Needing one, two, or three victories to help keep their fading NCAA Tournament chances alive, the Crimson Tide came away with none, being swept by 6th ranked Mississippi State in Tuscaloosa this weekend. A lack of offensive production doomed the Tide and they fell to 29-22 overall and 12-17 in league play, stumbling down the stretch with seven losses in their last eight games. State enters the post season at 40-13 and finished their SEC slate with a 20-10 mark.
Game One- Lost 4-2
Junior right hander Tyler Ras gave the Tide a chance on Thursday night with six shut out innings and a 1-0 lead entering the 7th inning. However the Bulldogs rallied for four in the seventh for all the runs they would need.
After five innings Ras had allowed only two singles, and one runner reaching base by error. Bama left fielder Jackson Tate gave him a 1-0 lead with a solo, opposite field, home run in the bottom of the fifth. MSU led off the sixth with singles by Rowdey Jordan and Tanner Allen, but Ras retired the next three batters on fly balls to keep the game 1-0 in the Tides favor.
Ras came back out for the 7th and got into trouble with a lead off walk followed by a double to tie the game. Tanner Leggett laid down a sac bunt and reached when the Tide tried to get the runner at third, but failed. An infield single by Lane Forsythe put the Dogs ahead and a two run double by Tanner Allen chased Ras. William Freeman got the last two outs of the inning, but the Tide trailed 4-1 entering the bottom of the seventh.
Zane Denton walked for Bama to lead off the inning, and advanced with a two out single by Tate. Bryce Eblin, who had entered the game after an injury to Davis Heller, singled Denton in to cut the lead to 4-2. Freeman threw scoreless innings in the 8th and 9th to give the Tide a chance. Bama had two base runners on with one out in the eighth after a Caden Rose walk and William Hamiter single. Sam Praytor sent a fly deep to centerfield that looked like it had a chance to give the Tide a lead, but it was hauled in to end the inning. State closer Landon Sims struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth to send the Dogs to the victory.
Alabama finished 6-31 in the game with 2 walks, 15 strikeouts, and five left on base. The Bulldogs were 7-34 with two walks, seven strikeouts, and seven left on base. Tate was the only Tide player with multi hits, finishing 2-4 with his 4th home run. Eblin had the other RBI. Ras fell to 6-4 on the season while Christian McLeod improved to 5-3 for the Dogs and Sims earned his 8th save.
Game Two- Lost 7-0
Dylan Smith pitched in possibly his last game in a Tide uniform on Friday night. The junior right hander has rocketed up the draft boards with his performance this season and the Tide would most likely have to advance in the SEC Tournament for him to take the hill in Crimson again.
Smith didn't have his best game, but toughed out 7.2 innings for his team, allowing eight hits, with no walks, three strikeouts, and six runs. The three punch outs gave him a season total of 100, becoming the first Tide pitcher since Wade LeBlanc in 2006 to reach that mark. LeBlanc, who has spent 12 seasons in the major leagues, struck out 128 that year, his junior season.
Kamren James gave MSU the only run they would need with a solo home run in the second inning. Three doubles, a single, and a sacrifice fly plated three more for the Dogs in the third to put the game out of reach. State pitcher Will Bednar was mowing down the Tide, and allowed only three hits in eight innings with 11 strikeouts and only two walks. The last of those strikeouts, against William Hamiter in the 8th, caused quite the stir in the ball park. Home plate umpire Clint Fagan called strike three on a pitch that according to the Trackman data used was a minimum of 18 inches outside. Hamiter, a very stoic player, reacted in disbelief, but walked back to the dugout. Coach Brad Bohannon had a little more animated response and after a “friendly little chat “was tossed from the game which provoked Bohanan to slam down the batting helmet he had picked up, and well as firing his helmet against the dugout wall.
MSU added a run in the top of the ninth to stretch the lead to 7-0 and the Tide went down meekly in the 9th to end the game. The Tide was only 3-30 on the night with two walks, 13 strikeouts, and left five on base. The Bulldogs were 8-34 with three walks, three strikeouts. and six left on base. Peyton Wilson was 2-4 and Jackson Tate had a double in three at bats for the Tides only hits. Smith fell to 1-7 on the year. Brock Guffey did make his return to the mound after missing the last couple of months and contributed a scoreless inning for the Tide.
Game Three- Lost 7-3
Jacob McNairy made his return to the Tide after missing several weeks and started the game on the mound as an “opener”. McNairy was sharp and left after two innings with Bama ahead 3-0. Peyton Wilson led off the Alabama first with a walk and advanced on a single by William Hamiter. Zane Denton singled with one out to score the pair and a 2-0 lead. The Tide added to the lead in the second after walks to Bryce Eblin and Jim Jarvis were followed by a Caden Rose sacrifice bunt and a run scoring ground out by Wilson.
Connor Shamblin took over for the Tide in the third on the mound and had two scoreless innings before running into trouble in the top of the fifth. A lead off single, followed by a double put Dogs on second and third with no outs. A ground ball to Jim Jarvis at third then caused some excitement as the base runner heading to third ran into him, causing him to be called out and leaving runners on first and third with one out. MSU coach Chris Lemonis went into a lengthy protest and even came back out multiple times to argue the call, but somehow was allowed to remain in the game with out being thrown out. Lane Forsythe then hit a two run single, chasing Shamblin in favor of Landon Green. Green was not at his best and hit a batter, walked two, and had a ball booted at third base before being replaced by Chase Lee. After all the carnage the Bulldogs had taken a 4-3 lead going into the bottom of the fifth.
Shaky defense plagued the Tide in the sixth when an error at third and a couple of misplayed bunts helped MSU had three more runs and a 7-3 margin. Bama had a great opportunity in the 8th when the loaded the bases with two walks and a single by Hamiter, but pinch hitter Andrew Pinckney flied out to center field to end the rally. The Tide also got base runners on in the 9th on a single by Eblin and a walk to Jarvis, but couldn't push any runs across, ending the game on the wrong end of the 7-3 score.
The Tide finished 5-30 with six walks, two strikeouts. and seven left on base. The Dogs were 12-39 with two walks, seven strikeouts, and nine left on base. Hamiter was 2-4 and Denton drove in two. Green fell to 3-1 with the loss.
On the weekend Bama finished only 14-91 for a .153 batting average, drew 10 walks, struck out 30 times, and left 17 on base. State hit 27-107 for a .252 average, walked seven times, struck out 17 times, and left 22 runners on base.
Who Did What ?
Jackson Tate: 3-11, home run, double, RBI, run
Peyton Wilson: 3-11, two walks, run, RBI
William Hamiter: 3-12, run
Bryce Eblin: 2-7, two walks, run, RBI
William Freeman: Two games pitched, 3.2 innings. one hit, one walk, four strikeouts, no runs
Overview and whats next.
The Tide has stumbled to the finish line, 1-7 in their last eight games, not being able to overcome multiple injuries and playing highly ranked teams. Slumps have come at a bad time late in the season for key players. Freeman continues to fill many roles on the pitching staff and has had a very good season for the team. When Drew Williamson went out after hand surgery Eblin has been given playing time and has looked very good at the plate and in the field at short stop. Tate has earned more at bats late in the year and has made the most of them, with home runs in both of the last two series, but overall the team is lacking in quality depth and it has shown throughout the season, but particularly down the stretch.
Next up is a Tuesday game at the SEC Tournament in Hoover. The Tide is the 10th seed and will play the sixth seeded South Carolina Gamecocks in the days second game which will be at approximately 1:30 p.m. CT.
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch It