Alabama hosted Arkansas Pine Bluff in a rare four game series on Thursday through Sunday this week at the Joe. Mother Nature didn't cooperate on Saturday, with an all day rain causing a washout and a doubleheader on Sunday. The Tide won on Thursday and Friday, lost the first game on Sunday, then bounced back with a big win in the final game of the series. The Tide improved to 9-6 on the year, while the Golden Lines fell to 3-11 on the season.
Game One: Won 6-5
With frontline starter Nick Eicholtz being held out of this weekend’s rotation, freshman lefthander Garret Rukes drew the starting assignment on Thursday. Rukes acquitted himself nicely in 4.2 innings of work on 63 pitches. Rukes allowed four hits and two runs with no walks and four strikeouts.
The Tide jumped ahead early on a two run home run off the bat of designated hitter Cody Henry, the first of his ‘Bama career, in the second inning. Hunter Alexander tacked another run on in the third when his sacrifice fly scored Gene Wood, who had walked. Rukes ran into trouble in the fifth allowing three hits before being relieved by Garrett Suchey with two outs. Suchey allowed a single that scored two before inducing a ground ball to end the inning.
The game remained 3-2 until the seventh when the Tide added three runs on a sacrifice fly from Kyle Kaufman, an RBI single from Hunter Alexander and a run scoring double by Chandler Taylor. Suchey cruised along until there were two outs in the ninth. Down to their last out the Lions drew a walk, added a single before calling on 6’5” 250 pound pinch hitter Joshua Williams who proceeded to drive a fast ball into the right field plaza to cut the lead to 6-5. After a single followed, Davis Vainer was called out of the bullpen and nailed down the victory with a strikeout to end the game.
Suchey was the winning pitcher with his four innings of work, allowing five hits and three runs with six strikeouts. Vainer earned his second save of the year. Chandler Avant, Henry and Alexander all had two hits in the game, while Henry and Alexander both drove in two. The Tide was out-hit by a 9-8 margin, and also drew four walks against six strikeouts. ‘Bama pitchers walked only one while striking out 11 Lion hitters.
Game Two: Won 14-1
The Tide’s best starter this season has been Jake Walters, and he took the mound in game two. His teammates took the suspense out of the game early, pouncing on APB starter C.J. Lewington for five runs on four hits in the first. Chandler Avant led off the first with a double and scored on a Cobie Vance single. Hunter Alexander then tripled to score Vance. Chandler Taylor drew a walk before Tanner DeVinny launched a long home run into the plaza in right field.
‘Bama added two more in the second on a two run double by Vance, scoring Sam Finnerty and Logan Carey who had both singled. The Lions finally struck in the third on a two out single and run scoring triple to score their only run of the day. The Tide added four more in the fifth on only one hit, aided by three walks and a wild pitch that scored two runs. Alabama scored three more in the eighth on three bases loaded walks.
Walters was pulled after six stellar innings, allowing five hits with one walk and five strikeouts, and only one run allowed. Zac Rogers, Tyler McMurray and Tyler Adams all followed with one scoreless inning apiece. It was the first appearance of the season for the two Tyler’s. Walters improved his record to 3-1 on the season.
The Tide out-hit their visitors 13-7 and also drew 10 walks, while only striking out only three times. The Lions drew three walks, and ‘Bama pitchers struck out 11 batters. Vance was 3 for 4 with three runs driven in. Avant was 3 for 5 including two doubles. DeVinny drove in three runs, and Alexander drove in two.
Game Three: Lost 8-3
Brock Love received the start, and was sharp early on before running into major trouble in the fourth inning. The Tide looked like they were getting off to a fast start when Chandler Avant led off with a double, stole third, and scored on a ground ball RBI by Cobie Vance.
Love was cruising along in the third, getting the first two batters before giving up three straight hits to score a run. The damage could have been worse, but a Chandler Taylor to Vance to Kyle Kaufman throw nailed a runner at the plate for out number three. The fourth was Love’s undoing. After an infield single, Joshua Williams blasted his second home run of the weekend for a three to one lead. A walk and another home run, this one by Dontrell Brown, pushed the lead to 5-1. Sam Finnerty relieved and gave up two hits, both of which scored after some sloppy play by his defense. A strikeout got away from the catcher allowing the runner to reach first. A potential double play ball was dropped at second before a double play finally ended the inning after six had scored.
