The suddenly hot Alabama Crimson Tide defeated Georgia by a score of 5-3 on Tuesday in the opening game of the SEC Tournament. The game was delayed for about an hour due to weather, played two innings, and then faced a two hour break before resuming. Garrett McMillian started on the mound for the Tide on only four days rest but was burned after just two innings this morning. Bama held a 5-1 lead when the skies opened up.
The Tide jumped out early, scoring three times in the first and twice in the second. Caden Rose led off the game with a line shot double to left field and scored on a screaming single by Andrew Pinckney. Pinckney stole second and moved to third on a ground out by Drew Williamson. Dominic Tamez drew a walk and both runners moved up on a passed ball. William Hamiter hit a pop up that third baseman Josh McAllister went back on a made a nice catch but the speedy Pinckney tagged up and scored... on a sacrifice fly to the third baseman!
Zane Denton then singled to score Tamez and give the Tide the early 3-0 lead.
McMillian allowed an infield single to lead off the bottom of the first but a strikeout and a double play started by McMillian ended the frame. Bama added their last two runs in the second with only one hit. Tommy Seidl started the frame with a single and advanced on a sac bunt by Jim Jarvis. Rose walked and Pinckney was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Seidl raced home on a wild pitch, advancing Rose and Pinckney to third and second. Williamson hit a deep fly ball to center field for a sacrifice fly RBI to make the score 5-0.
The Bulldogs got a solo home run from Parks Harber in the bottom half of the second. With two outs the Dawgs got a walk and a single, but a strikeout ended the threat. Before the Tide could bat in the third weather forced a delay that stretched out for around three hours.
When the game resumed Alabama coach Brad Bohannon called on freshman Ben Hess to take over on the mound in the biggest stage of his young career. Hess induced a weak ground ball to the mound and struck out two to end the third, and then struck out three straight in the 4th and the first two batters in the 5th. Hess set down 13 in a row, with 10 strikeouts, before allowing a single and a walk with one out in the 7th. Hoover native Brock Guffey replaced Hess and got a weak ground out and a strikeout to end the uprising. Meanwhile Jaden Woods was almost as affective for the Bulldogs, tossing four scoreless innings while allowing one hit, with one hit batters, two walks, and seven strikeouts. The Tide’s best chance to score was in the 5th when a Denton single and walks to Seidl and Jarvis loaded the bases with two outs but could not score.
Guffey recorded two quick outs in the 8th but an infield single by Cole Tate brought twin brother Connor Tate to the plate. Connor Tate blasted a two run home run over the wall in centerfield to cut the lead to 5-3. Guffey bounced back to strike out Corey Collins to end the inning. Tamez singled for the Tide in the top of the 9th as the team tried to tack on an insurance run. Hamiter’s sacrifice bunt moved to Tamez to second, but a strikeout and a ground out left hime there.
Bohannon brought closer Dylan Ray in to shut the door in the 9th. Ray, fresh off being named to the Freshman All-SEC team, used two strikeouts and a fly out to right field to earn his 7th save of the year. Hess was a the winner and is now 3-1 on the season. Luke Wagner fell to 5-2 for the Dogs.
The Tide hit 6-29 in the game, drew five walks, had five hit batters, struck out 11 times, and left 11 men on base. UGA finished 6-32 with only two walks, 17 huge strikeouts, and stranded four runners.
Denton was the only Tide player with a multi hit game finishing 2-5 with an RBI. Jarvis was an efficient 0-0 with a walk, two hit by pitch, and a sacrifice bunt. Rose was 1-4 with a double, and a run scored. Pinckney, Hamiter. and Williamson also had one RBI each. Pinckney was robbed of a home run in the 4th on a leaping grab by Connor Tate.
Bama has now won three of their last four, all against highly ranked teams. On the season the Tide has 12 wins over ranked teams, and seems to be peaking at the right time.
Hess was the star of the show, flashing the potential that the Tide staff has been waiting on. Hess missed his junior year of high school ball because of Covid and his senior season after back surgery. He was starting to get back in the fall when he suffered a freak injury over the Christmas break and missed several weeks of working out. Once back, the big 6’5” product of Charleston, IL was slowly worked back as the teams mid week starter. Hess slowly, week by week, built his strength back and his pitch count limit increase. Today the star to be threw a career high 78 pitches, 52 of which were strikes.
Next up the 11th seeded Tide will play 3rd seeded Arkansas again. Bama just defeated the Hogs two games to one in a series last weekend. The game would have been at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, but with the terrible weather as of 6 p.m. on Tuesday the Alabama- Georgia game has been the only game played. The earliest the Wednesday game could be would be the second game of the day (around 1:30), but could also become the 3rd or 4th game of the day. The weather looks dicey all week so the Conference may have some tough decisions to make regarding the playing of the games.
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch It