Needing a series victory in the worst way, the Alabama Crimson Tide responded this weekend, taking two of three from the Georgia Bulldogs at the Hoover Met. The series victory was the first home SEC series win of the year for the Tide. 'Bama won an 11 inning thriller on Friday, lost an 8-1 clunker on Saturday, and bounced back to take the series with a 5-2 win on Sunday.
Friday-Won 7-6- 11 innings
Taylor Guilbeau took his normal Friday spot in the rotation and pitched six effective innings, leaving with the Tide behind 3-2. The lanky lefty allowed six hits with five walks and five strikeouts in throwing 100 pitches on the night. Sean McLaughlin started for the Bulldogs and went 6.1 innings, allowing eight hits with two walks and nine strikeouts.
Alabama got on the board first in the second inning when Cody Henry singled, advanced to third on a J.C. Wilhite double, and scored on a single by Chance Vincent. Georgia tied the game in the top of the third on the strength of two walks and an RBI single by Brandon Stephens. 'Bama tied the game in the third when Mikey White doubled and scored on two out triple by Henry, the second of Henry's four hits on the night.
Georgia took the lead in the fifth with a two out rally. Guilbeau got the first two batters easily on just three pitches before running into trouble. Three singles and two walks scored two Dog runs for a 3-2 UGA lead. The Tide retook the lead in the bottom of the seventh as Georgie Salem drew a lead off walk and stole second, before advancing to third on a single by Casey Hughston. The freshman Henry struck again, blasting a two run double to left center for a 4-3 Tide lead.
Jay Shaw relieved Guilbeau and threw a perfect seventh inning with a strikeout. Ray Castillo followed Shaw and pitched a scoreless eighth inning, and came out in the ninth to try and nail the game down. Nick King lead off the ninth for the Dogs with a single, followed by a walk to Skyler Weber. Stephen Wrenn tried to sacrifice the runners over, and beat out his bunt for a single, loading the bases with no outs. Thomas Burrows came on to replace Castillo and the first batter he faced, Jared Walsh hit a game tying sacrifice fly to left field. Stephens then hit a fly ball to centerfield, which Salem fielded for out two, and threw to Will Haynie at the plate to nail the runner for out three.
For the third time in their last four SEC games the Tide headed to extra innings. Daniel Nichols had a lead off single and was sacrificed to second by Trevor Kieboom. Burrows then hit Mike Bell with a pitch and gave up a double to Keegan McGoveren to score a run. Burrows hit King in the foot to load the bases, then struck out Weber for out two, which brought Mitch Greer out of the bullpen. Greer walked Wrenn to force in a run before retiring the side on a pop out.
The Tide went into the bottom of the 10th needing two runs to extend the game, and answered. Kyle Overstreet led off with a single, followed by Henry's fourth hit of the night, a single. Wilhite lined a single to score Overstreet and moved Henry to second. Coach Mitch Gaspard sent Riley Colburn into pinch run for Henry, which turned out to be a brilliant move. Will Haynie laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move the runners up 90 feet. Vincent lifted a fly ball to short centerfield, with Colburn tagging up and trying to score. Wrenn made a strong throw, forcing Colburn to go air borne, which he did, flying over the catcher and slapping the plate as he landed, tying the game.
With one out in the 11th Nichols reached base via an error and advanced on a single by Kieboom. Bell hit a fly ball to Chandler Avant in left for out two, and Avant hit cut off man Daniel Cujen at third with the throw. Cucjen fired to second baseman Overstreet, who ran Kieboom back toward first, and doubled him up with a flip to Vincent for out three.
'Bama ended the game quickly in the 11th, as Salem hit a double and scored on a single to center by White, for a thrilling 7-6 Tide win. Greer was the winning pitcher, making his record 1-1. Jared Cheek took the loss for the Dogs, and fell to 2-2 on the year. The Tide had 14 hits in the game, with Henry's career high four leading the way. White added three, with Salem and Wilhite collecting two apiece. 'Bama struck out 14 times and drew only two walks and stranded 11 runners on base. Tide pitchers walked eight and struck out eight Georgia batters.
After the thrilling extra inning victory on Friday night, the Tide came out flat on Saturday, and never really had a chance against Georgia's Ryan Lawlor. Lawlor pitched seven innings, allowing only four singles with one walk and 11 strikeouts. Will Carter started for the Tide and went 5.1 innings, allowing six hits, three walks, one strikeout, and four runs (three earned.)
Georgia put up three runs in the third inning on two hits, three walks, a sacrifice bunt and an error. 'Bama answered back with their only run in the third when Chance Vincent reached on a two base error and scored on a single by Georgie Salem. The Dogs put the game away in the sixth with three more runs. Carter allowed a single to lead off the inning, followed by a sacrifice bunt. Jake Hubbard relieved and allowed an infield single, followed by a two run double by Skyler Weber. Stephen Wrenn singled in the innings third run. The aggressive Dogs stole three bases in the inning as well.
