Another weekend of close but no cigar for the Crimson Tide baseball team. After playing the number one and number three teams in the preceding two weeks, Bama “caught a break” and hosted the sixth ranked team this weekend. The Tide won the opener 7-4 but lost two heartbreakers on Saturday and Sunday by scores of 8-4 in 11 innings in game two and 9-8 on Sunday. For the second straight week Bama was missing two-thirds of their starting weekend rotation. Ace Conner Prileipp still has not pitched since opening weekend and Sunday starter Antoine Jean missed his second consecutive start. The Tide fought valiantly but just did not have enough bullets to pull off the series.
Game One Won 7-4
Tyler Ras continued to replace Prileipp as the opening game starter and gutted out five tough innings to grab his fourth victory of the season. The Tide had to battle back after falling behind by a score of 4-0 after just three innings.
The Vols got a solo home run run from Luc Lipcius in the second, and added three in the second on two singles and two doubles. Ras righted himself and finished the fifth ininng with 98 pitches thrown, allowing seven hits, four runs, one walk, and striking out three.
The Tide got back in the game in the fourth by scoring there times. Sam Praytor and William Hamiter led off the inning with back to back singles, followed by a walk to TJ Reeves. Drew Williamson was hit by a pitch to force in one run, a Jim Jarvis ground out scored the second and a single from Peyton Wilson plated the third tally. Hamiter was back in the line up after missing five games with an oblique injury, but was only able to DH and not play in the field.
Bama took the lead in the fifth on a two run home run from Praytor, following a walk to Zane Denton. Hamiter doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly from Williamson. William Freeman followed Ras and struck out two in his one inning of work. Landon Green had the seventh and eighth and was on fire, striking out three and allowing one walk during his stint. Williamson blasted his third home run of the year in the eighth, pushing the score to 7-4. Chase Lee returned from his week long absence and worked around a two out catchers interference call and infield dribbler in the ninth and struck out the side to secure the win. Lee earned his second save of the year.
The Tide finished 10-32 in the game with three walks, nine strikeouts, and left six runners on base. Tennessee was 8-34 on the night, drew three walks, struck out 11 times, and left seven runners on base. Praytor finished 3-4 with two driven in and two runs scored. Hamiter and Wilson both had two hit games. Williamson drove in three.
Game Two Lost 8-4 in 11 innings
The Tide sent Dylan Smith to the mound on Saturday hoping for a long outing to help save their depleted bullpen. Smith battled through four scoreless innings, but the Volunteers patient plate approach helped run his pitch total up. Smith had reached 92 pitches after four innings, allowing five hits while walking three and striking out five. The junior from Houston worked his way out of bases loaded jams in the third and the fourth with strikeouts to end each frame.
Bama took a 1-0 lead in the game when William Hamiter hit his first home run of his college career in the fourth. Jacob McNairy replaced Smith to start the fifth and threw two clean innings before running into trouble in the seventh. After a leadoff triple and a walk McNairy threw a pick off throw away at first base to allow a run to score. When he walked the next batter Brock Guffey was called on. Guffey walked two batters, gave up a sacrifice fly and a two run double before getting out of the innings. The Vols had a 4-1 lead after the top of the seventh. The Tide got one run in the bottom half after a walk and two errors on UT shortstop Logan Steenstra.
William Freeman tossed a scoreless eighth inning before Chase Lee was brought in to begin the ninth inning. Coach Brad Bohannon had visions of the Tide scoring in the bottom half for a walk off victory after Lee struck out two in the top half. However Bama went in order leading to extra innings. Lee struck out two more in the 10th, but the Tide could manage only a walk in the bottom.
Coming off an injury, and having pitched two nights in a row, Lee was replaced by freshman Grayson Hitt in the 11th. Hitt struggled mightily, allowing one hit with three walks in 1⁄3 inning of work. Another little used freshman, Eli Giles, came in and allowed on hit before notching the final two outs. After the carnage the Vols had scored four runs one two hits, three walks and a sacrifice fly. Down 8-4 in the bottom of the 11th Bama couldn't muster any offense and the game ended.
The Tide finished 9-42 with two walks, eight strikeouts, and left eight runners on base. UT was 10-40 with 12 walks, 12 strikeouts, and left 14 runners on base. Hamiter and Denton had two hits each to lead the offense. Hitt fell to 1-2 with the loss.
Game three lost 9-8
Connor Shamblin took Antoine Jean’s place in the rotation for the second straight week and coach Brad Bohannon was hoping for Shamblin to go deep into the game. The best laid plans of mice and men.... Shamblin walked the lead off man and gave up three hits, another walk, and three runs in the first inning. The Tide bounced back to tie things up in the bottom of the first, boyed by Peyton Wilson’s eight home run of the year, an oppo shot over the left field fence. TJ Reeves drove in two more with a two out double to make the score 3-3. Shamblin made it through the second inning with the help of a double play, but ran into trouble in the third. The junior hurler allowed two singles and two walks without retiring a batter before leaving with an apparent injury. Little used Hunter Ruth replaced him and got a double play and a strikeout to limit the damage to only two runs.
Behind 5-3, the Tide got a run back in the third after William Hamiter doubled, advanced on a balk, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Zane Denton. Tennessee used a double and three walks to add to their total in the fourth, but another double play limited the damage. Owen Diodati blasted a 96mph fast ball into the right field plaza in the bottom half for his seventh home run of the season, making the score 6-5 in the favor of the Vols.
Another seldom used freshman, Jake Eddington, was next in line. and he pitched two innings, allowing four hits and two runs with one walk and two strikeouts. Landon Green pitched a clean seventh inning with one strikeout for the Tide, and Eli Giles took over in the eighth. Giles managed to hold the damage to one run after three hits in the inning.
Birthday boy Sam Praytor hit a long two run home run in the bottom of the eighth to cut the lead to 9-7. Giles worked around a bases loaded ninth inning with two strikeouts to keep the Tide within striking distance. In the bottom of the ninth pinch hitter Will Patota reached on a Vol error and was replaced by pinch runner Caden Rose. After Wilson flew out deep to center Hamiter hit another double putting the tying runs in scoring position. Denton scored Rose with a ground out to short to cut the lead to 9-8 with two outs. Praytor walked before Drew Williamson ground out to end the game, and the Tide had another heartbreaking loss. Considering the circumstances Bama really had no business being in this game, much less having a real chance to extend or even win the game. The results haven’t always been satisfactory, but there in no quit in this group.
The Tide finished 11-37 with three walks, 10 strikeouts, and left six runners on base. UT was 15-34 with nine walks, 11 strikeouts, and 11 left on base. Shamblin fell to 2-2 with the loss. Hamiter had three hits, while Praytor and Williamson had two each. Reeves, Praytor, and Denton all drove two runs in. For the weekend Bama hit .270 with 30-111, drew only eight walks, struck out 27 times, and left 20 runners on base. Tennessee was 33-108 for a .305 average, had 24 walks, 34 strikeouts, and left 32 runners on base.
Coach Bohannon is trying to hold his team together with duck tape, bailing wire, and bondo at this point. Even with a 2-7 conference record his team has been so close to much better results. At this point he has to hope for healthy returns of Jean and Prielipp and quick development of some of his young arms. The SEC is a non forgiving league.
Who Did What?
William Hamiter 7-13, home run, four runs, three doubles, RBI, HBP
Sam Praytor 6-12, 2 home runs, four RBI, three runs, BB
Drew Williamson 4-12, home run, four RBI, double, Sac Fly, two runs, stolen base
Peyton Wilson 4-15, home run, two RBI, run
Chase Lee 2 appearances, save, 3 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 7 K
Landon Green 2 appearances, 3 IP 0 H, 1 BB, 4 K
Five games next week, Tuesday and Wednesday at home with ULM and a weekend series at Texas A&M. Tuesdays game is at 6 p.m., and Wednesdays at 3 p.m. both on the SEC Network Plus. The series in College Station has a 6:30 Friday first pitch, a 2 p.m. Saturday game time, and a wrap up Sunday at 1 p.m. All also available on the SEC Network Plus.
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch it