The Alabama baseball team began the 2020 season this weekend by hosting the Northeastern Huskies in a three game series. The Tide swept the series by scores of 10-0, 8-0, and 6-3. Bama rode the fantastic start of freshman OF/DH Owen Diodati to claim all the games in the series. Diodati was 7-11 with three home runs, a triple, a double, eight runs driven in, two walks, six runs scored, and a stolen base. The big Canadian is a welcome addition to the Tides lineup.
Game One, Friday: Won 10-0
Freshman left handed pitcher, Connor Prielipp, out of Tomah Wisconsin, became the first opening day freshman starter since Taylor Guilbeau in 2012. Prielipp is highly regarded and didn't disappoint in his debut. Starting on a pitch count, the lanky lefty pitched four sterling innings, allowing only one hit, walking four, and striking out seven.
The Tide got on board in the first when T.J. Reeves was hit by a pitch and scored on a double by Tyler Gentry. Bama added to the lead in the second when Diodati walked, stole second, and eventually scored on a passed ball by the Huskies. The Tide put the game away in the third after Drew Williamson led off with a triple, then scored on a single by freshman Zane Denton. Then the Canadian Cannon, Diodati, unleashed a bomb into the right field plaza for his first collegiate home run, and a 5-0 lead.
Prielipp was relieved by sophomore Tyler Ras in the fifth, and put together three innings of one hit ball, with two walks, and two strikeouts, and obviously no runs. The Tide piled on four more tallies in the bottom of the seventh, with Brett Auerbach, Tyler Gentry, Jim Jarvis, and Peyton Wilson all driving in runs. Redshirt freshman Landon Green followed Ras on the mound and pitched out of a bases loaded jam, after allowing two hits and one walk, by getting a strikeout and fly out to end the frame. In the bottom of the eighth Diodati went big fly again, with a tank job into the plaza. Sophmore Dylan Smith finished the game off with a perfect ninth innings with one strikeout. The Tide finished with 12 hits, walked nine times, struck out 10 times, and left 13 runners on base. Diodati led the way with his three hits, Williamson was the only other batter with multiple hits, finishing with two. NE finished with four hits, seven walks, struck out 11 times, and left seven on base. Prielipp was the winning pitcher.
Noted Alabama baseball historian, Barry Allen, hasn’t been able to find any Tide player in history to have a two home run game in their first contest.
Game Two, Saturday: Won 8-0
Sophomore right hander Connor Shamblin was the choice to start game two on the mound by Bohannon. The Tennessee native showed great growth from his freshman year, and pitched five outstanding innings. Shamblin pitched five innings, allowing three hits, one walk, two hit batters, and five strikeouts.
Just like Friday night the Tide struck in the bottom of the first, this time with three runs. Brett Auerbach led off with a double, and scored on a single by Gentry. Sam Praytor followed with a single, and both players scored on a double by freshman third baseman Zane Denton. Bama added two more runs in the second, aided by a hit batter and two Husky errors. Gentry drove in his second run of the game with a single.
Senior Casey Cobb took over on the mound in the top of the sixth, and threw two perfect innings with three strikeouts. The Tide added two more runs to their total in the seventh when Diodati doubled to drive in Gentry and Williamson. Garret Rukes pitched the eighth and only allowed a harmless single. Bama finished the scoring in the bottom of the eighth when Praytor singled in Jarvis, who had walked. Dylan Smith threw a perfect ninth inning with one strikeout to end the game. Gentry had three hits, and Praytor added two. Shamblin was the winning pitcher.
The Tide finished with eight hits, four walks, six strikeouts, and nine runners stranded. The Huskies once again had four hits, walked only once, struck out eight times, and left five runners on base.
Game Three, Sunday: Won 6-3
The Tide called on another freshman left hander, Antoine Jean, to start game three. Jean is from Montreal, Quebec. For the first time all weekend Bama faced adversity, giving up the first runs of the weekend in the top of the first. Jean walked the lead off batter, then allowed a single. The third batter hit a perfect double play ball back to the mound, but Jean threw the ball away allowing the Huskies to score their first run of the series. A ground out and another single scored two more runs, and the Tide was facing a 3-0 deficit before they ever batted.
