Alabama continued its late season surge, winning its sixth straight game with a 5-3 victory over the Mercer Bears. The Tide improved to 29-24 on the year, while Mercer fell to 29-20 overall. The game was played at Joe Davis Stadium in Huntsville, as a home game for the Tide.
'Bama started Alex Watkins on the mound, and he pitched four effective innings, allowing five hits, one walk, three runs (all earned) and striking out four. Will Carter followed Watkins, and in his best outing in Crimson, pitched the final five innings, allowing three hits while walking two and striking out nine. Carter improved his record to 3-5 on the year, in his first action in over two weeks.
Mercer jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on back to back doubles by Nate Moorhouse and Howard Joe. 'Bama took a 3-1 lead in the third, scoring three times. Will Haynie singled and Chandler Avant reached on a fielder choice. Georgie Salem lined an RBI single up the middle for the first run. Mikey White was intentionally walked to load the bases for Casey Hughston. The Bears brought in left-hander Austin Lord to face Hughston, who laced a single to right to score two more runs.
Mercer tied the game in the fourth on a walk, a single, an RBI ground out and a sacrifice fly. The Tide took the lead for good in the bottom of half of the fourth when J.C. Wilhite tripled and scored on a single by Haynie for a 4-3 lead. Carter replaced Watkins in the top of the fifth and struck out the side on 12 pitches to set the tone for his best performance of the season. In the sixth the Bears lead off man reached on catchers interference, followed by a single and a passed ball, putting runners at second and third with only one out. Carter recovered to record a strikeout and a pop out to end the threat.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Tide scored an insurance run on an infield single by Riley Colburn, who advanced to second on a throwing error. Avant sacrifice bunted Colburn to third, and White was intentionally walked again to get to Hughston. Once again, Hughston foiled the strategy by lining an RBI single to give 'Bama their final margin of victory.
Carter continued with his outstanding night, stranding a runner at third with one out in the eighth by striking out the final two batters of the inning. Carter came out and got two quick outs in the ninth, before allowing a walk and an infield single,
putting the tying runs on base. The Tennessee native then coaxed a fly ball to Salem in center to end the game.
*Salem was 2-4 with an RBI and run scored
*Hughston was 2-4 with three runs driven in
*Haynie was 2-4 with an RBI and a run scored
*Wilhite was 1-3 with a triple and run scored
The Tide closes out the regular season in a three game series against the defending National Champion, Vanderbilt Commodores on Thursday-Friday and Saturday of this week. The Thursday and Friday games are scheduled for a 7:00 p.m., while Saturday's game three will be played at 3:30 p.m. The first two games will be available on SEC Network Plus, while Saturday's will be televised on the SEC Network. The Commodores are 37-16 overall and 18-9 in the SEC.