The Alabama Crimson Tide took to the road to take on 18th-ranked Missouri this weekend, in a series planned for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. With raw, cold weather, and snow expected on Sunday, the teams agreed to a Friday afternoon game, and a doubleheader on Saturday. The Tide took the opener 2-1, lost game two 1-0, and secured the series win with a 5-1 victory in the late game Saturday. The games were played in temps ranging from the low 40’s to the low 30’s with strong, cold wind. With the two wins the Tide passed last year’s total of 19 and now sit 20-13 on the year, and 5-7 in the SEC. Last year’s Alabama team finished 19-34-1 with a 5-24-1 conference record. Brad Bohannon now has more career wins at Alabama than predecessor Greg Goff.
Game One: Bama Wins 2-1
Alabama sent their regular Friday night starter, Sam Finnerty, to the mound for the 1 p.m. first game of the series. Missouri countered with big lefty T.J Sikkema. Both pitchers were outstanding, but the Tide was able to touch Sikkema for two runs in the second, and hold on for the 2-1 win.
‘Bama used four hits in the second to score their only runs of the game. Hunter Alexander had a one out double, and scored on a two out single by Sam Praytor. Jett Manning kept the inning going with another single, and Kyle Kaufman, making a rare start, drove in Praytor with a single of his on.
Meanwhile Finnerty was finally touched for a run in the fourth, on three singles. Manning turned a sparkling double play to end the threat. The Tide only had as many as two base runners on base for one inning, the fifth, the rest of the way. Finnerty was outstanding in going seven full innings, scattering 10 hits with one walk and one strikeout. Closer Deacon Medders opened the eighth inning and gave up a single to start the inning, but quickly picked the runner off of first base. In the ninth, the Tigers opened with a single by Connor Brumfield, who was sacrificed to second by Cade Bormet. The tying run advanced to third on a dribbler in front of the plate that Praytor pounced on and threw the runner out at first. With the tying run 90 feet away Medders got a ground out to Manning at shortstop to end the game.
Finnerty improved his record to 4-1 while Medders earned with fifth save of the season. Chandler Avant had two hits while Praytor, Alexander, Manning, and Kaufman had one each. Kaufman had the game winning RBI. Manning was the defensive MVP, making several sparkling plays.
Game Two: Bama Loses 1-0
In an outstanding pitching duel, the Tide’s senior Jake Walters and Missouri junior Michael Plassmeyer took turns matching zeros. Both teams collected four hits each in the game and the Tigers used an unearned run in the eighth to win the game 1-0.
Walters was outstanding for the third straight start. Over his last 20 innings pitched, Walters has allowed only one earned run. Walters went 6.1 innings, allowing four hits, two walks, and a season high 12 strikeouts. Plassmeyer pitched a complete game four hit shut out with no walks and seven strikeouts.
The first two batters for the Tide reached base in the first, with Cobie Vance safe on an error by the short stop and Jeaux Breaux being hit by a pitch. However a flyout and two strikeouts ended the threat. Those were the only two ‘Bama base runners until the sixth when Vance singled and reached third with one out, but was left on the base paths.
Walters was mowing down the Tigers after a lead off single in the first, striking out the next eight batters he faced. Two-out singles in the third, the fifth, and the sixth were the only other hits he allowed. After a one-out walk in the seventh, Dylan Duarte came on in relief and got a strikeout and flyout to end the inning.
A two-out triple by Vance in the top of the eighth was wasted when a groundout ended the inning. The Tigers scored the only run of the game in the bottom half without the benefit of a hit, as Breaux lost a fly ball to center from Trey Harris in the sun and dropped it for a two base error to start the frame, followed by a perfect sac bunt by Kameron Misner to push Harris to third, where he scored on a sacrifice fly from Brett Bond. The Tide stranded Chandler Taylor at third in the ninth, evening the series up at one game each, setting up the rubber game.
Vance had two hits while Chandler Avant and Hunter Alexander had one apiece.
Game Three: Bama Wins 5-1
The Tommy John kid, Garret Rukes, took his third game turn in the rotation in the series finale. Missouri countered with big (6’7”) Bryce Montes de Oca, a huge man with a huge arm.
The Tide used a three spot in the third to take control of the game. Sam Praytor opened the inning with a walk and was sacrificed to second by Jett Manning. Kyle Kaufman also drew a walk before Cobie Vance singled to load the bases. Jeaux Breux was next with an RBI single. Chandler Avant then sent a fly ball to center for a sacrifice fly run driven in. Vance and Breaux exacted a double steal, and when the throw went into right field, Vance scored to push the lead to 3-0.
Rukes went 2.1 innings, 44 pitches, and allowed two hits with one walk and three strikeouts. Kyle Cameron replaced him and was outstanding for five innings. The Tigers were finally able to scratch a run across in the bottom of the sixth after Kameron Misner had a one out single and advanced to second on a ground out. With two outs Brett Bond lifted a shallow pop up to right field that was lost in the sun and fell in for a gift hit, and the Tigers only run of the game.
Cameron pitched into the eighth inning, and with one out was replaced by Brock Guffey. Guffey struck out the only batter he faced, and gave way to closer Deacon Medders. Medders ended the inning on a fly out to center field. The Tide added insurance in the top of the ninth, scoring twice. Keith Holcombe led off with a single and scored on a two out double by Kyle Kaufman. Vance singled in Kaufman for the 5-1 advantage. Medders gave up a lead off single in the ninth, but got a strikeout and a double play turned by Jett Manning to end the game, giving the Tide the series, two games to one.
Vance had four of the Tides 10 hits in the game and was joined by Kaufman with two safeties. Cameron was awarded the win and Medders earned his sixth save of the season.
Who Did What ?
- Cobie Vance, 6-13, Run, RBI, Stolen base
- Chandler Avant, 4-11, RBI , Sac Fly
- Kyle Kaufman, 3-10, two RBI, double, two RBI, two runs, game winning hit
- Deacon Medders, two saves, 3.1 IP, 4 hits, two strikeouts,
- Jake Walters, 6.1 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 12 K, 0 Runs
- Kyle Cameron, W, 5 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 Run
- Sam Finnerty, W, 7 IP, 10 H, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 Run
Pitching, Pitching, Pitching. The Tide staff faced down another hot offensive team, after shutting down the Kentucky Wildcats last weekend. The Tigers scored three runs over the three games, with only two of them being earned. MU had 23 hits in the series while the Tide had 21. What coach Brad Bohannon and pitching coach Jason Jackson have done with this staff is nothing short of miraculous. ‘Bama has the lowest ERA in SEC play with a 2.32 mark, while offensively only hitting .228. The team has lost five games by one run in league play. Finnerty and Walters have been lights out, and the bullpen is nothing short of amazing. Among the relief corp, Medders has a 0.37 ERA, Cameron 1.37, Duarte 0.53, Rukes 1.15 and Mason Duke 1.83. The fact that Bama is pitching toe to toe with ranked SEC teams is promising. If the offense can get rolling, the Tide can be dangerous.
Birmingham U comes to town on Tuesday for a 6 p.m. rematch. The Tide lost to the Blazers 5-2 on March 20th at Regions Park. A road trip to College Station to take on another ranked team, the Aggies of Texas A&M, follows on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Game one is at 8 p.m. and will be shown on ESPNU. Saturday is set for 6:30 p.m. and Sunday for 2 p.m. Both games will be available on SEC Network Plus, Watch ESPN App.
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch It!
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