Alabama took their second consecutive SEC series win, beating Auburn two games to one this weekend in Tuscaloosa. All three games were decided by one run with the Tide taking a thrilling 8-7, 10 inning win on Thursday, losing 5-4 on Friday, and bouncing back with an exciting 10-9 win in the bottom of the ninth on Saturday. Alabama improved to 21-13 on the season and 7-8 in the SEC, while Auburn fell to 14-18 overall and a league worst 2-13 in conference play. The whole series was edge of your seat, back and forth, exciting baseball, as both teams traded blows throughout the weekend.
Game One: Won 8-7 in 10 innings
Tyler Ras continued as the opening game starter for the Tide and faced off with Auburn ace Cody Greenhill. Neither pitched over four innings. Auburn catcher Steven Williams homered in the top of the 2nd for an early 1-0 lead by the Tigers. The Tide answered with a two run Drew Williamson opposite field home run in the bottom half. TJ Reeves lined a two out single in front of Williamson to keep the inning going. Bama added two more in the third on four singles, with Sam Praytor and Owen Diodati driving in the runs. With two outs in the fourth Williams struck again with a two out triple. Cason Howell then blasted a ball off the top of the wall and center field and raced around for an inside the park home run. Howell was originally called safe and a review upheld the call, making the score 4-3.
Ras ran into trouble in the fifth when the first two batters singled and scored on a double by Judd Ward. William Freeman replaced Ras and shut the door, but not before Ward scored on a ground ball out. Zane Denton homered for the Tide in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game 6-6. Freeman lasted through the eighth inning, allowing only one run on a solo home run by Kason Howell in the top of the 8th.
In the bottom of the eighth Praytor blasted his 9th home run of the year over the fence in left to tie the game at 7-7. Landon Green replaced Freeman and was electric in the ninth and tenth innings, throwing 19 pitches, not allowing any hits or walks, and striking out the last four batters he faced. Green’s stuff was so nasty that the last four batters struck out on balls in the dirt and had to be thrown out at first base by Praytor. One of the ball bounced off the brick wall behind the plate and Praytor deftly snatched the ball on the rebound barehanded and just beat the runner with his throw to the bag.
The Tide brought the win home in the bottom of the 10th. Denton led off with a single, advanced to second on a single by Praytor, and raced home on a first pitch single from Diodati. Diodati was chased around the field by hit teammates and had his jersey ripped off in celebration.
'Eh, Alabama' https://t.co/KgBzodCvPz#RollTide pic.twitter.com/0WnFTryJW9— Alabama Baseball (@AlabamaBSB) April 16, 2021
Alabama finished 12-38, drew two walks, struck out 13 times, and left six runners on base. The Tigers were 11-42 with one walk, struck out eight times, and left seven on base. Each team committed one error. Praytor led the was with his 3-5 night with two driven in. Diodati had two hits and two runs driven in and Denton added two hits of his own.
Green was the winning pitcher and improved to 3-0 for the season. Carson Skipper fell to 0-2 with the loss.
Game Two: Lost 5-4
Dylan Smith started on the mound for the Tide in game two and got in early trouble with a one out first inning home run by Tyler Miller. The Tigers added two more in the second on a two run shot from Bryson Ware. The Tide got one back in the bottom of the second when TJ Reeves singled, advanced on two wild pitches, and scored on a single by Drew Williamson. In the top of the fifth Steven Williams homered off of Smith for a 3-1 lead by the Tigers.
The Tide answered with two runs in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI ground out from Zane Denton and an RBI single from Sam Praytor. Smith recovered to keep the Tide in the game, battling through seven innings, allowing seven hits and four runs while walking three and striking out eight. Connor Shamblin replaced Smith in the 8th and allowed one run. Brody Moore led off the inning with a double and was being bunted to third by Judd Ward. Shamblin fielded the bunt and tried to get the runner at third, but threw the ball away allowing an insurance run to score. A double play ended the inning, but the Tide entered the bottom of the ninth down 5-3.
Williamson led off the inning with a single but was forced out at second on a ground ball by Jackson Tate. Tate advanced to second on a wild pitch, then scored on ball hit by Peyton Wilson that Moore booted at second base. William Hamiter came to the plate as the winning run, but struck out to end the game.
The Tide finished 9-36 with one walk, one hit batter, 11 strikeouts, and left seven on base. Auburn finished 9-34, drew four walks, struck out 10 times, and stranded seven runners. The Tide had two errors and the Tigers one. Hamiter, Denton, and Williamson all had two hit games for the Bama. Smith fell to 0-4 on the season and winner Jake Owen improved to 1-2 with the win.
