The Alabama Crimson Tide played their most complete series of the year, in a three-game sweep of the Auburn Tigers this weekend. The Tide won on Friday 4-2, took Saturday's game 7-6, and dominated on Sunday, winning 14-4. 'Bama played great in all aspects of the game, excelling on the mound, in the field and at the plate.
Game One: Alabama 4 Auburn 2
The opening game of the series was a classic pitching duel between Alabama's Taylor Guilbeau and Auburn's Cole Lipscomb. Both pitchers threw 6.2 innings and allowed two earned runs apiece. Guilbeau allowed seven hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. Lipscomb allowed six hits with one walk and six strikeouts. Neither starter was involved in the decision.
Auburn manufactured a run in the first after a lead off double by Kyler Deese, a sac bunt, and a ground ball out by Anfernee Grier. Thru the first six innings 'Bama only had one hit,a double by Cody Henry, before finally getting to Lipscomb in the seventh inning. Kyle Overstreet laced a one out single, then scored on a triple by Henry. J.C. Wilihite drove in Henry with a single to give the Tide a 2-1 lead. Chance Vincent and Chandler Avant also followed with singles, but the Tide left the bases loaded in the inning.
The Tiger's Blake Logan lead off the bottom of the seventh with a double before Guilbeau rallied to get two outs with a strikeout and a fly ball. When Guilbeau walked Deese, Ray Castillo replaced him on the mound. Melvin Gray singled to tie the score, but Grier struck out to end the threat with the score tied 2-2.
In the top of the ninth, with one out, Chance Vincent and Will Haynie hit back to back home runs, on consecutive pitches for a 4-2 'Bama lead. Vincent's blast, his second of the season, went over the Auburn version of the Green Monster. Haynie's seventh home run was a prodigious shot over the scoreboard in left center field that went an estimated 450 feet.
Thomas Burrows tossed the final 1.2 innings for Alabama, and picked up his first win of the season, giving up no hits while walking two and striking out three. The Tiger's had the tying runs on base with one out in the ninth before Burrows got a big strikeout of Grier and a fly out from Daniel Robert to end the game.
Avant, Henry and Vincent all collected two hits each for the Tide, and the team had 10 hits, drew one walk, and struck out seven times in the game. Auburn collected nine hits with four walks, struck out 12 times and stranded 11 runners on base.
Game Two: Alabama 7 Auburn 6
Alabama freshman Jake Walters squared off against Auburn senior Rocky McCord in Saturday's game, on a day where McCord graduated in the morning and pitched in the afternoon. The Tide scored first in the fourth inning when Kyle Overstreet lead off with a double and scored on a single by J.C. Wilihite.
Going into the sixth inning, Walters had only given up two hits with one walk and five strikeouts. The Tigers finally broke through in the bottom of the sixth. With one outm Walters fumbled a bunt from Kyler Deese for an error. Melvin Gray followed with a walk, before Daniel Robert laced a two out, two run, double to give AU a 2-1 lead.
The Tide answered in the top of the seventh scoring four runs off of McCord and Justin Camp. Mikey White drew a one out walk, followed by a Casey Hughston single. Overstreet then singled to scored White, tying the score. Cody Henry drilled a two run double, followed by a Chance Vincent RBI single, and a 5-3 'Bama lead heading to the bottom of the seventh.
Auburn evened the score off of Mitch Greer on a walk and a two-run Cody Nulph home run in the bottom of the seventh. Jay Shaw replaced Greer and ended the inning with no further damage. 'Bama once again answered in the top of the eighth when Chandler Avant led off with a single, and reached third when right fielder Damon Haecker misplaced the ball. Georgie Salem then banged a triple off the right center field wall to give the Tide the lead. White singled to score Salem for a 7-5 advantage.
Auburn touched Shaw for another run in the bottom of the eighth, with two walks and a single, who was then replaced by Thomas Burrows. Burrows went the final 1.1 innings, allowing one hit with no walks and one strikeout. Shaw ran his record to 2-0 with the victory and Burrows collected his fifth save of the season.
The Tide collected 17 hits in the game - White and Overstreet both garnered three, while Avant, Salem, Vincent and Haynie got two hits each. The Tide drew three walks, stuck out five times, and stranded 12 runners on base. Auburn had eight hits, drew five walks, and stuck out nine times in the game.
Vincent was injured in a scary collision with Casey Hughston in the bottom of the seventh on a pop fly down the right field line. Vincent was running the play out, as Hughston was running in, and the two collided. Hughston's shoulder appeared to hit Vincent in the head, sending the latter to the ground, where he lay seemed to lay unconscious for 20-25 minutes before being loaded on a backboard and transported to the hospital. The injury obviously quieted the sellout crowd, but as Vincent was finally loaded onto the ambulance, he raised a thumb to the crowd, a standing ovation. Preliminary examinations show that Vincent suffered a separated shoulder but fortunately did not sustain an injury to his head or neck injury.
