The Alabama Crimson Tide took a thrilling 3-2 victory over Tennessee in 11 innings on Wednesday afternoon. The Tide used strong pitching to hold the 4th ranked Vols to two unearned runs in the game. In four contest’s with UT this season the Tide has won two of them and lost one by one run and another in 11 innings. Bama improved to 31-22 and UT fell to 42-15 on the year.
Junior right hander Jacob McNairy returned from injury last weekend to start the regular season finale with Mississippi State and pitched two scoreless innings. Today he was called on to go deeper into the game, and responded with a strong effort. The Athens, Alabama native tossed 4.2 scoreless innings, allowing three hits with one walk and two strikeouts.
The Tide struck first in the second inning after Zane Denton singled, advanced to third on a double by Owen Diodati and scored on a ground out by Jackson Tate. In the fifth McNairy allowed a two out double and a walk and was replaced by William Freeman. Freeman got a fly out to end the threat and keep the Tide up 1-0. Alabama added a run in the top of the sixth without the benefit of a hit. William Hamiter led off being hit with a pitch, followed by a fly out by Sam Praytor. Denton, Diodati, and Tate drew back to back to back walks with the last one driving Hamiter in for a 2-0 lead.
Freeman had a scoreless sixth and should have had one in the seventh as well. However lead off man Luc Lipcius hit a hot shot that second baseman Peyton Wilson made a spectacular diving play on and got up to throw to first for the out. Hamiter, playing first base for the second game in a row, and only times ever, got his glove turned around and dropped the toss. Jordan Beck followed with a hopper to Denton and third, but the SEC All Defensive team selection misplayed the ball and suddenly two were on with no outs. After a pop out for out one Freeman was replaced by Chase Lee on the mound. Connor Pavolony hit a soft fly ball to right center that fell in for an RBI single. Liam Spence followed with an infield single that Lee slipped trying to field and the tying run scored.
In the bottom of the ninth the Vols actually stormed the field because they thought they had won the game. Christian Scott led off with a single and advanced to third on a single by Pavolony. A line out to Wilson at second caused confusion as the ball dropped and Wilson tossed to first for the out. Both runners were still on the base and the base coach actually pushed the batter back on to the bag (which is illegal, BTW). After conference the batter was called out and the runner was allowed to stay. The Tide elected to intentionally walk Max Ferguson to load the bases for a possible double play situation. Leading UT hitter Jake Rucker was at the plate and hit a ground ball up the middle. Lee leapt and slowed the ball down or it would have been a routine double play. Shortstop Jim Jarvis grabbed the deflection and shoveled it to Wilson at second. Wilson made the turn but the throw to first was late, and a runner crossed the plate. Second base umpire was waving his arms and called an automatic double play for runner’s interference. Ferguson went in with a high slide and his arm up, hitting Wilson around- if not in- the groin area. After much discussion and replay the call held and the Tide had new life. You make the call.
Alabama is going into extra innings after Tennessee had a interference on this play— Alabama Diehards (@AlabamaDieHards) May 26, 2021
Game tied 2-2 pic.twitter.com/fSnBZZyRXc
The 10th inning was uneventful for both teams, but Praytor led off the top of the 11th with a ground rule double to right center. Diodati lined a shot up the middle to plate Praytor with the go ahead run. Lee came back out in the 11th- and got a line out, a ground out, and a fly ball to end the game. The ironman out of the pen, called The Viper, threw 4.2 innings, allowed six hits, walked one, and struck out three over 85 pitches. With the win Lee improved to 7-0 on the season and has an ERA of 1.07.
The Tide finished 7-39 with three walks, five strikeouts, and seven left on base. The normally reliable defense committed two errors. Tennessee was 10-44 with two walks, six strikeouts, and 11 left on base. Diodati finished 2-4 with a double and the game winning RBI. Praytor was 2-5 with a double and a run, while Tate drove in the other two runs in the game.
Bama was economical with their hits, but again did just enough to win. The story of the tournament for the team so far has been the pitching. Over 20 innings the staff has allowed 17 hits, four walks, has struck out 11 and allowed only three earned runs and five runs total.
After beating 20th ranked South Carolina on Tuesday and 4th ranked Tennessee today the Tide will face the 13th ranked Florida Gators at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. The Tide will send Dylan Smith to the mound and the game can be seen on the SEC Network. Bama seems to have done enough to earn a regional bid at this point, but more wins will never hurt. Coach Brad Bohannon and his squad are playing loose and having fun. Their never give up attitude has helped carry them through a multitude of injuries this season, and they are still alive. The team did receive some bleak news today when it was learned that pitcher Connor Prielipp will under go Tommy John surgery on Thursday morning which will put his 2022 season in jeopardy. Prielipp, a preseason All American, and projected first pick in the 2022 MLB Draft was only able to pitch seven innings this season.
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