Game Three: Won 10-9
Game three brought the long awaited return of All American pitcher Connor Prielipp to the field. Prielipp had not pitched since opening day, February 19th. Coach Brad Bohannon wanted to get him some work to try and get ready for the stretch run of the season. The action turned out to be a 25 pitch first inning. Ryan Bliss walked to lead off the game, advanced to second on a ground out, and scored on a two out single from Steven Williams. The run was the first allowed in Prielipp’s college career.
The Tide came back in the bottom half to take the lead on a two run single from Owen Diodati. Bama missed a chance to add on when Diodati was thrown out at the plate after a double by Drew Williamson. Williamson’s blast just missed leaving the park in right center field.
Antoine Jean, who has also missed time recently, replaced Prielipp to start the second and really struggled. Three walks, two hits, and a sacrifice fly chased the lefty from the mound after recording only one out. Jacob McNairy replaced him and got two fly outs to limit the damage to four runs. Nevertheless the Tide trailed 5-2 headed to the bottom of the second. Bama tallied one in the second on an RBI ground out from Jim Jarvis (remember the name!) and tied things up at 5-5 in the third on a big two run home run by Diodati - his ninth of the season.
Auburn used a couple of two out hits to score three in the fourth, taking an 8-5 lead. Landon Green replaced McNairy and tossed 2.1 scoreless innings, before being replaced by Chase Lee with two outs in the 7th. The Tide used two long balls in the seventh to tie the game. Peyton Wilson led off with a single and came on in front of a massive home run to center field by William Hamiter. With one out Sam Praytor lifted his 10th home run of the year over the fence in left to tie the game up.
The Tigers retook the lead in the top of the eighth when the scored the first run of the year allowed by Lee. Ryan Bliss walked to start the inning and scored in front of a Tyler Moore double. A sac bunt pushed Moore to third with one out. The Tide choose to intentionally walk Williams to set up a possible double play. The Tigers tried a squeeze bunt to score the run but Lee bounced on it and tagged Miller out before he could score. A strikeout ended the threat.
Once again the Tide answered scoring in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game. Jarvis led off with a single, advanced on a perfect sac bunt by Caden Rose, and raced home on a double by Peyton Wilson. Lee allowed two singles in the top of the ninth, but got a nifty double play turned by Jarvis and Wilson to end the inning, setting up the Tide for the walk off try in the bottom half.
Williamson led off with his fourth hit of the game and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jackson Tate. The light hitting Jarvis strode to the plate and shocked the Tigers by blasting a drive over Judd Ward’s head in left field for a game winning double and the 10-9 Tide victory.
WALK OFF WINNER! #RollTide pic.twitter.com/ApN2s8UC8o— Alabama Athletics (@UA_Athletics) April 18, 2021
Alabama finished 16-38 with three walks, one hit batter, nine strikeouts and left nine on base. Auburn was 14-36 with seven walks, nine strikeouts, and 10 runners left on base. Williamson had four hits, Wilson three, and Diodati, Tate, and Jarvis had two each. Diodati drove in four, while Jarvis and Hamiter drove in two apiece. Lee improved to 5-0 with the win while Mason Barnett fell to 2-2 with the loss.
Who Did What ?
- Drew Williamson 7-12, 3 RBI, home run, double, two runs, stolen base
- Sam Praytor 5-12, 2 home runs, 4 RBI, 3 runs. BB, HBP
- Zane Denton 5-12, home run, 3 runs, 2 BB, 2 RBI
- Owen Diodati 4-14, home run, 6 RBI, run, game winning hit
- William Hamiter 4-14, home run, 2 RBI, 2 runs
- Peyton Wilson 4-15, 2 runs, 2 RBI, double
- Jim Jarvis 3-10, 4 runs. double, BB, HBP, SB, game winning hit
- Landon Green W (3-0), 2 games, 4.1 IP, 3 HI, 1 BB, 6 K, 0 Runs
- Chase Lee W (5-0) 2.2 IP, 3 H, 1 run, 2BB, 3 K
This was one of the more exciting series in Tuscaloosa in the last several seasons. Three one run games between huge rivals, all with beautiful weather. The Tide struck out too much- 33 times-and walked too little- six times- and left 21 runners on base over the series. However the ability to continually answer when falling behind was a welcome site. The hits came at opportune times more times than not over the weekend. The Tide finished 31-113 for a .274 average in the series. After a rough start to conference play at 2-7 the Tide has now won five of their last six and is now 7-8 in the SEC which puts them close to the middle of the pack. There are more wins out there to be had over the next couple of series. Bama has Kentucky, Missouri, Vanderbilt, LSU, and Mississippi State left on their conference slate.
The Tide takes the field again on Tuesday night when they host North Alabama at 6 p.m. on a game that can be seen on SEC Network Plus. The weekend will take the team to the Blue Grass State to play Kentucky on Friday at 5:30, Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at 12 noon. All will be on SEC Network Plus.
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch it!