The resilient Alabama baseball team took all three games from Missouri this week, all in comeback fashion. The Tide could be considered cardiac kids with their penchant for late inning heroics. After starting the SEC portion of their schedule with a 2-7 record the Tide has gone 9-3 since and sits at 11-10 in the SEC and 28-15 overall. This weekends sweep coupled with a sweep of Texas A&M in April marked the first time since the 2010 season that Bama had at least two series sweeps in conference play. In 2010 the Tide took down Mississippi State in three games on April 24, 25, and 26 and Tennessee on May 20, 21, and 22. Bama used two great games from the bullpen to win two games, and used smash mouth ball in game one and small ball in game three, both helping the team to wins.
Game One- Won 11-8
After being absolutely lights out in wining last Friday at Kentucky, Tyler Ras looked to continue that trend, striking out the first two batters he faced. However, things went south quickly after that. Four singles, a walk, and a double plated four runs before fans had settled into their seats. The Tide got two of the runs back in the bottom of the first on a lead off home run by Peyton Wilson, his 9th of the year-and 5th leading off a game- and Zane Denton’s 8th long ball of the year. Denton’s blast ended up in the vicinity of graduates taking pictures on the step of Coleman Coliseum.
Missouri got their fifth run in the second after Josh Holt doubled to lead off and came around to score on two ground outs. Three hits and a balk led to two more Tiger runs in the third and a 7-2 lead. Bama drew close in the bottom of the third when Denton walked and jogged home ahead of Sam Praytor’s 12th home run of the year over the scoreboard in left.
Ras allowed one more run in the fourth inning on a single and RBI double before his night ended, allowing 11 hits and eight runs in four innings. Will Freeman, Landon Green, and Chase Lee followed, combining to allow one hit over the last five innings with no walks and six strikeouts. The Tide cut into the lead with two runs in the fifth. Wilson and William Hamiter both walked to start the frame, and Denton single brought Wilson across the plate. Hamiter came home when Praytor grounded into a double play, making the score 8-6.
Drew Williamson led off the 6th with a double and scored on a single by Caden Rose. Jim Jarvis bunted for a single, and runners advanced on a throwing error to first. Wilson double in the third run of the inning and the 9-8 Bama lead. The Tide added insurance runs in the bottom of the 8th. Wilson singled to start the inning and Hamiter laid down a bunt and pitcher Jacob Kush threw the ball away, butting runners at 2nd and 3rd. Praytor singled Wilson home and pinch runner Andrew Pinckney scored on a ground out by Jackson Tate.
Lee followed Freeman and Green and notched his fifth save of the year with two strikeouts and a fly out to right. Pinckney made the grab just before crashing into the wall to end the game with Bama on top 11-8. Freeman earned the win, improving to 1-1.
The Tide was 13-35 with seven walks, 10 strikeouts, and nine left on base. The Tigers finished 12-39, drew one walk, struck out eight times, and left five on base. Wilson finished 3-4 with a double, home run, three runs scored, two driven in and a walk. Praytor finished 3-5 with three driven in, and a home run. Denton had two hits with a double and two RBI while Jarvis was 2-4 with a run scored. Joshua Day had three hits for the Tigers and Luke Mann had two doubles.
Game Two- Won 5-2
Tide ace Dylan Smith was still looking for his first victory of the season when Saturday’s game started. By the time it was over he had secured it. Missouri got a double from Brandt Balk and an RBI single from Tre Morris in the top of the second. Bama missed a golden opportunity in the second when Drew Williamson led off with a single and Jackson Tate doubled to put runners on second and third with no outs. Two strikeouts and a ground out ended the threat. A solo home run off the bat of William Hamiter tied things up for the Tide in the bottom of the third at one each.
Bama took the lead in the fourth after Williamson led off with a double, advanced on a Tate single, and scored on a ground out by Jim Jarvis. Tate singled in Hamiter in the fifth to add to the margin. Missouri got their second, and final run, in the 7th. Belk hit a one out double and then advanced to third on a ground out. With a 2-2 count to Luke Mann, Belk took off from third and stole home in a close play at the plate- it was reviewed but stood- making the scored 3-2 in Alabama’s favor. Smith pitched through the 8th and finished with a career high 11 strikeouts on a career high 110 pitches thrown.
The Tide added two runs in the bottom of the eighth to give themselves some breathing room. Williamson lined his third hit of the game to start and scored on a long triple by Jarvis. Caden Rose hit a sacrifice fly to right to bring Jarvis home and make the score 5-2. Landon Green took over from Smith and needed only 11 pitches to strikeout two and get a ground out to short to end the game. Smith improved to 1-5 going eight innings, allowing six hits, no walks, 11 strikeouts, and two runs. Green earned his second save. Bama finished 11-33 with three walks. five strikeouts. and eight left on base. MU was 6-31 with no walks, 13 strikeouts, and two left on base. Williamson and Tate both had three hits while Praytor and Hamiter had two each. Jarvis drove in two.
