The Alabama baseball team went to Columbia, SC this weekend with an SEC record of 9-9 and good position to improve that over a Gamecock squad that had been underwhelming this season. In a very winnable series Bama lost all three games by score of 6-5 on a 9th inning walk off , 2-1 , and a 11-5 ugly loss in game three. Alabama fell to 25-20 overall and 9-12 in the SEC while USC improved to 22-20 and 9-12 in conference play.
After winning eight games in a row from April 2nd to April 15th, including six SEC wins in a row for a 8-5 conference record, the Tide has gone 2-8 overall and 1-7 in the conference. As a result the team has tumbled out of the top 25 and down from the lofty spot they held in the SEC. Bama has had 14 one run games and now has a record of 4-10 in such contests.
Game One- Lost 6-5
Garrett McMillian took the hill for the Tide to face Brett Thomas of the Gamecocks. Thomas entered the game with having pitched only 8.2 innings all year and had an ERA of over 8.0 per game. McMillian survived the first inning, which has been his kryptonite this season but was hit with a lead off home run in the 2nd by Andrew Eyster. Meanwhile through the first three innings the Tide had sent only 10 men to the plate off of Thomas. Drew Williamson had a two out 1st inning double, and Bryce Eblin had a lead off second inning single but was caught stealing.
In the 3rd the Cocks dented the scoreboard four times. Michael Braswell blasted a one out home run to make the score 2-0. Brandt Belk worked a full count walk before Kevin Madden hit what looked like a perfect double play ground ball to Eblin at second base. However Eblin booted the ball, which proved costly. Joshua Sighlter then slugged a monster three run home run to make the score 5-0.
The Tide started chipping away at the lead in the top of the 4th. Williamson walked with one out and advanced on a single by Zane Denton. Andrew Pinckney then singled to load the bases before William Hamiter drove in a run with a fielders choice. Dominic Tamez flew out deep to center field to end the threat with only one run scoring. Bama added one in the 5th, but missed another chance to make a bigger dent in the score. The Tide started with three straight hits. Eblin singled, advanced to third on a Caden Rose double, and scored on a single by Jim Jarvis. With runners on 2nd and 3rd and no outs the Tide was poised to have huge inning. However two strikeouts, when almost any contact would have scored a run, and a ground out stranded the runners.
Bama added on in the 6th as well. Pinckney lead off with a double and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Tamez, cutting the lead to 5-3. McMillian found his groove after the 3rd and shut down the Gamecocks until he was relived by Brock Guffey with two outs in the 7th. Both team went down in order in the 8th to set up the action packed 9th inning.
Eblin reached on an error to begin the top of the 9th and was forced out at second on a ground ball by pinch hitter Will Hodo. Jarvis walked before Owen Diodati flew out to center field to advance the runners. Williamson laced a single to easily score Hodo while Jarvis flew around from second and just beat the throw with a nifty head first slide. After a review the call was upheld and the score was now tied at five apiece. Williamson was thrown out trying to steal on a close play to end the inning.
Guffey struck out the first batter of the bottom half before Evan Stone reached on a perfect bunt single. Talmadge LeCroy followed with a single to put runners on the corners with one out. Catcher Colin Burgess, a .199 hitter, then blooped a single between Jarvis at short and Diodati in left field to plate the winning run.
The Tide hit 10-35 in the game, drew three walks, struck out eight times, made one costly error, and left seven men on base. The Gamecocks finished 8-33 with two walks, five strikeouts, one error, and four men left on base. Individually Eblin was 3-4 with a run scored, Williamson was 2-3 with two RBI, a double, a run, and two walks. Pinckney continued his stellar season with a 2-4 game with a double and run scored. Guffey was tagged with the loss and now is 2-2 on the season.
Game Two- lost 2-1
Jacob McNairy started for the Tide against Noah Hall for South Carolina. McNairy likely had the best performance of his Alabama career, but it wasn't enough as Hall baffled Bama hitters all game. After two perfect innings McNairy made one mistake and Kevin Madden hit it out of the park for a 1-0 lead and for the longest time what looked like might be the only run of the game.
In the 5th the Tide had scoring opportunity go by the wayside. Caden Rose walked and advance to third on a one out single by Jim Jarvis. Andrew Pinckney then dribbled a ball in front of the plate that Hall fielded and easily threw Rose out at the plate. A fly ball then ended the inning with no runs on the board.
McNairy worked out of trouble in the 4th and 6th as he continued to keep the game within reach. In the 7th Andrew Pinckney kept the game at 1-0. Michael Braswell led off the frame with sinking line drive to right field. Pinckney made the choice to try for the diving catch, but the ball got by him for a triple. After a fantastic play at third base by Zane Denton for out one Pinckney more than made up for the missed catch. Colin Burgess hit a fly ball to right for seemingly an RBI sacrifice fly. Pinckney had different ideas. After making the grab Pinckney unleashed a rocket throw to Dominic Tamez behind the plate who easily tagged out the speedy Braswell to end the inning. As Tide fans have learned to say “not on Pink” as the redshirt sophomore continues to show off his cannon of a right arm.
