The Crimson Tide won a thrilling game with South Alabama on Tuesday night, winning in walk off fashion as Owen Diodati hit a grand slam home run in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Jaguars by a score of 11-8. The grand slam was Diodati’s third of the season, and second in as many games.
William Freeman got the start on the mound for the Tide and went 4-plus innings, allowing six hits, two runs, with no walks and one strikeout. The Jaguars used a one out single and a two out double to take a 1-0 lead in the third. USA ninth place hitter, Kaleb DeLaTorre, touched Freeman for a lead off home run in the top of the fifth to bring Jacob McNairy out of the pen for the Tide.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Tide used a two out triple by Jim Jarvis and a run scoring double from Andrew Pinckney to cut the lead to 2-1. The Jags stretched it back out in the top of the sixth off of McNairy. After striking out the first two batters, McNairy allowed a single and double before DeLaTorre blasted an opposite field home run to push the lead to 5-1. DeLaTorre entered the game hitting .078 on the season with no home runs or RBI.
The Tide bats woke up in the bottom of the seventh when they sent 10 batters to the plate. Zane Denton started the frame with a single, followed by a Diodati double, putting runners on second and third. Jackson Tate was hit by a pitch to load things up. A passed ball allowed Denton to score and advance the other runners to second and third. Andrew Pinckney lined a single up the middle to score two, cutting the lead to 5-4. Peyton Wilson followed with a single and hot hitting William Hamiter doubled both men in to give the Tide a 6-5 lead.
With a one run lead after seven innings, Coach Brad Bohannon’s play was to use set up man Brock Guffey in the 8th and closer Chase Lee in the 9th to nail down the victory. Guffey had an uncharacteristic outing, walking two and allowing a single and double before being replaced by Lee with the bases loaded and only one out. Lee struck out Cameron Tissue for out number two before facing Ethan Wilson. Wilson is a big MLB draft prospect and he and Lee had an epic duel with Wilson fouling off six strike two pitches before ripping a two run double down the right field line. A fly out ended the inning. The Tide went down quietly in the bottom half of the 8th, and Lee made quick work of South in the top of the ninth, setting the stage for the dramatic finish.
Wilson led off the 9th with a single. After William Hamiter flew out it looked like Sam Praytor may have tied the game with a long drive to right. The ball hit the base of the wall and turned into a long single when Wilson waited to make sure the ball wasn't caught. Drew Williamson and Zane Denton both reached base on errors by second baseman Hunter Stokes, scoring one run to cut the score to 8-7. Stokes had made several sparkling plays through the first eight innings, but had trouble with two routine balls in the 9th. Diodati strolled to the plate, and after a swing and miss on the first pitch, launched a massive blast into the right field plaza for the exciting walk off victory.
The Tide finished with 13 hits, walked twice, had one hit batter, struck out 12 times, and left six on base. The Jags had 13 hits, walked twice, struck out seven times, and stranded seven runners. Wilson led the way with three hits and scored twice. Pinckney continued his sterling play and went 2-4 with a double and three runs driven in. Jarvis was 2-3 with a walk and a triple, while Diodati had a double to go with his grand slam, driving in four and scoring twice. Lee was the winning pitcher and now has a 3-0 record on the season.
The Tide looked dead in the water after six innings before waking up in the seventh. This team doesn't ever give up and will battle to the end. The come from behind win was the Tide’s fifth of the year. There is no time for rest as the Tide will play again tonight (Wednesday) when Jacksonville State comes to town for a rematch. Connor Shamblin will start for Bama. The game will be at 6 p.m. and can be seen on SEC Network Plus. Stetson will be in Tuscaloosa over the weekend for a three game series.
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