Ten times Alabama has boarded a bus and driven the 90 miles to Montgomery for the Capital City Classic game with Auburn. Nine times they have returned to Tuscaloosa with a loss, the only outlier in 2014 when the Tide eked out a 4-3 win. On Tuesday Auburn beat ‘Bama 5-2 to take a 9-1 lead in the series. The Classic does not count as a conference game.
Many on the Alabama side think the game is long past its expiration date and should be abandoned, or at least alternated between Birmingham and Montgomery. The event is a big deal with pep bands, cheerleaders, and mascots all involved. This year’s game boasted the largest crowd, 7,719, in Riverwalk Stadium History. The crowds are always loud and energetic, but because of being closer to the Plains seem to lean toward the Tigers.
Junior right hander Mason Duke got the start for the Tide, and entered the game with a 0.00 ERA in 15 innings pitched. Duke started off with a scoreless first inning, but after taking a line drive off his backside by the first batter in the second, was never the same. Josh Anthony hit a liner up the middle that struck Duke and caromed to first baseman Hunter Alexander for an out. Trainers came out to check on Duke, and he was allowed to stay in. However the next two batters doubled and singled, bringing DH Edouard Julien to the plate. Julien is a freshman from Canada, and entered the game with a 0.91 batting average in 11 at bats. The lefty swinger took a fast ball deep to the opposite field for a three run home run. Two batters later lead off man Will Holland slugged a long home run to left as well. Brock Guffey then came on to relieve Duke.
Jack Owen started on the mound for the Tigers and pitched four innings of one hit ball before being replaced by Welby Malczewski. In the sixth the Tide had a chance to cut into the lead when Chandler Taylor led off with a walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a Chandler Avant single. Walker McCleney walked, but two strikeouts and a ground out to first ended the inning.
Guffey, Sam Gardner, and Tyler Adams all had scoreless appearances for the Tide. In the seventh, Davis Vainer came on and was greeted by another long home run from Holland to push the lead to 5-1. ‘Bama had a two out rally in the top of the eighth after McCleney walked again, advanced on a Cody Henry single, and scored on a John Trousdale single. Jett Manning then entered the box as the tying run, but flied out to end the inning. Dylan Duarte pitched a scoreless eighth for Bama, but the Tide went down in the top of the ninth to end the game.
The 6th ranked Tigers scored all five runs off of their three homers, and received good pitching and stellar defense. Center fielder Jay Estes robbed the Tide of three hits with amazing defensive plays, including a long run into the deepest part of the park to take an extra base hit away from Taylor. Twice Cobie Vance was victimized by Estes on sliding catches that would have scored runs. First baseman Brendan Venter also took a hit away from Matt Malkin.
The Tide had six hits, drew five walks, had one hit batter, struck out nine times and stranded nine on base. The Tigers had 13 hits, no walks, three strikeouts, and stranded seven runners. None of the six ‘Bama pitchers threw more than 31 pitches in the game, lining up for all to be available at some point this weekend.
Who Did What ?
- Chandler Avant 2-4, RBI
- Walker McCleney 0-0, 2 BB, HBP, Run
- John Trousdale 1-2, RBI
- Chandler Taylor 0-2, 2 BB
Play the sixth ranked team on Tuesday, welcome the seventh ranked team to town on Friday. Kentucky comes to Tuscaloosa for three games, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m, and Sunday at 1 p.m. All times are Central, and all games will be available on SEC Network Plus, Watch ESPN App.
Follow @rogerpatmyers on Twitter for live updates