The Alabama Crimson Tide baseball team kept their season alive with an opening round victory over South Carolina in the SEC Tournament. Bama won 9-3 to advance to the double elimination portion of the event, while the Gamecocks were sent home. The Tide improved to 30-22 while USCe fell to 33-21. The ‘Cocks entered the game ranked in the top 20 in the nation. The game was the Tide’s first in Hoover since the 2016 season.
The Tide rode strong pitching from Tyler Ras and Brock Guffey, and a six run third inning, to take the victory. Bama sent nine men to the plate in the third. The rally started when Caden Rose reached base after one out, on a strikeout that got past the catcher. Hoover native Peyton Wilson then laced a double to right, putting runners on 2nd and 3rd. William Hamiter drew a walk to load the bases. Sam Praytor popped up for out two, but Owen Diodati came through with a two out, two run single to put the Tide on the board. Jackson Tate followed Diodati with his fifth home run of the year and a 6-0 lead.
The Tide added two runs in the fourth when Hamiter doubled Rose home, and Praytor scored Wilson with a sacrifice fly to center field. USC answered with two runs in the fourth after a walk to Wes Clarke and a home run from Braylen Wimmer. Alabama scored their last run of the game in the sixth. Rose walked, advanced on Wilson’s second double of the game, and scored on another sac fly from Praytor. The ball was hit to shallow right field but coach Brad Bohannon sent the speedy Rose home anyway and the freshman scored with a nifty slide around the catchers tag attempt. Ras allowed a solo home run to Clarke in the 6th, his conference leading 22nd of the year.
Brock Guffey relieved Ras in the 7th, only his second appearance in the last several weeks. The Hoover left hander had struggled with a shoulder issue since the first few weeks of the season. Guffey had to alter his pitching motion and now is throwing with more of a side arm slot. After being counted on as a stalwart in the bullpen this season Guffey had only been able to pitch 10 innings all year entering todays game. In a every impressive performance he saved the other pen members arms by pitching three shutout innings to close out the game and earn his second save of the year.
Wilson led the offense by going 3-5 with two doubles, two runs scored, and one run driven in. Tate drove in three and Diodati two. Rose scored three runs and reached base four times with two walks, a single, and an error. Ras improved to 7-4 allowing five hits and three runs in six innings with one walk and four strikeouts. Guffey allowed two hits with one walk and one strikeout in his three innings. As a team the Tide was 7-34 with six walks, 13 strikeouts, and six runners left on base. The Gamecocks finished 7-33 with two walks, five strikeouts, and five left on base.
A much needed win for the Tide while being in survive and advance mode. The pitching was outstanding, the hitting was opportunistic, and the defense was stellar. Rose made another highlight reel catch on a ball in center, Andrew Pinckney made a nice grab in right, and Tate ended the game with a diving, sliding catch in left. The snakebit Tide had to move players around again when shortstop Bryce Eblin came up sick on Tuesday morning. Hamiter moved from right field to play first, a position he had never played before, which put Pinckney in the lineup. Both first baseman on the roster, Drew Williamson and Davis Heller have been hurt in the last few weeks. Williamson with a broken hammet bone and Heller with a torn hamstring that will require surgery.
Alabama will take on 4th ranked and 2nd seeded Tennessee on Wednesday’s second game. The Tide will send Dylan Smith to the mound to face the Vols. The contest will start approximately 45 minutes after game one ends. Today that was at 1:25 p.m. CT. The whole Tournament can be seen on the SEC Network.
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch it