The Alabama Crimson Tide finished the home portion of their schedule on Tuesday night, beating Samford 4-2 to sweep the season series two-games-to-none. The Tide improved to 30-23 overall, 13-1 in midweek games, and 23-3 in out of conference contests.
On April 9th, Bama used nine home runs to blast the Bulldogs 21-2. Tuesday’s contest was much closer, with the Tide using an eighth inning two-run shot by Joe Breaux home run to notch the 4-2 win.
Redshirt sophomore left-hander Garret Rukes drew the start for the Tide, pitching the first three innings. After two scoreless innings, the Bulldogs got solo home runs from Max Pinto and Sonny DiChiara in the third to take a 2-0 lead. Rukes allowed three hits, one walk, two runs, and had five strikeouts in his three innings of work.
As has been the case for most of the year, the Tide stranded runners in scoring position throughout the early innings of the game. Brett Auerbach and Morgan McCullough both singled to open the first inning, but a double play and a strikeout ended that threat. Breaux singled and advanced to second with one out in the second, but was left there. The Dogs got their two runs in the third after blasting the two solo home runs. Bama loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth with two outs after three straight walks. A strikeout ended the inning with out a run scoring.
Junior Casey Cobb followed Rukes on the mound, and continued his late season dominate pitching with three scoreless innings, allowing only one hit. Freshman Jacob McNairy pitched a perfect seventh inning to hold the deficit at 2-0 entering the bottom of the seventh. Bama scored an unorthodox run in the inning, buoyed by sloppy play by the visitors. Kolby Robinson reached on an error, then advanced to second on a wild pitch. With two outs another wild pitch allowed the hustling Robinson to score all the way from second base, cutting the lead to 2-1.
Kyle Cameron began the eighth inning on the hill for the Tide, recording two outs and allowing one hit. A wild pitch advanced the runner, and with a 2-2 count on the batter, Cameron was replaced by Jeremy Randolph. Randolph recorded the strikeout on one pitch, setting up the heroics by Bama in the bottom of the eighth.
Tyler Gentry led off the inning by skiing a mile high pop up just behind the mound. The whole Samford infield, as well as their pitcher, gathered around and watch the ball fall from the sky, to the ground. Gentry never let up and was standing on second base when the ball landed. Drew Williamson lined a hard shot to center for single, and as the ball was hit so hard, Gentry was only able to reach third base. T.J. Reeves then tied the game with a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Gentry. Breaux then came to the plate for his final at bat in Sewell Thomas Stadium. The senior from Tomball, Texas took an 0-1 pitch deep over the visitors bullpen for a two run, game winning, home run.
Randolph disposed of the Bulldogs in the top of the ninth with two strikeouts and a ground out to third. Randolph upped his record to 3-2 with the win, while Connor Radcliff fell to 2-2 as the losing pitcher. The Tide had eight hits, drew three walks, struck out 11 times, and stranded seven runners on base. Samford had five hits, walked once, had one hit batter, struck out 12 times, and stranded five runners.
Breaux was the star of the game with his 2-3 night, a walk, two runs driven in, game winning home run, and another SportsCenter highlight play in centerfield. Auerbach added two singles with his 2-4 game. Reeves was 1-2 with a walk, sac fly, and a RBI.
The pitching tonight was outstanding, and the effort was outstanding. The Tide’s two hustle plays set the tone, and the clutch hitting brought the victory home. Bama is now three games over last years win total with 30, and have (at least) three games remaining.
The Tide will leave early Wednesday morning to go to Athens for a three-game series with the Georgia Bulldogs. With the SEC Tournament beginning next Tuesday, all the league teams will play series on Thursday-Friday-Saturday this week. The Tide is tied for the 12th and final spot in the league tournament entering this weekend. Bama and the Bulldogs will play at 6 p.m on Thursday and Friday, and at 1 p.m. on Saturday, The Friday game will be shown on the SEC Network, while the other two games will be available on the SEC Network Plus. The Tide probably needs at least one win to reach the tournament.
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