Coach Brad Bohannon sent his second Crimson Tide baseball team out this weekend to open the season with a three game series against Presbyterian College. The Tide team is sporting 22 new faces, and took the series by winning games one and three, while dropping game two. The series was scheduled for Friday, Saturday, Sunday, but with imminent bad weather for Sunday the series concluded with a doubleheader on Saturday.
Game One: Won 7-2
Senior right hander Sam Finnerty was the opening night starter for the second year in a row, and earned the victory in game one. The Tide started off fast with Jeaux Breaux lining a first-pitch double over the center fielder’s head in the bottom of the first inning. With two outs catcher Sam Praytor launched a long, ahem, Praytor Tater off the scoreboard in left field. ‘Bama added three runs in the second on an RBI single by shortstop Kolby Robinson, a bases loaded walk to Brett Auerbach, and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Morgan McCullough.
Robinson singled in another run in the bottom of the third to move the lead to 6-1. The Blue Hose finally reached Finnerty in the top of the fourth on a solo home run by Nick Guimbarda. The Tide answered back with a single run in the fourth when Tyler Gentry singled in Auerbach, who had singled and advanced on a single by Praytor. Presbyterian scored the last run of the game in the top of the fifth after two singles, a walk, and a sacrifice fly. Finnerty’s night was over after five innings and 74 pitches. The Birmingham native allowed eight hits, walked one, and struck out three while allowing two earned runs.
Robinson led the offense with a 3-4 night, two runs driven in and a run scored in his Bama debut. Breaux added three hits including a double, Praytor was 2-4 with his home run and two driven in, and Gentry was 2-3 with a hit by pitch and run driven in. Will Freeman relieved Finnerty and pitched three sharp innings, allowing two hits and striking out one. Freshman walk on Chase Lee finished up with a perfect ninth including two strikeouts.
The Tide finished with 13 hits, three walks, four strikeouts, two hit batters, and 10 runners left on base. PC had 10 hits, two walks, five strikeouts, and eight runners stranded.
Game Two: Lost 4-1
Freshman right handed pitcher Tyler Ras earned the start for game two. The New Jersey native was the 74th ranked player in the country coming out of high school last year. Praytor again got the Tide going early, leading off the second with his second towering home run of the season. Zacchaeus Rasberry drew the Hose even in the top of the third with a long home run off of Ras.
Junior Deacon Medders relieved Ras after 3.2 innings and was touched for the go ahead run in the fifth inning, an unearned run. The Tide turned to freshman Jacob McNair in the sixth and he allowed one earned run in two innings. Brock Love pitched the final two innings, struck out four and allowed one run (unearned.)
‘Bama threatened each inning from the fifth through the ninth, but could not get the big hit when needed. In the sixth with runners on first and third in 3-1 game, Keith Holcombe was picked off first for out two, followed by a sharp line out by Tyler Gentry. In the sixth Drew Williamson drew a leadoff walk but was erased on double play grounder off the bat of Gene Wood. Kolby Robinson then singled, followed by walks to Jeaux Breaux and Brett Auerbach. With the bases loaded and two outs Morgan McCullough flew out deep to center field to kill the rally. The Tide was able to get the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, but a ground out ended the game with the Tide on the wrong end of a 4-1 score.
Medders suffered the loss. Bama only had five hits, drew seven walks, struck out twice, and stranded 10 runners. Presbyterian collected 13 hits, drew five walks, struck out 11 times, and left 13 runners on base. The Tide only allowed two earned runs, as sloppy defense reared its ugly head after a cleanly played game one.
Praytor’s home run was the only highlight offensively, as the five hits were spread among five players.
Game Three: Won 9-4
For the first time since 2012 two freshman started games for the Tide on opening weekend. Memphis native Connor Shamblin was the starter for ‘Bama in game three. Shamblin struck out the first batter he faced, blowing his 94 mph fastball by the Blue Hose lead off man. PC used a single and two out double to take the early lead.
The Tide bounced back in the bottom of the first when Jeaux Breaux led off with a double and scored when the first baseman threw away a ball hit by Morgan McCullough. Keith Holcombe then yanked a fastball into the right field plaza for two run homer. Presbyterian briefly tied the game in the top of the second on three singles and an error by the Tide. ‘Bama retook the lead for good in the bottom half when Drew Williamson walked and scored on a double off the wall by Tyler Ras. Ras came in to score on a double play ball, for a 5-3 advantage.
Shamblin went four innings, coming out after reaching his pitch count of 60 pitches. He allowed five hits, three runs (two earned) with one walk and five strikeouts in a promising first game. Garret Rukes pitched the fifth and sixth innings allowing two hits with two strikeouts. Bama added to the lead in the sixth when Kolby Robinson singled in two runs. The Tide got a single run in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by T.J. Reeves and another in the eighth when Robinson singled and eventually scored on a passed ball.
Casey Cobb pitched 1.2 innings, and Jeremy Randolph went the last 1.1 innings, striking out three and earning his first save. Randolph is a grad transfer who came to Tuscaloosa from Wright State University. Shamblin was awarded the win.
Robinson had a 3-4 night with two runs driven in. Holcombe was the only other player with multiple hits, going 2-4 with two runs driven in with his home run. The Tide finished with 11 hits, drew six walks, struck out seven times, and stranded eight runners. The Blue Hose had nine hits, walked twice, struck out 12 times, and stranded six runners on base.
Who Did What?
- Kolby Robinson 7-11, two runs, four RBI, two walks, two runs
- Jeaux Breaux 5-10, two doubles, two runs, three walks, one hit by pitch
- Keith Holcombe 3-8, home run, two RBI, run
- Sam Praytor 3-12, two home runs, three RBI, three runs, walk, hit by pitch
- Sam Finnerty Win, 5 IP, eight hits, two runs allowed
- Will Freeman 3 IP, two hits, no runs
- Connor Shambin Win, 4 IP, five strikeouts
- Jeremy Randolph Save, 1.1 IP, three strikeouts
With 22 new players Bohannon looked at the weekend as a way to try and see what his team would do once the lights came on, and as an opportunity to play a lot of players. Eleven pitchers and 16 position players saw action in the series. In game one all aspects were sharp, game two showed some warts, and game three was decent. With five games scheduled for next week, look for Bohannon to continue to mix and match to try and find his best combination of players.
The Tide hosts Jacksonville State
Tuesday at 3 p.m. and Alabama State at 3 p.m. on Wednesday. Next, they welcome Ball State for a three game series beginning Friday. All games will be available on SEC Network Plus.
The JSU game scheduled for Tuesday, Feb 19th has just been moved to Monday, Feb 18th at 4pm. Rain is suppose to be horrible on Tuesday. We don’t know anything about the Wed, Fri, Sat, or Sun as of yet.