The play seemed to wake of the Tide offense in the top of the 8th. Jarvis led off with a single, followed by a walk to Pinckney. A passed ball advanced the duo to 2nd and 3rd. After a pop out for out one, Tamez singled to right to score Jarvis and tie the game up. A pop out and a strikeout kept the Tide from taking the lead with a runner in scoring position.
Dylan Ray replaced McNairy In the bottom of the 8th. Thursday nights hero, Evan Stone, worked a 3-2 walk on a border line pitch. The speedy Stone then stole second base and when the throw from Tamez hit him on the backside he was able to advance to third as the ball shot into center field. Brandt Belk hit a sacrifice fly to score Stone with what proved to be the winning run. Ray loaded the bases with two walks sandwiched around a single, but got a strikeout to hold the game at 2-1. The Tide went down in order in the 9th and had their second consecutive one run loss.
The Tide hit 5-30 with five walks, one hit batter, 10 strikeouts, three runners thrown out on the base paths, one error, and eight left on base. The Cocks were 6-27 with five walks, eight strikeouts, and seven left on base. Jarvis was 2-4 with the Tide’s only run scored. McNairy pitched 7 innings, allowing five hits, walked two, and struck out seven over 112 pitches.
Game Three- Lost 11-5
Grayson Hitt took the mound for the Tide in game three, coming off a sparkling performance last Sunday against Georgia. Bama had one every game three except for at Tennessee during conference play. South Carolina countered with their best arm, Will Sanders. Sanders took the mound basically wearing short pants as he had his baseball pants pulled up above his mid thigh.
Bama started the game like they were going to make a statement. Jim Jarvis led off with a single and went to third on a double by Andrew Pinckney. Drew Williamson hit a sacrifice fly to center to scored Jarvis and a William Hamiter double plated Pinckney for a quick 2-0 lead. So much for the fast start. USCe used a walk, two doubles, and two singles to score three runs of their own and take the 3-2 lead.
Hitt allowed a single to Josiah Sightler and a disputed home run to Andrew Eyster in the third before being replaced by Braylon Myers. Myers worked out of the third but ran into trouble in the 4th. Two hit batters, two singles, and a walk brought three runs across and fellow freshman Luke Holman out of the bullpen. Holman struck out the side in the 6th but allowed two hits, hit two batters, and allowed one run to make the score 9-2.
The Tide made some noise in the 6th when Pinckney and Williamson led off with singles. Dominic Tamez then bombed a three run home run to cut the lead to 9-5. Hamiter reached after being hit by a pitch, but a strikeout and a double play ended the inning.
Jake Leger allowed one run over the 6th and 7th inning and Hunter Furtado allowed one more in the 8th. Bama hitters couldn’t score again and the final was 11-5. The Tide hit 8-35 in the game, had two walks, 11 strikeouts, and five left on base. USC was 14-34 with five walks, five hit batters, 10 strikeouts, and left 12 on base. Pinckney finished 3-4 with a double and two runs scored. Tamez drove in three runs with his 5th home run. Hitt fell to 4-2 with the loss.
For the series Bama hit 23-98 for a .234 average, drew 10 walks, struck out 29 times, and left 20 runners on base. The Gamecocks hit 28-94 for a .297 average, walked 12 times, had six hit batters, struck out 23 times, and stranded 33 men on base.
Who did what ?
*Andrew Pinckney 4-11, two doubles, four runs, one walk, one outfield assist . You can't say enough about the season Pinckney has put together, both offensively and defensively. The red shirt sophomore has put himself on scouts radar and should be in the mix to be a high draft choice
*Jim Jarvis 4-13, three runs, RBI, walk
*Drew Williamson 3-10, three RBI, two runs, walk double, sac fly
*Dominic Tamez 2-11, five RBI, sac fly, run, home run (5)
*Jacob McNairy ND, 7 IP, 5 hits, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts, 1 run allowed
Nothing good to say about this one, a must win series against a very beatable opponent that got away. The first two games were there for the taking but mistakes and missed opportunities doomed the team. South Carolina came in near the bottom of the league at 6-12 and one of the weakest statistical teams in the league in batting average, home runs, slugging percentage, on base percentage, and ERA. They didn't play like it against the Tide. The Gamecocks do play much better at home, and now are 18-9 in Columbia, 2-10 in road games, and 2-1 in neutral site contests.
The Tide has to right the ship quickly as their last three series are against ranked teams with LSU at home, Auburn on the road, and Arkansas at home. A golden chance to enter that stretch with a winning conference record went by the wayside this weekend. A winning record in the last nine games will likely be a must to entertain any hope of reaching the NCAA Tournament.
The LSU series will be Friday, Saturday, Sunday in Tuscaloosa with games at 6 p.m., 7:30 p.m., followed by a 1 p.m. start on Sunday. Saturday’s game will be on the SEC Network while the other two will be on SEC Network Plus.
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch It