In what was almost a must win series the Alabama Crimson Tide came up a little short this weekend, losing to LSU on Friday and Sunday, sandwiched around a victory on Saturday. The Tide lost a heartbreaker 2-1 on Friday night, bounced back to win 6-5 on Saturday and got blown out 13-5 on Sunday. Bama fell to 29-19 overall and 12-14 in the SEC while the Tigers improved to 32-19 overall and 11-16 in the conference. Alabama hosts third ranked Mississippi State this coming weekend and likely need to take the series to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.
Game One- Lost 2-1
Tyler Ras had a shaky start in the first inning, allowing three hits, but only one run, then recovered to pitch a gem. Tre’ Morgan led off with a double, advanced on an infield single by Dylan Crews and scored on a sacrifice fly by Gavin Dugas. Cade Doughty singled but was cut down trying to steal by Alabama catcher Sam Praytor to help end the inning.
Meanwhile the Tide was getting base runners in every inning but was unable to push them across the plate. In the second singles by Davis Heller and Jim Jarvis and an error in right field put runners on second and third with one out. A strikeout of Caden Rose and ground out by Peyton Wilson squelched the scoring opportunity. In the fourth three straight one out singles by Heller, Jarvis, and Rose loaded the bases with one out. Wilson drilled a line drive to right field that Mitchell Sanford grabbed on the run and made a perfect throw to the plate to nail Heller trying to score and end the inning. Bama again had three hits in the fifth but failed to tally. William Hamiter led off with a single, followed by a Zane Denton safety. On a ball in the dirt Hamiter tried to advance to third and was thrown out by the Tigers. Praytor followed with a single up the middle that would have scored Hamiter from second. A strikeout to Owen Diodati and fly out by TJ Reeves left both runners stranded.
In the fifth Heller reached on another single and advanced on a sacrifice bunt from Jarvis. Ground outs to the pitcher by Rose and Wilson left him on second base. Ras was still pitching in the bottom of the seventh, and retired the first two batters. Cade Beloso drew a walk to end the right handers night. William Freeman was brought in to relieve and allowed an RBI double to Drew Bianco to push the score to 2-0.
The Tide finally got on the board in the eighth with a two out score. With two outs Heller delivered his fourth single of the game and raced home on a long triple by Jarvis. Rose was hit by a pitch to extend the inning but a Wilson ground out ended the inning. Bama tried to tie the game in the ninth but could only manage a walk to Praytor and the game ended with the 2-1 LSU victory.
Bama finished 13-36, drew two walks, had two hit batters, struck out nine times, and left 13 big runners on base. LSU had only five hits on a 5-26 night with six walks, eight strikeouts, and seven left on base.
Heller was filling in for Drew Williamson who had hand surgery earlier in the week, and took advantage with his 4-4 performance. Jarvis finished 3-3 with a triple and RBI while Hamiter had two singles and Praytor had a double and single. Ras fell to 6-3 after going 6.2 innings and allowing only four hits with three walks and a career high eight strikeouts on 100 pitches.
With 17 base runners the Tide had to feel this game was there for the taking, but the big hit never came in a frustrating loss.
Game Two- Won 6-5
Dylan Smith started on the mound for the Tide, pitted against AJ Labas for LSU. After a scoreless top of the first by Alabama the Tigers had back to back home runs from Dylan Crews and Gavin Dugas to take a quick 2-0 lead. The Tide answered with a line drive home run by Sam Praytor in the second to cut the margin to 2-1. Two walks and a Crews single in the second pushed the score to 3-1 LSU.
The Tide tied things up in the third. Bryce Eblin and Peyton Wilson both had one out singles and scored on RBI singles by Zane Denton and Praytor. Bama took the lead in the fourth when Jackson Tate led off with a single, stole second, and scored on a double by Caden Rose. Eblin then doubled in Rose for the 5-3 lead. Denton led off the fifth with his ninth home run of the season for the Tides final run of the game.
Smith lasted through the fourth and was pulled after 87 pitches and allowing three runs on six hits with three walks and four strikeouts. Connor Shamblin entered in the fifth and was fantastic up through the eighth inning before running into trouble in the ninth. With one out Tre’ Morgan singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Crews struck out for the second out but Dugas than lifted a long home run to left to cut the lead to 6-5. Closer Chase Lee entered and got the final out on a long fly ball to left to secure the victory.