Lion starter Nathan Sawrie continued to carve up ‘Bama hitters barely facing over the minimum until the seventh. Vance doubled and scored on a Taylor single, in the only inning the Tide had at least two hits. Sawrie had only thrown 68 pitches after the seventh inning, and did not walk or strikeout a batter until the eighth inning. Sawrie entered the game having walked 14 batters in 16 innings. In the ninth, the Tide put a little rally together, drawing back to back walks, and scoring a run on an error. A groundout and two pop outs ended the game. Sawrie pitched a complete game. allowing five hits with three walks and two strikeouts and three runs.
Vance had two of the Tide’s five hits and drew a walk while also driving in a run. Taylor had the only other RBI for the team. Love was the losing pitcher.
Game Four: Won 12-2
Sophomore lefty Dylan Durate took his normal Sunday turn in the rotation and turned in his best performance in a Tide uniform, pitching a career high six innings, allowing only one hit and one walk and no runs. The Texas native tied his career high with eight strikeouts. Being the get away game, and not a conference game, a 10 run mercy rule after seven innings was in affect, and the game ended after seven.
Chandler Avant got the Tide started in the first scoring after singling, stealing second, advancing to third on the overthrow, and scoring on a Cobie Vance ground out. Cody Henry homered in the second, his second of the series for a 2-0 lead. ‘Bama tacked on three more in the third on a two run single by Tanner DeVinny and a sacrifice fly by Connor Short. DeVinny’s hit was the only one of the inning.
The Tide piled more on in the fifth. Chandler Taylor singled, and DeVinny lined his third home run of the season into the plaza in right. After Cody Henry doubled and advanced to third, he scored on another sac fly off the bat of Short.
In the sixth, coach Greg Goff started emptying the bench and got another blast into the right field plaza, this one a three run job off the bat of pinch hitter Alex Webb. Nathan Aldstadt relieved Durate in the seventh, and couldn't find the strike zone, walking the bases loaded on 14 pitches with out recording an out. Zac Rogers came in and recorded two strikeouts and a force out, after two had scored. In the bottom of the seventh, Gene Wood doubled and Hunter Alexander blasted a long double in the left center gap to score the run that ended the game with the Tide ahead 12-2.
Alexander was 3 for 4 with a double and RBI, DeVinny was 2-3 with his home run and four runs driven in. Henry was 2-2 with a walk and home run, while Logan Carey had a 2-2 day with two walks. Short drove in two with his two sacrifice flies. Durate recorded his first victory of the season.
- Chandler Avant 7-17, three doubles, five runs scored, three stolen bases
- Hunter Alexander 6-14, a triple, a double, five RBI, two walks, sac bunt, SF
- Cody Henry 6-13, two home runs, a double, three RBI, three runs
- Tanner DeVinny 3-7, two home runs, seven RBI, three runs
- Cobie Vance 5-14, two doubles, four runs, two RBI
- Logan Carey 4-11, two runs, two walks, stolen base
- Jake Walters 6 IP, 5 hits, 1 BB, 5 strikeouts
- Dylan Durate 6 IP, 1 hit, 1 BB, 8 strikeouts
What Does It Mean:
Taking three of four would normally be a cause for celebration, but losing to a 3-11 SWAC team even once hurts. The Lions entered the weekend with a .233 team batting average and a 7.11 team ERA and had only hit two home runs. A sweep was expected, and needed.
Another five game week at home. A Tuesday night game with Eastern Illinois (set for 6 p.m for now, may move due to NIT Game at 8:15), a Wednesday night game with Samford at 6, and the opening of the SEC season as Missouri comes to town. Friday’s game starts at 6:30, Saturday’s at 1 pm and Sunday’s at noon. All will be available on the SEC Network Plus, Watch ESPN App.
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