The Crimson Tide baseball team picked up where they left off after last season’s 16-1 mark by sweeping McNeese State in a three game home series this weekend. The wins pushed coach Brad Bohannon's February record to 30-2 in his four years at The Capstone. Bama won 10-6 on Friday, won in walk off fashion 4-3 on Saturday, and finished the weekend with a 9-5 victory on Sunday. The Tide rode seven home runs and some clutch pitching to secure the victories.
Game One: Won 10-6
All American sophomore (2nd year freshman ?) Connor Preilipp took the start on the mound for the Tide in game one. He did not disappoint. Being early in the season and with cold weather the Bama pitchers are on a pretty strict pitch count. Prielipp’s number was 75 and he used 74 of them in completing five innings. The lefty from Wisconsin allowed four hits, with eight strikeouts with no walks and no runs allowed. Prielipp has still yet to surrender a run in his college career, spanning five outings and 26 innings pitched.
Prielipp actually ran into trouble in the top of the first allowing a one out double and a one out single, but got a strikeout and ground ball to end the threat. The Tide jumped out early with lead off man Peyton Wilson leading off the bottom of the first with a hustling double after a bloop hit to short center field. Wilson never slowed down and slide in hard to beat the throw. Sam Praytor followed with a bloop hit of his own, with a bloop to short right field. Drew Williamson singled Wilson in and Praytor scored on balk. After one the Tide held a 2-0 lead.
The Tide added two in the third when Owen Diodati was hit by pitch and Praytor launched the teams first long ball of the season off the scoreboard in left for a 4-0 lead. Wilson hit his first career home run in the fifth for seemingly comfortable 5-0 margin. Tyler Ras followed Prielipp on the mound and struggled in the sixth, allowing four hits and three runs to close the gap to 5-3.
Alabama added five runs in the bottom of the seventh on four walks and two hits, a two run double by Williamson and an RBI single by Zane Denton, and a Cowboy error. McNeese made things interesting by coming back with a three spot in the eighth off of Ras, but Brock Guffey took the ninth and allowed a lead off double but closed the game out with a ground ball and two strikeouts.
Wilson was 2-4 with a home run and double, three runs scored, a walk and an RBI. Williamson was 3-4 with three RBI, a double, and a run scored. Praytor was 2-4 with a home run, two RBI, a walk and three runs scored. Prielipp got the victory. The Tide finished with nine hits, drew five walks, struck out eight times, and left five runners on base. The Cowboys had 12 hits, walked twice, struck out 12 times and left seven on base.
Game Two: Won 4-3 on walk off home run
Another second year left handed pitcher drew the start in game two, Canada’s own Antoine Jean. Jean struggled with his command, loading the bases in the top of the first on a single, a hit batter, and a walk, while going to a full count on three of the five batters but got out of the jam by striking out the side.
McNeese pitcher Ty Abraham was baffling the Tide, keeping them off balance through his four innings on the mound. Abraham allowed harmless first and second innings singles and walked two batters before being replaced. Jean lasted three innings, allowing only one hit, but walking four and striking out four while throwing 69 pitches. Seven of the 15 batters he faced had full counts during their at bats, but he never allowed a run.
Jacob McNairy pitched a clean fourth for the Tide with two strikeouts before allowing one run in the fifth and two in the sixth. Landon Green took over in the seventh and was lights out over his two frames, setting the Cowboys down six up and six down with four strikeouts while consistently throwing 93-94 miles per hour. His stuff was electric. The Tide finally dented the scoreboard in the bottom of the seventh when William Hamiter reached on a walk and advanced on a passed ball. Zane Denton lined a single to score Hamiter and give the Tide some life. In the bottom of the eighth Peyton Wilson led off with a single and jogged home ahead of Owen Diodati’s blast into the right field plaza that tied the game at three each, setting up ninth inning fireworks.
