The Alabama Crimson Tide baseball team welcomed the Harvard Crimson to Tuscaloosa this weekend, and while the eggheads may have had a good time, their results on the field were less than satisfactory. Bama won the games by scores of 15-3, 10-5, and 6-3. The Tide improved to 12-0 on the season while the Crimson fell to 0-3. Coming from the Northeast, and being an Ivy League school, Harvard had not played a game yet, and had no, or very little, work outside, and it showed at times. Harvard has a talented team that won the Ivy last year, and are favored to this season as well. The returned several talented players to their roster including last years conference player of the year in outfielder Jake Suddleson. The Crimson showed flashes of being a legitimate team, but mistakes and the Bama talent surplus ended up overwhelming them over the weekend.
Game One: Won 15-3
Having not playing any games, and not have much, if any, live action this winter, it almost wasn't fair for Harvard to have to face Alabama ace Connor Prielipp on their opening day. Prielipp has taken the college baseball world by storm in his first outings, and added to the lore on Friday. The lefty from Wisconsin had his longest stint of the year, six innings pitched, in which he allowed two hits, walked one, and struck out nine. For the season Prielipp has now logged 15 innings, allowed three hits, four walks, with 24 strikeouts, and no runs allowed.
It took the Tide until the third to take control of the game, scoring seven times in the frame to put the game out of reach. Bama used an RBI single from Tyler Gentry, a two run single from Drew Williamson, another two run safety from Peyton Wilson, and a RBI single from Kolby Robinson to plate seven runs. The Tide had six hits and drew three walks in the inning. Williamson singled in another run in the fourth to push the lead to 8-0.
Brett Auerbach lined one of his three hits on the day in the sixth and drove in two runs for a 10-0 cushion. Prielipp was replaced by Kyle Cameron in the 7th, and the Crimson finally pushed a run across with three hits. The Tide blew things wide open in the seventh with four more scored. Owen Diodati drove one run in on a bases loaded walk, one of his school record tying five on the day, and Jackson Tate doubled in two more. Harvard got a two run home run from Suddleson in the eighth to finish the scoring for the game.
Bama finished 19-41 at the plate, drew 14 walks, had two hit batters, struck out eight times, and stranded 18 runners on base. Harvard was 7-32 hitting, drew only one walk, struck out 12 times, and left four runners on base.
Kolby Robinson, Auerbach, and Wilson all had three hit games for the Tide. Wilson followed up a 4-4 night on Wednesday with a 3-6 game on Friday. T.J. Reeves, Williamson, Gentry, and Tate all had two hits games.
Game Two: Won 10-5
The Crimson Tide clinched the series on Saturday on a beautiful in front of a huge crowd with a wild 10-5 victory. Connor Shamblin received the start on the mound and pitched five innings while allowing six hits and three runs. Bama battled from behind from the fifth inning on, before getting a lot of help from Harvard and scoring eight runs in the eighth inning.
Tommy Seidl, a thorn in the Tide’s side all weekend. blasted a Shamblin offering for a three run home run in the top of the fifth inning to stake Harvard to the lead. Seidl finished 6-10 on the weekend. Crimson pitcher Owen Holt was keeping the Tide off stride and exited the game after five innings with 3-0 lead.
Bama finally scored in the sixth inning without benefit of a hit. Tyler Gentry was hit by a pitch, and Sam Praytor and Peyton Wilson drew walks to load the bases. A wild pitch by Harvard allowed Gentry to score to cut the lead to 3-1. Coach Brad Bohannon played a little small ball in the eighth to draw within one run. Kolby Robinson singled and was sacrificed over by Jim Jarvis. T.J. Reeves singled with two outs to make the score 3-2/
With the scored tied and one out in the top of the eighth Chase Lee relived Tyler Ras, who had replaced Shamblin. Lee inherited a runner at second with one out, and with the crowd going wild, struck out the next two hitters to hold the score at 3-2.
In the bottom of the eighth the madness ensued. The Tide plated eight runs on four hits, a walk, a hit batter, and four Harvard errors- all on one play. Sam Praytor started the inning with a single, and was sacrificed to second on a perfect bunt by Drew Williamson. When the Crimson misplayed the ball, both men were safe. Peyton Wilson laid down a bunt of his own, and with his blazing speed, beat it out for a hit to load the bases. Owen Diodati then delivered a pinch hit single to give the lead to Bama for the first time in the game, 4-3. Robinson then hit a ground ball that first baseman Logan Bravo fielded, and threw into left center field trying to catch the runner at second. The left fielder than over threw the third baseman, who was backed up by the pitcher, who then over threw the catcher, who was backed up by the second baseman, who then over threw the third baseman. When the dust had settled, three runs had scored on a ground ball to the third baseman. Brett Auerbach then blasted his third home run of the season over the left field fence to make the score 8-3. The Tide then used a walk, two hit batters, a wild pitch, and a Williamson sacrifice fly to add two more to the total.
The Crimson tacked on a couple of meaningless runs in the top of the ninth before Lee shut the door for the 10-5 victory. Bama finished 10-29, drew six walks, had five hit batters, struck out five times, and stranded eight runners on base. Harvard was 11-32, drew one walk, had one hits batter, struck out 12 times, and stranded four runners. Reeves and Robinson were the only multi hit players for the Tide with two hits each.
Sunday: Won 6-3
French-Canadian freshman Antoine Jean took the mound for the Tide in game three to face off with Enzo Stefanoni, in an all name matchup. The Tide appeared that they were going to have a walk in the park, but not taking advantage of early chances almost cost them. Bama stranded the bases loaded in the first, but was able to score three times in the second. A pair of freshmen teamed up for the first run when Myles Austin walked and scored on a double by Zane Denton. Brett Auerbach singled in Denton, and Auerbach raced home on a double by Tyler Gentry.
The Crimson took advanced of walk, a couple of stolen bases, and a two run single to close the gap to 3-2 in the top of third. Stefanoni and Chris McGrory kept the Tide at bay over the next four innings. Jacob McNairy relieved Jean after four innings, and gave up his first run of the season in the sixth on three singles and a fielders choice. Harvard attempted a double steal, but a strikeout and batters interference with the catcher disallowed a run, and the score was tied headed to the bottom of the sixth.
Brock Guffey took over on the mound for the Tide and struck out two and got a pop up in the top of the seventh. T.J. Reeves then absolutely obliterated a pitch over everything in left field for his first home run of the season, and the eventual winning run. Guffey got two more strikeouts and a weak ground out in the eighth, before the Tide used three walks, a hit batters, and an infield single to add two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth. Guffey came out in the ninth and threw absolute filth, striking out all three batters looking on 12 pitches. The Hoover sophomore left hander faced nine batters and struck out seven of them, retiring the other two on weak contact.
The Tide finished 9-33, had seven walks, three hits batters, struck out six times, and stranded 14 on base. The Crimson finished 8-33, drew only one walk, struck out 15 times, and left four runners on base. Auerbach was the only multi hit player for Bama with two, and Reeves drove in two big runs. Guffey was the winning pitcher with the best performance of his Bama career.
Who Were The Stars?
- Brett Auerbach, 6-13, three walks, four runs, four RBI, home run, stolen base
- Sam Praytor, 4-8, two walks, four hit by pitch, three runs
- T.J. Reeves, 5-11, three walks, three hit by pitch, three runs, three RBI, game winning HR
- Peyton Wilson, 4-10, four runs, two RBI, walk
- Kolby Robinson, 5-13, four runs, sac bunt, RBI
- Tyler Gentry, 3-10, two doubles, three RBI, three walks, hit by pitch
- Connor Prielipp, W (3-0), 6 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 9 K, 0 runs
- Brock Guffey, W (2-0), 3 IP 0 H 0BB 7 K
- Chase Lee, W (1-0) 1.2 IP, 4 K
Another series that the Tide should have won, and did. Harvard will make some noise later in the season, but Bama did what they needed to be done and ran their winning streak to 12 games to start the season. The start is the second best in the history of the storied program. Next in the crosshairs is the 15-0 start by the 1997 team.
Bohannon is getting production up and down the lineup, mixing and matching veterans and rookies from day to day. At least four freshman have started in each of the first 12 games. Brett Auerbach is among the most valuable players in college baseball. The senior from Mission Viejo, CA has started games at four different positions, 3B, C, CF, and second base, often playing up to three of them in any one game. Freshman Peyton Wilson seems to be modeled after Auerbach, and has started games at catcher and center field, and has played both in games multiple times this year.
Power is going to be a calling card for the Tide, with Gentry, Praytor, Reeves, and Diodati all capable of double digit long balls. Bohannon has suggested that his team should hit 60-70 long balls this season.
Connor Prielipp is just a special talent on the mound as a freshman. Most see him as a first round lock in two years when he becomes draft eligible. The bullpen is deep and versatile. The starting pitchers other than Prielipp need to take a step forward as conference play inches closer.
Overall this is the most talented Crimson Tide team from top to bottom in many years. They should be poised to take a major step forward, and will soon be making noise in the SEC and nationally again. Exciting prospects, so it is time to Catch Alabama Baseball Fever.
The homestand continues, though rain is in the forecast for the midweek games. Lipscomb (8-2) took two of three against Ohio State this past weekend.
March 3 (Tuesday) 3 P.M. South Alabama
March 4 (Wednesday) 3 P.M. North Alabama
March 6 (Friday) 6 P.M. Lipscomb
March 7 (Saturday) 2 P.M. Lipscomb
March 8 (Sunday) 11 A.M. Lipscomb
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