The Alabama Crimson Tide baseball team advanced to the winners bracket of the SEC Tournament by defeating 10th ranked Arkansas by a score of 4-3 on Wednesday. The victory was the Tide’s fourth in a row with three of those being wins over the Razorbacks. Arkansas was ranked 5th when they lost two out of three to Bama last weekend. Coupled with Tuesday’s win over Georgia the Tide has four straight wins, all over ranked teams.
Jacob McNairy drew the starting assignment on the mound for the Tide, pitted against Will McEntire for the Hogs. Bama drew first blood, scoring twice in the top of the second inning. Drew Williamson led off with a single but was cut down at second on a hit and run when Dominic Tamez could not make contact with the pitch. Tamez went on to draw a walk, then advanced to second when Zane Denton singled. Jim Jarvis walked to load the bases for Tommy Seidl. Seidl hit a ground ball in the hole that Arkansas Jalen Battles fielded and threw to second in the attempt to pull off a double play. Tamez crossed the plate and when Seidl beat the throw and the ball bounced away from first baseman Peyton Stovall, Denton raced home and just beat the throw with a head first slide.
The Tide added to the lead in the third without the aid of a hit. Caden Rose walked to begin the frame and moved to second on a passed ball. With one out Andrew Pinckney struck out, but catcher Michael Turner could not hold on to the ball. Rose started toward third and when the throw went to the hot corner the speedy Rose looked to be caught in no man’s land. However, Rose was able to scoot past the shortstop and slide into third and beat the tag. Meanwhile. Pinckney ended up on second.
For the second game in a row the aggressive Tide scored on a sacrifice fly to the third baseman. One day after Pinckney pulled off the unusual feat, Rose did as well. Williamson lifted a pop fly in foul territory just past the third base bag. Cayden Wallace made the grab over his shoulder and his momentum carried him into the net in foul territory. Coach Brad Bohannon gave Rose the word and the sophomore centerfielder beat the throw, sliding in head first for the Tide’s third run of the game.
T3 | Hustle play from Caden scores one more of the flyout in foul territory! ( https://t.co/v3Y8ilEq1C)— Alabama Baseball (@AlabamaBSB) May 25, 2022
3-0 Alabama#RollTide pic.twitter.com/7L37z5t8Uk
Battles put the Hogs on the board in the third with a one out home run off of McNairy. McNairy got a strikeout and ground out to end the inning. The Tide answered in the top of the 4th with help from Arkansas. Seidl worked a two out walk and advanced to third on a single by Bryce Eblin. Rose drew a walk to load the bases. Seidl was jockeying off the bag at and Hog catcher Turner tried to pick him off third base. When his throw sailed into left field Seidl raced home with Bama’s last run of the game. The Tide had a chance to score in the 5th when Williamson doubled with one out and went to third on a balk. Tamez hit what looked to be a sacrifice fly to right field, but a perfect throw from Chris Lanzilli and great tag by Turner cut down Williamson at the plate for an inning ending double play.
McNairy got into trouble in the 5th when he hit the lead off batter and walked the second man up. Denton fielded a ground ball at third and tried for a double play, but the runner at second was the only out recorded on the play. With runners on 1st and 3rd and a 2-2 count on Zach Gregory, Jake Leger was called in from the bullpen to replace McNairy. Leger struck out Gregory for out two and got a ground out to first base from Wallace to end the threat.
Arkansas drew within one run in the 6th off of Leger. Slavens struck out to led off the inning, but reached base as the pitch could not be fielded cleanly. Lanzilli then launched a long blast over the centerfield wall to make the score 4-3 in the Tide’s favor. Leger recovered to retire the next three batters, one of which was a web gem by Jarvis at shortstop. Robert Moore hit a hard ground ball that Denton dove for at third base and deflected toward Jarvis. The junior from San Diego made the play and gunned a throw to first to cut down Moore, keeping the tying run off of base.
Bama was unable to nail down any insurance runs over the last three innings, with only one base runner during the final third of the game. Instead, the Tide used clutch pitching to hold on for the win.
Landon Green replace Leger in the 7th after one out. Green got a ground ball for out two then hit the next batter. Antoine Jean was called in to pitch and quickly walked the first batter he faced on four pitches. A strikeout of Slavens ended the threat. Jean pitched a perfect 8th and got the first two batters in the 9th before Battles reached on a single. Closer Dylan Ray was summoned from the pen to finish the game Ray struck out pinch hitter Jace Bohrofen on four pitches to earn his 8th save of the year.
@CStewartSports on @UA_CTSN “4-3 your final.. MERCY!” pic.twitter.com/B4nTGsKiTx— ChicagoGump 2.0 (@BurnerGSmith) May 26, 2022
The Tide hit only 4-29 in the game, drew six walks, struck out 10 times, had one wild pitch and stranded five runners on base. The Hogs were only 5-32 with two walks, two hit batters, nine strikeouts, six left on base, two errors, and two wild pitches. Jean was awarded the victory and improved to 5-1 on the season. Williamson was 2-3 with a double, sacrifice fly, and RBI. Denton and Eblin had the only other hits for the Tide. Seidl had a walk, run scored, and one RBI. Tamez had two walks and he and Denton scored the other two runs for Bama.
Alabama is playing their best ball of the season over the last four games. The Tide has now beaten Arkansas in three of four games over the last week. Throw in a win over Georgia and Bama now has their RPI up to 41 and has the 5th ranked strength of schedule in the country, as the team pads their resume for a possible NCAA Tournament bid.
Bohannon and staff seem to have ratcheted up the aggressiveness on the bases, at the plate, and on the mound. With nothing to lose, the team is playing loose, and good things are starting to happen. Bohannon and pitching coach Jason Jackson are mixing and matching pitchers with batters unlike they have for the majority of the season.
With the two wins thus far, the Tide has 14 conference wins against 17 losses. One or two more wins would give Bama a strong argument to be included in the NCAA field of 64.
Next up Bama will play the winner of the Texas A&M and Florida game that was to have been played on Wednesday. Due to bad weather their game is going to attempted to be played on Thursday morning. The Tide is 5th in the queue of games to be played over the next two days. Thursday’s weather outlook looks ominous at this point and there is a lot of questions about what the conference will do to finish the tournament.
Projecting to possible opponents, both the Gators and the Aggies will be a boost to the Tide’s RPI and strength of schedule. Earlier in the year, Bama lost 2-of-3 to the Gators, but took 2-of-3 from the Aggies. With a day off on Thursday, the Tide should have most of their arms ready to go over the weekend as they try to advance.
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