Tide closer Chase Lee started the ninth inning and got a quick ground out before hitting the next batter. McNeese’s Clayton Rasbeary, a throne in the Tides side all weekend, singled to put the go ahead runner on third base. Tre’ Obregon lifted a fly ball to right, where Andrew Pinckney, who had replaced Diodati in the top of the inning, drew a bead on it and made the catch- then unleashed a rocket to the plate that Praytor grabbed and tagged out Nate Fisbeck as he dove for the plate. McNeese asked for a review and the play was upheld, setting up the Tide for a walk off win. After one out Denton saw a 1-2 pitch to his liking and lifted into the right field plaza for a game winning, walk off home run and a 4-3 Bama win.
Wilson and Denton were both 3-4 on the day, and Diodati’s home run was the only other hit for the Tide in the game. The team finished with seven hits, three walks, six strikeouts and four runners left on base. The Cowboys had five hits, drew five walks, struck out 12 times, and left nine runners on base. Lee was the winning pitcher.
Game Three: Won 9-5
Third year right hander Dylan Smith was the Sunday starter for the Tide after shining during fall and spring camp. Smith allowed a run in the second after a lead off walk, a single, and a successful suicide squeeze bunt. The Tide answered in the bottom half when William Hamiter drove in Sam Praytor with a sacrifice fly.
The Tide got a home run from Drew Williamson and an RBI single from Caden Rose in the fourth to take the lead. Smith started the fifth by striking out the first two batters before deflecting a ball hit up the middle that was beat out for an infield hit. With a count of 72 pitches Smith was replaced by Grayson Hit, making his collegiate debut. Hits was greeted rudely, allowing a two doubles and single to the first three batters he faced, and three runs crossed the plate, and giving McNeese a 4-3 lead.
Zane Denton took care of that in the bottom of the fifth hitting a two run home run to left- giving him a home run from each side of the plate in the series. The Tide broke things wide open in the sixth after Davis Heller walked, Jim Jarvis singled, and Peyton Wilson walked, loading the bases for Owen Diodati. The big Canadian took an outside pitch to left-his opposite field-that carried out of the park for a grand slam home run.
Hitt loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth and walked in a run before being replaced by Brock Guffey. Guffey got the third out and allowed only a harmless single in the ninth to nail down the 9-5 win.
The Tide had seven hits, walked five times, struck out five times, and left five runners on base. The Cowboys had 10 hits, walked twice, struck out 11 times, and left seven on base. Denton was 3-4 with two runs scored and two driven in, Diodati drove in four and scored two runs. Hitt was awarded the victory and Guffey earned a save.
The Tide beat a good, scrappy team that will make noise in the Southland Conference. The veteran Cowboy team battled all weekend and never gave up. Hitting seven home runs in a three game series is eye opening, but the .253 batting average will need to be improved upon. The middle relief, other than Green, will need to be better, and Jean needs to have better command in his ensuing appearances. The defense was solid all weekend and Bohannon used several players as he typically does early in the season. One name missing for the weekend was outfielder T.J. Reeves, who has been suffering with a minor hamstring issue. Reeves should see some action next week.
Who Did What?
- Zane Denton: 7-12, 4 runs, two home runs, five RBI, 13 total bases
- Peyton Wilson: 5-11, five runs, home run, double, two walks, stolen base, started two games at second base and one in center field
- Owen Diodati: 3-10, two home runs (one grand slam), six RBI, four runs
- Drew Williamson: 4-12, home run, double, four RBI
- Connor Prielipp: Win, 5 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 8 K 0 runs
- Landon Green: 2 IP, 0 H 0 BB 4 K
- Chase Lee: Win 1 IP 1 H
- Brock Guffey: two games, 2.1 IP 2 H 0 BB 4 K 0 runs, Save
Two midweek games and a weekend series. The Tide travels for the first time this year to play Jacksonville State on Tuesday at 4 p.m. Home games follow on Wednesday with UT-Martin at 3 p.m. and a three game set with Wright State on Friday (3 p.m), Saturday (2 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.). The four home games can be found on the SEC Network Plus while the Jacksonville game will be radio only.
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch it
You can follow @rogerpatmyers on Twitter with live, inning by inning updates