For the second game in a row the Tide had 13 hits, finishing 13-38, had no walks, struck out six times, and stranded six runners. LSU was 9-35 with five walks, seven strikeouts, and stranded eight runners. Praytor finished 3-4 with his 13th home run and two RBI. Eblin was 3-4 with a double and run driven in, Denton was 2-5 with two driven in and Rose with 2-4 with a double and RBI. Shamblin got the win improving to 4-2 after his 4.2 innings pitched, allowing three hits and two runs. Lee earned his seventh save.
Game Three- Lost 13-5
Connor Prielipp made just his third appearance of the year in starting game three for the Tide. The sophomore pre season All American pitched opening day for Bama pitching five innings. He didn’t pitch again until April 17 when he threw one inning versus Auburn. He once again was on a strict pitch count and left after just one inning and 22 pitches. After striking out the lead off batter Dylan Crews doubled followed by a second strikeout. Cade Doughty then hit what looked like a routine fly ball to left that the strong wind kept pushing and pushing and landed in the left field bleachers for a two run home run. The blast was the first long ball allowed by Prielipp and only the second and third runs in his short career.
Hunter Ruth replaced Prielipp in the second and was greeted by a home run from Drew Bianco to lead off. A single and two doubles plated two more and the Tigers had a 5-0 lead after two. The Tide looked to get back in the game in the third. Caden Rose had a one out double and scored on a double by Bryce Eblin. Peyton Wilson then drilled a ball that looked like extra bases but first baseman Tre’ Morgan made a great play to retired the speedster. Sam Praytor added an RBI single to cut the score to 5-2.
Ruth came back out for the third and walked the lead off man and was replaced by William Freeman with a 3-2 count on the next batter, Drew Bianco. Bianco also walked and both runners scored ahead of a line drive home run by Giovanni DiGiacomo to right field for a 8-2 lead. Jackson Tate homered in the fourth for the Tide, his third of the year. The Tigers added one run in the fifth and the score was then 9-3. Praytor doubled in the sixth and scored on a sacrifice fly by William Patota to cut into the lead.
The Tigers put the game away for good in the seventh with three runs on three hits, a walk, and a hit batter. Patota hit his first career home run for Bama in the eighth and LSU answered in the bottom half when DiGiacoma hit his second long ball of the game, and the Tigers had the 13-5 win.
The Tide finished 8-35, had two walks, had one hit batter, 10 strikeouts, and left five on base. LSU was 16-38 with five walks, one hit batter, seven strikeouts, and left nine on base. Praytor was 2-4 with a double, RBI, and run scored while Eblin was also 2-4 with a double, run, and RBI. Patota drove in two runs. Prielipp fell to 1-1 with his first career loss.
In the series the Tide finished 34-107 for a .317 average, walked only four times, had three hits batters, struck out 25 times, and left 24 runners on base. LSU finished 30-99 for .303, walked 16 times, had one hit batter, and also left 24 on base.
Who Did What ?
Sam Praytor: 7-11, home run (13), two runs, two walks, three RBI, double
Bryce Eblin: 5-8, two doubles, two runs, two RBI
Jim Jarvis: 4-9, triple, two walks, RBI, sac bunt
Zane Denton: 4-14, home run (9), two runs, two RBI
Caden Rose: 4-10, two doubles, two runs, RBI
Davis Heller: 4-5, run
With Williamson out after surgery, the two players that replaced him, Heller and Eblin combined to go 9-13 on the weekend. Heller played first base on Friday and Eblin was inserted at shortstop on Saturday and Sunday, pushing regular shortstop Jarvis to third and regular third baseman Denton to first. Eblin has the look of an impressive young player with a quick bat.
Final regular season series ahead of the SEC Tournament. Third ranked Mississippi State comes to Tuscaloosa for a Thursday, Friday, Saturday three game set. Game one and two are both at 6 p.m. and Saturdays final game is at 1 p.m. All can be seen on the SEC Network Plus.
The Tide really needs to take two games to reach 14 SEC wins. Since 1999 teams that win 14 game in conference play have made the NCAA field 61% of the time. The percentage falls to 36% with 13 wins, and 15% with 12 wins. A good performance in the SEC Tournament would also help built the resume.
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch It