The Crimson Tide baseball team has been struggling down the stretch, falling from 8-5 in the SEC after a defeat of number one Tennessee on April 15th to 10-16 entering the weekend. On top of that the 5th ranked Arkansas Razorbacks were this weekend’s opponent. The Tide was battling to make the SEC Tournament- 12 of the 14 teams make up the field- and after losing on Thursday night the odds were narrowing. Bama bounced back to take a thrilling victory 8-6 victory on Friday and wiped out the Hogs by a score of 18-5 on Saturday. The Tide is now 29-25 overall and finished 12-17 in the SEC. Arkansas fell to 38-16 and 18-12 in the league. Nine of the 12 SEC wins for Bama were against teams that were ranked at the time, and two more were against Texas A&M which is a top 10 team now.
Game One: Lost 7-3
Garrett McMillian took the mound for the Tide against Will McEntire for Arkansas in Thursday nights opener. McMillian was perfect through four innings and the Tide staked him to a 3-0 lead. In the second Andrew Pinckney and Jim Jarvis both singled with no outs to start a rally. Tommy Seidl chopped a double over third base to score one run and Caden Rose shot an RBI single up the middle for another. With runners on first and third and one out the Tide couldn't bring home another run in the frame.
In the third Bama got a one out single from Zane Denton and a walk to Pinckney to again have a scoring chance. However a ground ball double play ended the frame without a run. A two out double from Rose and an RBI single from William Hamiter in the fourth pushed the Tide to a 3-0 lead.
Arkansas sent eight men to the plate in the 5th and scored five runs to take the lead. All of the runs scored as a result of two out hits. Home runs by Peyton Stovall and Cayden Wallace pushed all the runs across. McMillian recorded the first out in the top of the 6th then allowed a single before being replaced by Jake Leger. Leger got help from a caught stealing and ended the inning with a pop out.
McIntire tossed four innings, allowing eight hits and walking two. However the Tide could only score three of those 10 baserunners. The Hog bullpen combined to pitch five innings and only allowed two hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. Bama had a couple of chances to cut into the lead but could not come through with the hits when needed. Leger continued and left in the 9th inning with two on and two out. Luke Holman allowed a two run double before ending the inning with a ground out. Trailing 7-3 the Tide only go at leadoff walk to Rose in the bottom of the 9th and went down to defeat.
Bama hit 10-35 in the game, had five walks, struck out 12 times, and left 10 on base. The Hogs hit 8-34, had two walks, struck out seven times, and left only two on base. Despite having five less base runners than the Tide, Arkansas used their two long balls and their bullpen to take the series opener.
Caden Rose finished 3-4 with a double, walk, RBI, and run scored from the lead off spot. Pinckney was the only other Tide player with multiple hits with his 2-3 night with a double and run scored. Seidl and Hamiter had the teams other two runs driven in. McMillian was tagged with the loss, falling to 4-5 on the season. Evan Taylor was the winner and improved to 5-0 for the Razorbacks.
Game Two: Won 8-6
On Friday the Tide honored their senior class and clinched a spot in the SEC Tournament all in one day. Pregame the team honored pitchers Landon Green, Jacob McNairy, Brock Guffey, and Hunter Ruth as well as two first baseman, Drew Williamson and Eric Foggo. McNairy also drew the starting assignment in the game.
McNairy walked Brady Slavens to lead off the second inning and Slavens scored on a double by Peyton Stoval for a quick 1-0 Arky lead. Connor Noland started for the Hogs on the mound and made quick work of the Tide over the first two innings. In the third Bama loaded the bases on a single by Owen Diodati, a walk to Jim Jarvis, and a single from William Hamiter, but could not push a run across.
Arkansas used a Chris Lanzilli lead off fourth inning double and a single from Slavens to move the lead to 2-0. Bama answered in the bottom of the 4th, but wasted a golden opportunity to tie or take the lead. Williamson led off with a single, advanced on a Dominic Tamez single. and scored on a single from Zane Denton. The next three batters went down in order to leave the score at 2-1.
The Razorbacks added two runs in the top of the 5th off of McNairy on three hits, one walk, and one sac bunt for a 4-1 lead. In the bottom of the 5th something happened that has not happened this season. The Tide sent 11 men to the plate and scored six runs to take control of the game.
Caden Rose got things started with a lead off walk and scooted to third on a single by Hamiter. Andrew Pinckney hit into a force out to score Rose. Williamson singled and was followed by an RBI single from Dom Tamez. Denton followed with a walk before Tommy Seidl singled in one run and Diodati lined a hit to right to score two more. Jarvis put down a perfect squeeze bunt to plate run number six in the uprising.
Freshman Ben Hess replaced McNairy in the 6th and had a three up three down inning. Pinckney led off the bottom of the 6th for the Tide with his seventh home run of the year, an absolute bomb to left field. Hess hit a batter, allowed a single, and then a two run double in the 7th and was chased in favor of Brock Guffey. Guffey recorded a strikeout to end the 7th and faced only three batters in the 8th thanks to a strikeout and double play turned by Rose to Jarvis to Williamson.
Guffey game back out for the 9th and retired the first batter he faced, allowed a single, got a fly out, then another single. With the go ahead run at the plate the Tide called on closer Dylan Ray to put out the fire. Ray used four pitches to strike out Lanzilli and end the game with Bama on the top of the 8-6 score.
The Tide hit 11-36 in the game with four walks, nine strikeouts, and nine men left on base. Arkansas finished 11-35 with three walks, one hit batters, 12 strikeouts, and seven left on base. Diodati finished 2-4 with two driven in and was joined with multi hit games by Hamiter at 2-5, Williamson at 2-4 with two runs and a walk, and Tamez at 2-5 with a run and an RBI. Pinckney drove in two with his 1-5 night with two runs. McNairy improved to 6-2 with the win and Ray earned his sixth save of the season.
Game Three: Won 18-5
Wow, just wow. Grayson Hitt started on the mound for the Tide and the sophomore left hander got in quick trouble. A one out infield single, a walk, and two RBI singles staked the Razorbacks to a 2-0 margin after the top of the first.
The Tide went out in order in the first, but quickly remedied that in the second. Drew Williamson walked, Dominic Tamez singled, Owen Diodati singled in Williamson to cut the lead to 2-1 before all chaos broke out. After a strikeout for out one a walk and an error on a squeeze bunt from Bryce Eblin coupled with two wild pitches and a passed ball put three more runs across. A William Hamiter ground out scored another and a Andrew Pinckney double brought in the 6th run of the inning.
Bama added on in the 3rd without the aid of a hit. Two walks, a hit batter, and a wild pitch on strikeout, made the score 7-2 Bama after three. At that point the Tide had seven runs on three hits. Cayden Wallace homered for the Hogs in the top of the 4th to make the score 7-3. After not having a six run inning all year, Bama added their third in two games in the bottom of the fourth.
Hamiter started the inning with his 4th home run of the year and was followed by singles by Pinckney and Williamson. Tamez drove in one run with a fielders choice before Diodati walked to load the bases. Zane Denton got an RBI on a hit by pitch and Hamiter topped the frame off with a two run single.
Antoine Jean replaced Hitt on the mound to begin the 5th inning and with the help of Pinckney faced only three batters. After a strikeout and ground out Brady Slavens singled to right and made the unfortunate decision to try to reach second with the ball heading toward Pinckney in right. Right on que the “not on Pink” cheers came from the stands and Slavens made the mistake of challenging the right arm of the best outfield arm in the conference. Slavens was dead meat at second to end the inning.
The Tide apparently liked the big innings and added a five spot in the bottom of the 5th. Williamson led off by being hit by a pitch. Tamez and Diodati both walked to load the bases. Denton drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and Jim Jarvis singled to reload the bases. The lefty swinging Eblin then hit an opposite field grand slam to make the lead 18-3.
Jean allowed a two run home run to Braydon Webb in the 6th to end the scoring in the game. Jean pitched three innings and was followed by solo innings from Hunter Furtado and Landon Green. Coach Brad Bohannon shifted in some bench players over the last few innings as the Tide held on for the 18-5 shellacking.
The Tide hit 11-36 in the game, walked 11 times, had three hit batters, struck out 11 times, left 10 runners on base, and were helped by four Arkansas wild pitched, a passed ball, and two errors. Arkansas hit 11-35 with four walks, seven strikeouts, and seven left on base. Hamiter led the way at 2-4 with four RBI, a home run and run scored, Pinckney hit 2-6 with a run and an RBI and a double, Jarvis was 2-3 with three runs scored, one driven in, and two walks. Diodati was 1-2 with four walks, three runs scored, and one driven in. Tamez was 1-3 with three runs scored, an RBI and a walk. Eblin was only 1-4 but drove in five with his squeeze bunt and grand slam home run. Jean was the winning pitcher and is now 4-1 on the year.
Who Did What ?
- William Hamiter 5-14, 5 RBI, run, home run
- Andrew Pinckney 5-14, 4 runs, home run, double, 3 RBI, outfield assist
- Drew Williamson 4-11, 5 runs, two walks, hit batter
- Caden Rose 4-13, 3 walks, RBI, double, 3 runs
- Owen Diodati 3-7, 4 walks, 3 runs, 3 RBI
- Jim Jarvis 3-8, 4 runs, 3 walks, 2 RBI, squeeze bunt
- Jacob McNairy W (6-2) 5 IP 6 H 3 BB 7 K 4 runs
- Brock Guffey 2 IP, 3 H 0 BB 2 K 0 R
- Antoine W (4-1) 3 IP 3 H 2 R 1 BB 2K
Overall the Tide hit 32-107 for a .299 average in the series while walking 20 times, being hit four times, striking out 32 times, and leaving 29 runners on base. The Hogs batted 30-104 for a .288 average, drew only nine walks, struck out 26 times, and left 16 on base.
This was a huge series win for the Tide over the 5th ranked team in the country. The team played their best baseball of the season on Friday and Saturday, showing what they are capable of. The roller coaster of a regular season has ended and the Tide has the same record in the conference, 12-17, as they did last season. Hopefully again Bama can get some wins in the SEC Tournament and make their way into the NCAA Tournament. After some unexpected midweek stumbles the Tide will need a deep run next week to boost their resume. Some players that have been slumping late in the year starting turning things around this weekend and that will be a necessity going forward.
The SEC Tournament bracket is set and the Tide is the 11th seed. Bama will face 6th seed Georgia on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. in Hoover, AL. If the Tide wins on Tuesday they would advanced to the double elimination part of the Tournament and face a rematch with number three seed Arkansas in another 9:30 a.m. start.
Bama Baseball Fever, it isn't too late to catch it!