Coach Brad Bohannon played with his lineups in this mid-week series with North Alabama, giving several players their first starts. The UNA Lions from Florence are in their first year of Division One play, and, though game, can't match up with the Tide talent-wise.
‘Bama once again pitched very well, stretching their scoreless streak to 23 innings over three games. UNA plated a run in the fifth inning of game two to break the streak. The Tide won game one 8-0 and took game two 4-1.
Game One: Won 8-0
Junior Will Freeman got the starting nod, and the victory, pitching four innings while allowing only one hit, no walks, and scattering four strikeouts. The Tide scored six times in the third inning to put the game on ice. The red-hot Keith Holcombe led off with a double and scored in front of a towering home run off the bat of Tyler Gentry. The long ball tied Gentry for the team lead with two. Justin King, T.J. Reeves, and Gene Wood followed with singles. A balk scored Reeves and Brett Auerbach pushed a run across with a sacrifice fly.
Holcombe added a run driven in by being hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the fifth. Wood singled in his second run of the game in the sixth to close out the scoring. Kyle Cameron followed Freeman on the mound and pitched two innings, allowing no hits, with one walk and three strikeouts. Brock Guffey struck out two and allowed one hit in his one inning of work. Deacon Medders took the eighth inning and after walking the lead off man, struck out the next three batters. Jeremy Randolph pitched the ninth and allowed his first base runner of the season on a lead off walk. Like Medders before him, he then blew the next three batters away, fanning them all. Randolph has faced 11 batters in three appearances this year and has struck out nine, walked one, and retired one on a fly ball.
Holcombe finished 2-2 with a double, and RBI, a run scored, a walk, and was hit by a pitch. Wood was 2-3 with two runs driven in, two walks, and two runs scored. King was 2-2 in his second start of the year.
The Tide had 11 hits, drew eight walks, reached twice by way of HBP, struck out seven times, and stranded 12 runners on base. The Lions had two hits, drew three walks, struck out 15 times, and stranded seven runners.
Game Two: Won 4-1
Bohannon adjusted the lineup again in game two, giving shortstop Kolby Robinson his first day off of the year, inserting McCullough at short and playing John Trousdale at second base. Johnny Hawk received his first start of the year at catcher. Brock Love got the starting nod on the mound and pitched just the first inning, allowing one hit and striking out three. Five pitchers followed Love, allowing only a combined one run on six hits.
The Tide scored first with one run in the third. Three walks and one single by Trousdale led to the run. McCullough drove the score in with a bases loaded walk. North Alabama tied the game in the top of the fifth off of third Tide pitcher Garrett Rukes. Tyler Ras had relieved Rukes and stranded two runners on base.
Bama answered in the bottom of the fifth, scoring twice. Trousdale led off the inning with a single and advanced to third on a Jeaux Breaux double. Auerbach hit a deep fly to right for a sacrifice fly and run driven in. McCullough followed with a single to plate the other run in the frame.
Winning pitcher Chase Lee entered in the top of the sixth with two on and one out and got a ground ball and a strikeout to stymie the rally. McCullough walked to start the Bama seventh and advanced on a Holcombe single and a Walker McCleney sacrifice bunt. A walk to Gentry loaded the bases, and another free pass to Drew Williamson drove in the games final run. Lee pitched 1.2 innings with two strikeouts to gain the first victory of his Alabama career. Jacob McNairy pitched the final two innings to earn the first save of his career.
The Tide finished with seven hits, drew eight walks, struck out five times, and stranded 11 runners on base. The Lions collected seven hits, drew two walks, struck out 12 times, and left eight runners on base. Holcombe and Trousdale were both 2-4 on the night. Holcombe's average actually went down to .519 despite a two-hit game. McCullough drove in two runs with one hit and two walks.
Alabama did what they needed to do, defeating an inferior opponent in a mid week series. Over the last few years, troubles winning midweeks games has haunted the program, possibly costing UA a couple of NCAA Tournament bids. Bohannon has done a good job of immersing his new players into major college baseball. With several junior college and high school players new to the team, it is paramount that they all receive some game experience early so they will be ready when called upon throughout the season.
Keith Holcombe .519, Kolby Robinson .480, Morgan McCullough.345, Jeaux Breaux .310
Holcombe 14, Robinson 12, McCullough 10
McCullough, Breaux 8, Brett Auerbach 7
Holcombe 15, Tyler Gentry 8
Breaux 5, Holcombe 4
Holcombe, Gentry, Sam Praytor 2
Pitch of the Series
Here’s the last pitch, the movement on the ball is crazy. pic.twitter.com/MqeBIihirT— Griffin Smith (@GriffinTSmith) February 28, 2019
A trip to Mobile for a three-game series with South Alabama. Game one on Friday is set for 6:30 p.m., Saturday first pitch is 2 p.m., and game three will be Sunday at 1 p.m. The games can be seen on JagNationTV.com, at a charge.
Roll Tide, ‘Bama Baseball Fever, Catch It
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