The Alabama Crimson Tide has struggled mightily the last three Tuesday nights, losing road games by a combined score of 27-3. The Tide found a cure for the Tuesday blues in the Alcorn State, who came to Tuscaloosa with a 4-18 record on the season. 'Bama won game won 8-5, and took a shortened 7 inning game by a score of 8-0.
The Tide used the games to get some playing time for some seldom used players, and to help some struggling players get back on track. Game One was much closer than anticipated, with 'Bama trailing 5-4 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, before rallying for four runs and the win. Prior to Game Two both coaches agreed to make the game a seven inning affair, which the Tide won easily 8-0.
Game One: Won 8-5
Brock Love was the starting pitcher for the Tide, and was followed by five other pitchers in the tougher than expected Game One. Love pitched three innings, allowing two hits and striking out four while not walking a batter in a good start for the freshman. 'Bama jumped out to an early lead in the first when leadoff batter Gene Wood was hit by a pitch and scored on a double by Chandler Avant. Chance Vincent singled to score Avant and an early 2-0 Tide lead.
Catcher Taylor Poe continued to make the most of his limited opportunities, lifting a solo home run to left in the fourth to give the Tide a 3-0 lead. Alcorn finally broke through in the fifth, scoring twice on three hits. 'Bama got one in the bottom of the fifth on a Sam Finnerty ground out to take a 4-2 lead. ASU bounced back in the sixth, tying the game on one hit, two hit batters, a walk and a wild pitch. The Braves took a 5-4 lead in the seventh after a walk, sac bunt and run scoring double.
The eighth inning was the winning inning for the men in Crimson, as they scored four times for a 8-5 lead. Poe came through once again, singling with one out on a two strike pitch. Wood drew a walk before Avant singled in the tying run. An error and a Cobie Vance single added two more runs in the inning.
Matt Foster was the winning pitcher, throwing a scoreless eighth inning, and Thomas Burrows claimed his sixth save of the year, working around a walk and error to strike out the side in the ninth. The Tide collected twelve hits, led by Avant with three, and two each for Poe, Chandler Taylor and Vance . The Tide walked four times and struck out five times. The Braves had seven hits, drew three walks and struck out 14 times on the game.
Game Two: Won 8-0 (Seven Innings)
Prior to Game Two, the coaches agreed to make the game a seven inning affair, allowing Alcorn State to make the return trip to Mississippi at a more reasonable hour. Fifth year senior Jake Hubbard got his first start of the season and pitched five innings, allowing only two hits, while walking three and striking out four. The outing was the longest of Hubbard's Alabama career.
The Tide jumped out early, scoring three in the first, as Chandler Avant led off with a single, and was followed by Georgie Salem's double. Cobie Vance blasted a double to score both runs, and then scored himself on a single by Chance Vincent. Vincent singled Salem in in the third after Salem singled and stole second base, for a 3-0 lead.
'Bama added two more in the fourth on singles by Chandler Taylor and Daniel Cucjen, a RBI double by Avant and a run scoring ground ball by Vance. The Tide added single runs in the fifth and sixth for the final margin of 8-0.
Zac Rogers followed Hubbard and tossed a scoreless frame, followed by Colton Freeman who struck out the side in the top of the seventh to end the game.
The Tide out hit the Braves 12-2, with Avant and Vincent having three knocks each, and Salem two. Vance led the way with three runs driven in. 'Bama pitchers allowed only two hits, with three walks and seven strikeouts. Tide hitters struck out three times and drew two walks. Alabama improved to 18-11 on the season, while Alcorn State fell to 4-20.
Two victories over a very bad team might not look like much, but as Gene Stallings used to say, "if you don't think these are big games, try losing one of them." In fact a loss to Alcorn would have been a disaster. Although Game One was an ugly win, at least the Tide was able to successfully bounce back and get the victory.
The games were big for several players trying to get back on track. Avant has been struggling, and a 6-9 day with two doubles and four runs may be just the thing to get him going again. Salem and Taylor both needed to see some balls fall for hits, and they did. Poe hasn't been called on often, but has been very instrumental in two of the last three Tide victories. Vance has been heating up over the past few games. Hubbard had only pitched one inning all year, but bided his time and gave the team five important innings. Freeman has only been called on four times, pitching four innings, and has only allowed one hit, with one walk and 10 strikeouts. After the game, coach Mitch Gaspard insinuated that the lefty was earning a chance to pitch more often. Burrows was expected to pitch an inning Tuesday, just not in a save situation, but was sharp in his second outing since returning from his oblique injury.
The Tide travels to Lexington this weekend to take on the 19th ranked Kentucky Wildcats. The Friday game is at 4:30 p.m. CT, Saturday's first pitch is at noon CT and Sunday's game three is set for 11:00 a.m. CT. All games will be available to view on SEC Network Plus on Watch ESPN App.
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