaving the park. However the wind knocked it down just short of the wall for the first out. Wass went with the pitch and hit a double down the right field line, putting the winning run in scoring position. Colton Freeman replaced Wass as a pinch runner. Hughston crushed the first pitch he saw from Thompson over right fielder Anfrernee Griers head for the double, driving in Freeman with the winning run. Burrows was the winning pitcher, making his record 4-1, and Thompson was tagged with the loss, making his season record 5-2.
*Casey Hughston was 3-5, with the game winning RBI double
* Georgie Salem was 3-5 with an RBI and a run scored
* Mikey White was 2-4 with a walk and run scored
* Wade Wass was 2-5 with a double and an RBI
* Daniel Cucjen was 1-4 with a stole base and run scored
*Chance Vincent was 1-4, extending his hitting streak to eight games
The series win kept the Tide in overall first place in the SEC with a record of 10-5. It may have come at a big cost however, as Austen Smith was injured when hit by a pitch in Saturdays game. Smith was unable to grip a bat on Sunday, and is due for an MRI on Monday. Smith is the teams leading hitter at .355, leads in home runs with four, RBIs with 26, total bases with 59, slugging percentage with .536, on base percentage with .445 and sacrifice flies with five. Anytime he misses will be a big blow to the offense, not to mention the stellar defense he provides at first base.Chance Vincent filled in admirably on Sunday, with Daniel Cucjen manning Vincents third base position, but over the long haul the loss would be a huge blow. Just last week Smith was named to the mid season player of the year watch list, one of only 50 players in the country to be so named.
The crowds this weekend were unbelievable, with announced crowds over 6,000 on Friday and Saturday. This does not include the approximately 1,500 crammed into the right field plaza on both nights. Sunday their was around 5,000 inside and 1,000 in the plaza. Former player Jon Kelton (2008-2012) said on Friday night " this is awesome, this is like a totally different place than were I played for five years. I would have done anything to have played in this atmosphere." Their is something special being built at the Capstone, and despite some peoples feelings, the sky is not falling on 'Bama baseball because of a loss here and there. That's the nature of the beast in baseball, which is a game of failure. The best hitters in the world fail seven out of ten times at the plate. If a team wins two out of every three games they are doing outstanding. Baseball is a long season, and there are ebbs and flows, peaks and valleys, and teams can't get to high during the peaks, nor to low during the valleys. The teams that stay the course and play consistent, winning baseball eventually come out on top.
This week 'Bama hosts Jackson State on Tuesday at 6:05 p.m., travels to Birmingham to play UAB at Regions Field on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., and then travels to Knoxville take on Tennessee on the weekend. Friday's game is set for 5:00 p.m., Saturday's at 3:00 p.m. and Sunday's first pitch is at 1:00 p.m. Tucker Hawley and Geoffrey Bramblett will most likely pitch the mid week games, and the normal rotation of Spencer Turnbull, Justin Kamplain, and Jon Keller look to be on the hill vs Tennessee.
Bama Baseball Fever,Catch it!
Roll Tide Y'all Roger
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Right field Ragers waiting to get in
Roger with winning pitcher Justin Kamplain
Saban just before throwing out the first pitch.