Bama answered in the bottom of the first. Auerbach, starting at his third position of the weekend (CF, C, 3B) led off with a ringing triple to center field. Reeves singled through the right side to plate the run. Reeves later scored on a single by Diodati. Auerbach led off the second inning by hitting an opposite field home run in to the right field plaza.
Jean settled in, setting down eight straight batters, before allowing two singles in the fourth. The Tide took the lead in the third when Williamson singled, stole second base, then scored in front of Diodati’s long blast into the right field plaza. Jean was relieved by sophomore Jacob McNairy, who threw three innings of one hit ball with four strikeouts. Bama closed out the scoring in the game in the fifth when Diodati crushed a triple and scored on a single by Kolby Robinson.
McNairy gave way to Chase Lee to start the eighth, and the sidewinder looked un-hittable, facing six batters and recording four strikeouts. The Tide finished with 12 hits, walked five times, struck out six times, and left 10 runners on base. The Huskies had five hits, walked once, struck out 10 times, and left three runners on base. Diodati’s with three hits and Auerbach with two were the only hitters with more than one safety, but eight of the nine batters had at least one hit on the night. Jean was the winning pitcher, and Lee earned the teams first save of the season.
Who Did What ?
- Owen Diodati, 7-10, three home runs, one double, one triple, six runs, eight runs driven in, two walks, stolen base. Whew! Sounds like SEC Player of the Week numbers to me.
- Tyler Gentry, 5-11, four RBI, two runs, HBP, stolen base
- Brett Auerbach, 4-11, home run, double, two RBI, two stolen bases. three runs, flawless defense at three different positions.
- Drew Williamson, 4-10, four walks, three runs, one triple, two stolen bases
- Sam Praytor, 4-14, run, stolen base, RBI
- Connor Prielipp, W, 4 IP, 1 H, 4 BB, 7 K
- Connor Shamblin, W, 5 IP 3 H, 1 BB, 5 K
- Jacob McNairy, H, 3 IP 1 H 0 BB 4 K
- Chase Lee, S, 2 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 4 K
Overall a fantastic start for the Tide, collecting 30 hits as a team, while only allowing 13, and scoring 24 runs and only allowing three. Defensively the Tide was outstanding, with the throwing error by Jean the only miscue of the weekend. There were two runners thrown out at the plate, but that is something that can be worked on. The team has a great combination of young players and veterans. On opening day there were four freshman in the staring lineup, and all made significant contributions. They were joined by two seniors, one junior, and three sophomores.
The pitching staff walked seven batters on Friday, but only walked two more the rest of the way, while striking out 29 hitters. The staff combined to only allow two earned runs in 27 innings.
The Tide is deep with versatile players and has a long pitching staff, with players that can start, long relieve, or close, depending on the situation. Auerbach is just a ball player. Tasked with playing three of the most demanding positions on the field, the senior from Mission Viejo, CA pulled it off without a hitch. There can not be enough said about the debut of Diodati, who should be in the running for SEC and National Player of the Week.
Diodati provided much of the power for the weekend, with three of the teams four long balls. However, Gentry, Reeves, and Praytor will soon join in, giving the Tide a quartet of players that can take the ball out of the yard at any time. Auerbach, Williamson, and Denton will also hit their share of long balls. Bohannon’s statement that he thinks this team can hit upwards of 70 home runs this season seems to be a correct one.
Five games this coming week. First up, a Tuesday home game with Troy set for 3 p.m. [RAINED OUT postponed until Tuesday, May 12th], and a Wednesday contest with Alabama State, at 2 p.m.
Following the midweek games, the team will board a plane for Las Vegas on Thursday for a three game series with UNLV. A certain RBR writer will also be making the journey for three baseball games, and a little boxing match at the MGM Grand. All of this week’s games will be available on the ESPN Plus App.
Roll Tide Roll
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