Game Three- Won 3-2
With seemingly half the pitching staff out with various injuries the Tide wasn't sure who would be available to pitch in game three. Connor Shamblin came back to start after being scratched from Tuesday nights game. The coaching staff knew they would have to piece meal the game, and ended up using five pitchers in the game. Smith going eight innings on Saturday made their job a lot easier.
The Tigers once again struck first in the first. Ty Wilmsmeyer led off with a single. Joshua Day hit the ball back to Shamblin on the mound for what looked like a sure double play, however Shamblin threw the ball into centerfield putting two runners on with no outs. A two out single from Tre Morris plated on run. Missouri used a lead off single, walk, sac bunt, and ground out to score their second run in the second for a 2-0 lead.
Missouri pitcher Zach Hise was carving the Tide up, allowing only a Zane Denton first inning single, and Caden Rose third inning bunt single through the first six innings. The Tide missed a golden opportunity in the third. Jim Jarvis laid down a sacrifice bunt and the heads up Rose sped all the way to third when no one was covering the bag. Needing only a ground ball or fly ball to score him Hise struck out Peyton Wilson, and then got a ground out to end the threat.
Hunter Ruth replaced Shamblin in the third and continued his late season surge of scoreless appearances, going three innings, allowing four hits, with no walks, and two strikeouts. Jake Eddington worked his way out of a jam in the sixth after allowing a single and walk to start the innings. A double play turned by Wilson and Jarvis and a strikeout shut the door. William Freeman took over on the mound in the seventh.
In the seventh the Tide had a great opportunity to take control of the game, but couldn't capitalize. Denton double to start the inning, followed by a Sam Praytor walk. Drew Williamson singled to bring in Denton, making the score 2-1. With still no outs Jackson Tate was called on to bunt the runners over, but popped up and catcher Mike Colette snagged the ball and then doubled Praytor off of second. Owen Diodati followed with a single but a fly out ended the inning.
Freeman pitched perfect 7th and 8th innings with three strikeouts. In the bottom of the eighth the Tide used small ball to push two runs across. Jarvis led off with a single, Wilson was called on to sacrifice him over, but the combination of his perfect bunt and speed had him reach base safely. William Hamiter then also layed down a perfect sacrifice bunt that third baseman Cameron Swanger fielded and tried to throw out Jarvis at third, but threw the ball away allowing Jarvis to tie the game. Denton hit a deep fly ball to center allowing Wilson to cross the plate with the go ahead run.
Closer Chase Lee needed only nine pitches in the 9th to earn his sixth save of the year, getting three fly outs to secure the victory. Freeman earned his second win of the weekend improving to 2-1. The Tide finished 7-28 with one walk, six strikeouts, and left five on base. The Tigers were 8-33 with two walks. nine strikeouts, and seven left on base. Denton was the only Tide player with multiple hits. going 2-3 with a run, RBI, and double. In the series Bama finished 31-96 for a .322 average with 11 walks, 21 strikeouts, and 22 left on base. The Tigers were 26-103 for .252, drew only three walks, struck out 31 times, and left 14 on base.
Who Did What?
*Sam Praytor 5-11, 2 BB, Home run, three RBI, run,
*Drew Williamson 5-10, three RBI, double, 3 runs, 3 walks
*Jim Jarvis 4-10, triple, three runs, two RBI
*Zane Denton 4-11, three runs, BB, Sac Fly, Home run, double, BB
*Peyton Wilson 4-13, four runs, two RBI, double, home run
*Will Freeman Two wins (2-1) 5 IP 1 hit, 0 walks. six strikeouts
*Chase Lee Two saves (6) 2 IP, 0 H BB 2 strikeouts
*Dylan Smith W (1-5) 8 IP 6 H 0 BB 11 K
*Bullpen in total 13 innings pitched, five hits allowed, one walk, 14 strikeouts, two wins, three saves.
A much needed sweep over an inferior opponent this weekend. To work their way back to a winning SEC record after starting 2-7 and with the pitching injuries almost insurmountable, the Tide has shown a lot of toughness. The bullpen has been much maligned at times this season, but five hits and one walk allowed in 13 innings this weekend was huge. Things are about to get tougher with road trips to Vanderbilt and LSU the next two weeks, followed by a season ending home series with Mississippi State. If the Tide can manage four wins out of those nine games that would put them at 15-15 in the SEC, a mark not reached since coach Mitch Gaspard’s last season in 2016. Bama is in position to reach the SEC Tournament for the first time since that season, and definitely is in the running for a spot in a NCAA Regional. There is little room for error with the lack of depth on the team, but they always play hard and have had a chance in almost every game this year.
The Tuesday game was that was scheduled in Hoover with Samford has been called off, so the next time the Tide takes the field it will be in Nashville to take on national powerhouse Vanderbilt. Game times are at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday, and 1 p.m. on Sunday. All will be available on SEC Network Plus.
Alabama Baseball Fever, catch it