After playing on the road at number one Arkansas last week the Crimson Tide baseball team got rewarded by hosting the third ranked Ole Miss Rebels this weekend. On top of that the Tide entered a gun fight with a knife, with several key players not available for the weekend. The series was to be a Thursday-Friday-Saturday affair, but weather conditions pushed it to a Friday double header followed by a single Saturday game. Bama was in great position to take game one, entering the ninth inning with a 3-1 lead, but an eight spot by the Rebels ruined that. Game two was a 2-0 loss, and Saturday’s finale was an 11-6 loss. The Tide has now lost six straight games and has a 15-9 overall record with 1-5 in conference. The Rebels/Black Bears/ Landsharks improved to 20-4 overall and 6-0 in conference.
Game One- lost 9-6
Tyler Ras continues to fill the game one slot with Connor Priliepp still out with his mysterious medical condition. Ras had another outstanding start and had the Tide in position to win the game, exiting after six innings with a 3-1 lead.
Rebel catcher Hayden Dunhurst put Ole Miss on board first with a leadoff home run in the top of the second inning. Ras loaded the bases after that, but avoided further damage with a ground out, pop out, and strikeout. The Tide used two solo home runs of their own to take the lead in the bottom of the third. The Canadian Cannon, Owen Diodati, hit a massive home run, and was followed by an opposite field bomb off the bat of Sam Praytor for a 2-1 lead. The long ball was the sixth of the year for Diodati and fifth for Praytor.
Ras completed six innings of 80 pitch ball allowing five hits, just the one run, one strikeout, and four walks. In the bottom of the sixth first baseman Drew Williamson blasted his second home run of the season to stretch the margin to 3-1 in favor of the Tide. Landon Green replaced Ras to start the seventh inning and had a successful two inning stint before the ninth inning came around. The ninth would normally belong to Tide closer Chase Lee who is known for finishing games off, but Lee was unable to take the mound.
Green hit ninth place hitter TJ McCants to lead off the top of the ninth, needing just three outs to nail down the victory. Lead off man Peyton Chatagnier, all 5’6” of him, then blasted his first home run of the season, and fourth hit of the game, over the fence in left to tie the game. Brock Guffey was called on to replace Green and clearly wasn't himself. Guffey has battled some arm issues the last few weeks. Ole Miss used a walk, two singles, and a double to chase the left hander from the game with out retiring a batter. Running out of options, coach Brad Bohannon called on little used freshman Eli Giles who immediately gave up another single and double to Rebel hitters before an out was finally recorded. Three straight ground outs finally ended the nightmare of a half inning with Bama on the short end of a 9-3 score. The Tide showed no quit, and battled to the end. Jackson Tate led off the ninth with a double, followed by a Caden Rose single. With one out Peyton Wilson blasted three run home run to cut the lead to 9-6. The next two batters struck out against closer Taylor Broadway who was called on after Wilson’s home run.
The Tide finished 10-37 in the game, drew only one walk, had one hit batter, struck out 15 times, and left six runners on base. Ole Miss was 12-38, drew six walks. struck out five times, and stranded 10 runners on base. Wilson finished 2-5 with his home run and three runs driven in. Praytor added a single to his home run and was 2-4 on the night. Diodati and Williamson’s only hits were their home runs, and Zane Denton had a 2-5 game. Guffey was tagged with the loss and is now 0-1 on the season. Typically when a team hits four home runs in a game they win. However three of the four Tides long balls of were the solo variety.
Game Two- Lost 2-0
Dylan “The Real Deal” Smith continued to dazzle with his pitching performance. Smith has been the Tide’s most consistent pitcher all season, but has no victories to show for it. Saturday’s second game was no different. Smith face off with Doug Nikhazy of the Rebels in another old fashioned pitchers duel. The Tide missed a great chance in the bottom of the second when Zane Denton and Drew Williamson both walked with one out. Andrew Pinckney hit a ball up the middle that had a chance to be an RBI single but the Rebel defense turned it into a double play to end the inning.
In the top of the fifth Ole Miss centerfielder TJ McCants turned on a two out 2-0 pitch from Smith and jerked it into the right field plaza for the only run the Rebels would need in the game. The Tide had a chance to tie things up in the sixth when Peyton Wilson singled and stole second and third with only one out. A strikeout and a pop out ended the threat.Smith pitched seven full innings, allowing only four hits, with no walks, and eight strikeouts. Williamson just missed a home run in the seventh with two outs, banging a double off the top of the right centerfield fence.
Jacob McNariy replaced Smith in the eighth and allowed a run on a walk, a sac bunt, and two singles. The two runs were too much for the Tide to recover from . Wilson did double with two outs in the eighth and advanced to third on a passed ball, but was again stranded. Owen Diodati singled to lead off the ninth, but two strikeouts and a line out ended the game with Bama losing 2-0.
The Tide finished 5-31 in the game with two walks, 12 strikeouts, and six runners left on base. Ole Miss was 6-31 with eight strikeouts, two walks, and five left on base. Wilson had three of Alabama’s five hits in the game, with two of them being doubles, and stole two bases.
Game Three- Lost 11-6
Normal Sunday starting pitcher Antoine Jean was unable to take the hill for game three and was replace by Connor Shamblin. Shamblin has mostly been a mid week starter for the Tide this year, and has had an outstanding season to this point. The Tide took an early lead when Andrew Pinckney led off the second with a double and later scored on a sacrifice fly from Jackson Tate.
Shamblin ran into trouble in the fifth, when the Rebels used a walk, a hit batter, a single, and a base clearing double to take a 4-1 lead. The Tide fought back in the bottom of the fifth, scoring twice. Tate led off with a single, followed by a Peyton Wilson single. Tate scored on a sacrifice fly from Owen Diodati. Zane Denton was robbed of a hit to slow the rally, but Sam Praytor lined an RBI single to cut the lead to 4-3 heading into the sixth.
With limited options coach Brad Bohannon called on Hunter Ruth as his next pitcher. Ruth had pitched only one inning all season prior to today. Ruth faced four batters, striking out one. but allowing two singles and a double to the other three. William Freeman followed and gave up a hit and a walk, but got the other two outs. The Rebels took a 7-3 lead into the bottom of the sixth, and added on in the seventh and two in the eighth to stretch the score to 10-3. TJ Reeves, just back from three weeks off after hand surgery, followed a Davis Heller single with a long home run off the scoreboard in left to cut the lead to 10-5. Alabama freshman shortstop Bryce Eblin was called on to pitch the ninth-replacing freshman Grayson Hitt, who had pitched two innings. Eblin did an admirable job for a non pitcher. After allowing a lead off double he hit the next man and gave up a single to the next. However he got a line drive double play and line drive to third to end the inning. The Indiana native was pumping it in at 92 miles per hour and did not look uncomfortable on the mound at all.
Alabama finished 10-35 with three walks, eight strikeouts, and seven left on base. The Rebels finished 13-36 with six walks, seven strikeouts, and left 10 on base. For the weekend the Tide hit 25-103 over the weekend for .242, struck out 35 times, walked only six times, and left 19 on base. OM hit .295 at 31-105, had 14 walks, struck out 20 times, and left 20 on base.
Who Did What?
*Peyton Wilson 9-14, two home runs, two doubles, four RBI, three stolen bases, three runs
*Sam Praytor 3-11, home run, two RBI, run, BB
*Jackson Tate 2-4, double, two runs, RBI, Sac Fly
*Tyler Ras ND 6 IP 5 Hits 1 run 4 walks 1 strikeout
*Dylan Smith L 7 IP 4 hits, 1 run, 0 BB, 8 strikeouts
Moral victories are not victories at all, but the Tide has just finished playing the top ranked, and third ranked teams in the country on back to back weekends and finished 1-5 in the six matchups, with real chances to have won at least two more games. With All American pitcher Connor Prielipp out since his opening day start back on February 19th, the pitching staff has been thrown into disarray. The starting pitching, Ras, Smith, Jean, Shamblin, and Freeman have been outstanding, as have Landon Green and Chase Lee out of the bullpen. With Prielipp, Lee, and Jean all out this weekend, as well as Dylan Ray being out for the season, the lack of arms catches up with the Tide around the 6th to 7th innings most games.
Offensively, TJ Reeves has missed 18 games with first a hamstring injury, then surgery on his hand. Second leading hitter William Hamiter has missed the last five games with an oblique injury. In addition Sam Praytor and Drew Williamson have been battling slumps and are hitting .217 and .218 respectively. Praytor has slugged five home runs, and driven in 18 and has caught all but two games so far. Williamson has driven in 12 and has two home runs, and has saved at least that many with his outstanding defense at first bast. The teams limited depth has taken a huge hit over the first few weeks of the season, and with a smaller roster than most every team in the league, they haven’t been able to fill the holes.
No mid week game this week, thankfully. Tennessee will visit Tuscaloosa for three games next weekend. The teams will play at 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and at 11 a.m. on Sunday. Saturday and Sunday the games will be on the SEC Network, and game one can be seen on the SEC Network Plus/Watch ESPN App.
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch it