The Alabama Crimson Tide began their week away from home with a 9-3 victory over the Samford Bulldogs on Tuesday night. The Tide improved to 25-17 on the year while the Bulldogs fell to 18-20. Alabama will travel to Columbia, South Carolina on Wednesday and play the Gamecocks in a three game series on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
The story on Tuesday was freshman right hander Ben Hess who earned the victory while going a career high six innings. Hess improved to 2-1 on the year while allowing three hits, two walks, one run, and striking out three batters. The Tide used 15 hits, eight walks, and one hit batter to scored nine times.
Bama got on the board first in the top of the second inning. Red hot Dominic Tamez lined a one out single and advanced on a walk to Owen Diodati. Tommy Seidl then singled to score Tamez. With runners on first and second Bryce Eblin hit a ball to dead center field that hit about 12 inches short of going over the 390 sign in center. With the runners having to hold to see if the ball was caught the drive became an extremely long single to load the bases. Caden Rose then lined a single up the middle to score Diodati but Seidl was gunned down at the plate on a perfect throw from centerfielder Maurice Hampton.
The Tide added to the lead in the third. Zane Denton knocked a two out double to bring Tamez the plate. The junior from San Antonio hit a line drive home run over the left field fence to stake Bama to a 4-0 lead. Hess faced only nine batters through the first three innings with the aid of a first inning a double play and a runner thrown out by Seidl on a throw to second baseman Bryce Eblin who tossed to Drew Williamson at first to trap Blake Bortak off the bag.
Samford was able to scratch a run across in the bottom of the fourth. Garrett Howe led off with a single and advanced after a walk to Towns King. Two ground outs followed with the second one scoring Howe from third base. On a ball that squirted away from Tamez, King tried to score. Tamez hustled after the ball and flipped it to Hess covering the plate to tag out King to end the inning.
The Tide stranded four runners over the 4th and 5th innings, with a bases loaded double play keeping the team from scoring in the 5th. In the 6th Eblin blasted another ball to deep center that just stayed in the park for a double. Two walks loaded the bases and Eblin scored on a hit by pitch RBI from Zane Denton to make the score 5-0.
Bama scored three more times in the 7th to put the game out of reach. Diodati led off with his third hit of the game and after one out Eblin and Rose walked to load the bases. Jim Jarvis grounded out to first base for an RBI and Andrew Pinckney laced a single to right to plate two more.
Hunter Furtado took over for Hess in the 7th and kept the Bulldogs off the board despite two runners reaching on a single and an error. Coach Brad Bohannon started rotating in players off the bench in the 8th. Freshman Will Hodo pinch hit for Diodati and crushed the first home run of his college career to push the margin to 9-1 in favor to the Tide.
Freshman Hagan Banks pitched the 8th for Bama and after allowing a lead off home run to Hampton stranded two runners with back to back strikeouts. Brayden Gainey took over in the 9th and allowed one run on two hits, leaving the final score 9-3 in favor of the Tide.
Bama finished 15-40, drew eight walks, had one hit batter, struck out seven times, and stranded 13 runners on base. The Bulldogs hit 7-31 with three walks, one hit batter, struck out seven times, and left five on base. Five players had multi hit games for the Tide. Diodati was 3-3 with a walk, two runs scored, and a stolen base. Tamez drove in two runs on his 2-4 night with a walk, scored twice, and hit his 4th home run of the season. Rose was on base five times, 2-2 with three walks, one run, and one run driven in. Eblin was 2-4 with a walk, double, and two runs scored. Pinckney drove in two with his 2-6 night at the plate.
This was a good, workmanlike victory over an overmatched team. The Tide finished the season sweep over Samford with tonight’s win coupled with their 10-2 win earlier in the year. Hess threw his best game of the season by cutting down on the walks, and hence his pitch count. Tamez continued his hot hitting and now has two home runs over the last four games after two on opening night and no others until last Friday night. Diodati got on base in each of his four plate appearances and Rose reached on each of his five trips. William Hamiter missed tonight’s game with the shoulder injury he suffered on Saturday’s loss to Georgia.
Next up is the three game series at South Carolina. The games will be played at 6 p.m. CT on Thursday on the SEC Network, Friday at 6 p.m. CT on SEC Network Plus, and Saturday at 11 a.m. CT again on the SEC Network. The Tide sits 9-9 in league play and needs to pull off a series win this weekend. Other than Tennessee at 17-1 in league play most of the teams are bunched up within a game or two of each other. South Carolina is 6-12 in the league and 19-20 overall so this should be a winnable series. The Gamecocks have been up and down - from taking a series from Texas to being swept by Auburn this past weekend.
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch it