Win the games you are supposed to win. Seems simple, but not always easy to pull off. Alabama baseball has done a great job of that so far this season, and actually for the whole of Brad Bohannon’s tenure as head coach. The Tide improved to 39-3 in February under Bohannon on Wednesday by defeating Alabama State 9-2.
Bama started freshman Hagan Banks on the mound in the contest. The right handed Georgia product was making his Tide debut and pitched two sharp innings, walking one, striking out two and not allowing a hit or run. The Crimson Tide scored twice in the second to grab the lead that they never gave up. Jim Jarvis led the inning off with a walk and advanced to third on a double by freshman Will Hodo. A wild pitch scored Jarvis and Hodo raced home on a single by Caden Rose.
Hunter Ruth was the next pitcher up, the second of six on the day, and in two innings allowed one hit, hit a batter, struck out three, and didn't allow a run. The Tide doubled their lead in the bottom of the third. Owen Diodati singled to start the inning an following a strikeout Jarvis lifted the first home run of his Alabama career into the Right Field Plaza for a 4-0 lead. In the fourth Diodati doubled home William Hamiter who had singled to push the margin to 5-0. Brayden Gainey took the next turn on the mound and allowed three hits and one run during his two inning stint.
Bama added to the lead in the sixth. Will Portera, a redshirt freshman playing in his first game, doubled for his first career hit. Drew Williamson followed with a long blast into the plaza for his second home run of the year and a 7-1 lead. Freshman left-hander Connor Ball was next up on the hill and pitched a scoreless seventh allowing one hit but nothing else.
The Tide finished up their scoring in the bottom of the seventh with two more runs. Andrew Pinckney led off with a triple and scored on a wild pitch. Jarvis singled and advanced to third on a double by grad transfer Eric Foggo, in his first at bat at Alabama. Portera walked to load the bases and Jarvis scored on a pinch hit single by Davis Heller. Left hander Trace Moore pitched the eighth and allowed two hits and one unearned run. Sophomore Eli Giles pitched a scoreless ninth allowing a lead off single, but closed the game with a strikeout to finish the victory off.
The Tide offense finished 14-37 in the game with eight extra base hits, walked five times, had one hit batter, struck out five times and left nine men on base. The Hornets hit 8-34 with one walk, one hit batter, eight strikeouts, and left seven on base. Alabama committed the only error of the game.
Individually, Ruth was awarded the win to go to 1-0 on the year. Jarvis was 2-4 with three runs scored, two RBI and his home run. Diodati was 2-4 with a double, RBI, run scored, and a walk. Hodo was 2-2 with a walk, a double, and a run scored. Williamson was 1-3 with two driven in on his home run.
Games like today over an overmatched opponent aren't always ideal, but I feel like this was good for the team. Bohannon and staff were able to use 13 position players and six pitchers in the game as they get ready to head to Austin to take on the number one ranked Texas Longhorns this weekend. Reports say the Tide will stick with the same weekend rotation they used against Xavier: right hander Garrett McMillian on Friday, then lefty Antoine Jean, and lefty Grayson Hitt on Sunday. As of now, first pitch of the games have been moved to 4:30 p.m. Friday, 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, and 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. Potential bad weather in Austin may cause a change to the scheduled times. The Longhorn Network (if you can figure out how to find it) will televise the three games.
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