The Crimson Tide baseball team completed the season sweep of Birmingham University on Tuesday night with a 3-2 victory. The game was played at Regions Park, the home of the AA Birmingham Barons. Bama improved to 24-14 overall and is now 10-1 in midweek games (and versus instate teams), while the Blazers fell to 16-22 on the season.
The Tide used five pitchers to hold the Blazers to seven hits and two runs in the game. Freshman Tyler Ras got the start and pitched the first four innings. Ras allowed three hits, one run, with no walks, and one strikeout. Chase Lee had one scoreless inning, followed by two scoreless innings by the winning pitcher, Garret Rukes, who allowed one hit with one strikeout. Conner Shamblin had a perfect eighth inning with three strikeouts and Jeremy Randolph earned the save (his 6th), allowing one run in the ninth.
Bama scored first in the top of the fourth. Drew Williamson had a one out double, and advanced to third on a single by Brett Auerbach. A wild pitch brought Williamson across the plate for the games first run. Birmingham used a hit batters, a single, a sac bunt, and a ground out to tie the game in the bottom half of the frame.
The Tide retook the lead in the top of the fifth. Keith Holcombe hit a deep fly to left field that Colton Schultz dropped, allowing the speedy Holcombe to cruise into third base. T.J. Reeves then had a great at bat, doing what the Tide has struggled with all year. Reeves drove the run by just making contact and sending a ground ball to shortstop. The Tide missed a chance to add more, leaving the bases loaded.
Lee followed Ras on the mound and after giving up a bunt single, got a double play from Kolby Robinson and Morgan McCullough, and a fly out to end the fifth. After giving up a leadoff single in the sixth, Lee was pulled in favor of Rukes. Rukes faced six batters in his two innings, allowing a hit but getting another double play to end the sixth inning.
In the top of the ninth the Tide threatened to put the game out of reach, but could only manage one run despite having five base runners in the inning. Holcombe singled with one out and advanced on a single by Reeves. McCullough drew his third walk of the game to load the bases with still just one out. Holcombe was out at the plate on a comeback to the mound from Tyler Gentry. Williamson showed good patience and plate discipline to draw a bases loaded walk and earning a run driven in.
With a lead of 3-1 headed to the bottom of the ninth, coach Brad Bohannon called on his closer, grad transfer Jeremy Randolph. The Blazers hit four balls hard, but the Tide got a nice snare of a line drive by Robinson , a good running catch of a fly ball by Reeves, and a liner caught by Reeves to end the game. In between outs two and three Carter Pharis hit a line drive home run over the left field fence to cut the lead, and final margin, to 3-2.
Bama had seven hits, drew seven walks, had a hit batters, struck out nine times, and stranded (way to many) 12 runners on base. The Blazers also had seven hits, but drew no walks, had one hit batters, struck out five times, and left three runners on base.
A pair of freshman, Williamson and Reeves, both had two hits for the Tide, while Holcombe, Brett Auerbach, and Gentry had the other hits. Williamson was 2-3 with two walks, a run scored, and a run driven in. Reeves was 2-5 with a run and a run driven in. Rukes improved to 3-0 on the season with the win, while Randolph earned his sixth save of the year.
The Tide has clearly struggled (4-11) in SEC play, but has done a great job of winning the midweek games, while building a 10-1 record against all instate teams. There are two Wednesday games left, on April 24th at Jacksonville State, and on May 8th at Troy. Troy is the only team from the state to beat the Tide this season.
Bama welcomes the 6th ranked Vanderbilt Commodores to the Joe for a three game set this weekend. By some quirk of the schedule, the Tide and Dores are the only SEC teams playing a traditional Friday, Saturday, Sunday, series. All the other league teams will be playing on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, due to Easter being this Sunday. The games in Tuscaloosa are set for 6 p.m. on Friday, at 8 p.m. on Saturday, and at 1 p.m on Sunday. The Saturday game will be on the SEC Networks, while the other two will be available on the SEC Network Plus, Watch ESPN App.
Roll Tide, Bama Baseball Fever, Catch It
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