Alex Watkins followed Hubbard and allowed two runs (one earned) in 1.2 innings. Zac Rogers relieved Watkins and pitched 1.1 hitless innings with one walk and two strikeouts. The Tide collected five hits, all singles, with Salem tallying two of the hits. 'Bama struck out 11 times and drew only one walk in the game. Tide pitchers walked five and struck out four for the game. The loss set up the rubber game of the series for Sunday.
Sunday- Won 5-2
Alabama called on sophomore right-hander Geoffrey Bramblett to take the mound in Sunday's game three, and Bramblett answered the call. The Hoover native pitched seven very good innings, allowing six hits, one walk, a career high nine strikeouts and two earned runs.
The Tide struck first in the first on an inside the park home run by Mikey White. With two strikes White fouled a pitched, that bounced and was gloved by the catcher. Initially the home plate umpire called White out on strikes, but was overturned by the first base umpire. White took advantage of his second chance by lining a pitch to center, that skipped by a diving Stephen Wrenn, and rolled all the way to the fence. White never slowed down, rounding the bases for his fourth round tripper of the year. The inside-the-parker was the first one for a Tide player since 2010 when current director of operations, David Kindred had one.
Georgia tied the game in the top of the third on a single, a sacrifice bunt, and a RBI single by Wrenn. 'Bama scored the rest of their runs in the bottom of the third, while batting around. White drew a walk, Casey Hughston singled and Kyle Overstreet was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Cody Henry dribbled a ball about 10 feet in front of the plate to score a run and keep the bases loaded. UGA brought in Taylor Hicks to relieve, and he fell off the mound before throwing a pitch for balk, scoring a run. J.C. Wilhite followed with an RBI single, and Will Haynie hit a sacrifice fly to score the Tide's final run of the game.
Bramblett looked to be in big trouble in the seventh when the first three batters reached on a double, a single and a hit by pitch. Bramblett balked to score a run, before settling down and striking out the next three batters to end the inning with the Tide holding a 5-2 lead. Freshman Jake Walters relieved in the eighth, and ran into immediate trouble, allowing an infield single and a walk to start the inning. Walters recovered, getting a pop out and starting a double play to end the inning, and then had a easy ninth inning with two strikeouts to earn the first save of his career. Bramblett earned his team leading fifth win of the year. White added a double to his home run and was 2-3 with a walk. Henry had a perfect 2-2 day and drew two walks. The Tide struck out nine times, but drew five walks. 'Bama pitchers struck out 11 and only walked two for the game.
* Cody Henry was 7-10 with a double, a triple, four RBIs and two runs scored
*Mikey White was 6-13 with two doubles, a home run, two RBIs and three runs scored
*Georgie Salem was 4-14 with a double, stolen base, two runs scored and an RBI
* Kyle Overstreet was 3-12 and has reached base in 23 straight games
The Tide took a much needed series, and needs to build on the positives, and work on the negatives of the weekend. Henry has become a force since being inserted in the lineup, and is now hitting .313 (after starting the season 1-20) and has a .443 on base percentage, drawing 14 walks in just 64 at bats. Henry's 14 walks tie him for second on the team. White continues to hit well, and his tied for the team lead in average with Casey Hughston at .372. White also leads in doubles with 13, triples with five, runs with 34 and is tied with Hughston for the team lead with four home runs.J.C. Wilhite continues to hit well and has a .313 average. Overstreet keeps reaching base and his hitting .304 and is second in RBIs with 26. Bramblett and Guilbeau continue to give the team a chance every time they take the mound. Ray Castillo, Jay Shaw and Mitch Greer have been solid out of the bullpen and Jake Walters has been quite a find in his nine appearances (four starts), with a 3-1 record and a 1.75 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 25.2 innings.
On the negative side, Tide hitters struck out 34 times this weekend, while drawing only seven walks, while the pitching staff walked 14, hit three, and stuck out 22. On the season 'Bama hitters have struck out 291 times and have drawn 116 walks, while the pitchers have walked 158 and struck out 267 opposing batters.
The Tide returns to action on Tuesday, hosting UAB at The Hoover Met in a 6;00 p.m. game that is scheduled to be televised on the SEC Network. The team travels to Columbia Missouri for a three game series with the Tigers, staring with a 6:00 p.m. Friday game, followed by a 7:00 p.m. Saturday game and a noon Sunday finale. All times are CST and all three will be available on line with SEC Network Plus. 'Bama needs to take at least two of three in the series to get back into the thick of the SEC race.
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