Game Three: Alabama 11 Auburn 4
Sunday's win completed the Alabama sweep in a game that was closer than the final made it appear. Geoffrey Bramblett faced off versus Dalton Rentz and was staked to an early 3-0 lead in the second. Kyle Overstreet led off with a single and Cody Henry walked. When J.C. Wilhite tried to sacrifice bunt, he beat it out for a hit, and Overstreet scored when the ball as thrown away. Georgie Salem hit a ground ball that was booted, scoring another run, and Mikey White singled-in the the third run of the inning.
Bramblett had only allowed one hit through the first five innings, notching five strikeouts and issuing just one walk. Alabama extended the lead to 5-0 in the sixth when Wilhite singled and Will Haynie hit another long drive over the left field wall for his team-leading seventh home run of the season.
The Tigers roughed up Bramblett for three more runs in the sixth when Kyler Deese led off with a walk and Melvin Gray singled. Bramblett struck out Anfernee Grier for out one, but Daniel Robert tripled in the right field corner to bring home two more. Damon Haecker singled Robert in before left fielder Riley Colburn robbed Blake Logan of extra bases with a leaping catch at the wall.
As was the case all weekend, the Tide were able to answer the Tigers' score by adding more runs in the top of the seventh. Henry doubled and Wilihite singled, before Henry scored on a wild pitch, making the score 6-3 Alabama. Ray Castillo replaced Bramblett in the seventh and gave up a run on three singles and a bases loaded walk. Salem then made the play of the game on a running, diving catch of a drive by Robert, saving three runs, ending the inning, the Auburn threat, and -all but certainly- the Tigers' chance to salvage one game of the series.
Holding a 6-4 lead going to the ninth inning, the Tide added insult to injury, exploding for eight runs to put the game away, and rub salt into the the Tigers' wounds.. Henry doubled to start the onslaught, Wilhite sacrificed Henry to third, before Haynie was intentionally walked. Colburn then laid down a perfect suicide squeeze to score Henry. And, when the ball was thrown away, Colburn and Haynie advanced. Avant singled to score another run, then Salem walked, and White was hit by a pitch. Casey Hughston hit into a force play to score another run. Overstreet hit a ground ball to the second baseman, who committed the Tigers' fifth error of the game which scored yet another Alabama run. In his second at-bat of the inning, Henry singled in another run, as did Wilhite. Hayne was the hit by a pitch with the bases loaded for an RBI, and Colburn knocked in the eight run of the inning.
Thomas Burrows, pitching for the third straight game, threw the ninth inning, allowing a walk, but inducing a double play and a strikeout to end the game. The Tide had 16 hits, drew seven walks, but stranded 14 runners. Eight of the Tide runs were unearned.The Tigers had seven hits, drew four walks, and struck out nine times in the game.
Salem had four hits, drew a walk and reached on an error. Wilhite added four hits and Henry had three. Bramblett recorded his team leading seventh win, and is now 7-3 on the season. The sweep of the Tigers in Auburn was the Tide's first since May 7-8 1983 (Alabama's last home sweep of Auburn was April 6-8 2012.)
The Tide played their best ball of the season, on the road and in a hostile environment no less, putting three complete games together for the first time in SEC play this season. The pitchers were very good, the defense was outstanding, and the hitting was timely, as the Tide collected 42 hits in the three games. Coach Mitch Gaspard improved his lifetime record to 16-10 against the Tigers.
Alabama plays next Tuesday in a "home" game in Huntsville against Mercer at 6:30 p.m., before hosting Vanderbilt at the Hoover Met on Thursday-Friday-Saturday to end the regular season. It appears the team might be peaking at this late juncture of the season, and should safely be a participant in the SEC Tournament [with the sweep, Alabama moves from 13th to 11th in the SEC Standings. Alabama's RPI improves to 62, while Auburn's drops to No. 15. The Vanderbilt Commodores are ranked 9th-13th, depending on poll.]
*Salem was 6-13 with a triple, two stolen bases, a walk, hit by pitch, an RBI and run scored
*Wilhite was 6-12 with an RBI, stolen base, two runs, a walk and a sacrifice
*White was 5-13 with a walk, RBI,stolen base, and hit by pitch
*Henry was 6-14 with three doubles, a triple, four runs scored, a walk and three runs driven in
*Overstreet was 5-14 with a double, four runs scored, and a RBI
*Haynie was 4-12 with two home runs and four runs driven in
*Vincent was 4-8 with a home run and two runs driven in and a stolen base
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch It!!