The Alabama Crimson Tide baseball team took on Florida State in a double header of six inning games on Saturday. The Tide and the Seminoles split the twin bill, with Bama winning 5-3 in game one and the ‘Noles taking the “night cap” 2-0. Alabama swept Auburn in fall play earlier in the fall and finished 3-1 in the autumn slate. The team has another week of practice and their annual World Series of the Crimson vs the Gray before breaking until January.
Game One: Won 5-3
Coach Rob Vaughn’s first Tide team is still forging their identity for the 2024 season, but it appears strong pitching and the long ball will be a big part of the equation. Staff ace Ben Hess took the mound for Bama after missing over half the season in 2023 with an arm issue. Hess is gradually working into shape and tossed only one inning in the game. After two quick outs on three pitches, Hess was taken deep by James Tibbs III for a quick 1-0 FSU lead. After allowing a double, Hess struck out Daniel Cantu to end his outing. There were 30 plus scouts in the crowd to see Hess, among others, who is rated the 28th prospect in the 2024 MLB Draft.
Alton Davis II followed Hess in inning number two and allowed an unearned run after a lead off double and an error. Davis struck out two and induced a ground ball to end the second inning. The Tide got on the board in the bottom of the second when Rutgers transfer Evan Sleight deposited a 1-1 pitch into the right field plaza to cut the lead to 2-1. Louisville transfer Greg Farone took over on the mound for Bama in the third and retired the Seminoles in order on 12 pitches with a strikeout.
Alabama tied the game in the bottom of the third on a long home run by junior outfielder Camden Hayslip. Hayslip slammed two home runs in game two vs Auburn two weeks ago, including a grand slam. Redshirt freshman Tyler Fay was next on the mound for the Tide and would have had a 1-2-3 inning but allowed a baserunner after a strikeout on a wild pitch. McGwire Holbrook scored on a single by Marco Dinges to give the visitors a 3-2 lead.
Freshman left hander Zane Adams was next on the hill for the home team in the 5th and worked around two walks to record a scoreless inning. With time running out the Tide rallied in the bottom of the 5th. Sleight started things with a single. After two outs, freshman shortstop Justin LeBron was hit by a pitch to put the go ahead run on base. Senior infielder Bryce Eblin got down 0-2 in the count before a launching a long home run into the right field plaza for a 5-3 Tide lead.
Junior Aidan Moza closed the game out in the top of the 6th on 10 pitches and two called strikeouts to secure the win for the Tide by the 5-3 final. Bama hit 6-21 in the game with three hit batters, zero walks, zero strikeouts, and no men left on base. Sleight was 2-2 with two runs scored and one driven in on his long ball. Ole Miss transfer outfielder TJ McCants was 2-3 in the game and Eblin led in RBI with three. Adams was the winning pitcher. FSU hit 5-23 in the game with one walk, nine strikeouts, and four runners left on base.
Game Two: Lost 2-0
Sophomore right hander Riley Quick drew the starting assignment for the Tide in game two. Quick struck out the first two batters he faced before the next two Seminoles reached on singles. A ground ball back to the mound ended the inning. Quick allowed a two out double in the second, but finished his stint with no runs allowed and two strikeouts.
Texas transfer Pierce George followed Quick on the mound and got into early trouble with a walk, a wild pitch, a run scoring single, and another walk. The fire throwing right hander recovered to record two strikeouts before being replaced by junior Braylon Myers. Myers got a ground out to limit the damage to one run.
Freshman Matthew Heiberger took the mound in the fourth for the Tide. After an infield single to start the frame, new Bama catcher Kameron Guangorena threw the runner out trying to swipe second base. Heiberger then struck out two Seminoles to cap an impressive inning of work. Florida State added an insurance run in the top of the 5th off of senior Zane Probst on a triple and a run scoring single. Once again, Guangorena ended the inning with a caught stealing of a base runner.
The Tide finally got their first hit of the game on a single by JUCO transfer Kade Snell, but could not dent the scoreboard. Freshman Sam Mitchell pitched the 6th for Bama and tossed a scoreless inning after a lead off single. In the bottom half, the Tide put the tying runs on base on singles by freshman Evan Haeger and sophomore Mason Swinney, but a sharp groundout ended the threat and the home team fell 2-0.
Alabama hit 3-20 in the game with two walks, one hit batter, eight strikeouts, and six left on base. Snell, Haeger, and Swinney had the only hits for the Tide. George was tagged with the loss. FSU finished 8-24 in the game with two walks, seven strikeouts, and five men left on base. Bama managed only nine hits in 41 at bats in the two games for a .219 average, drew two walks, had four hit batters, struck out eight times. and left six on base. FSU finished 13-47 for a .276 average with three walks, 10 strikeouts, and nine men left on base.
Overall it has been a good fall for the Tide. Three wins in four tries against two Power Five opponents is promising. The team has shown the ability to have a very strong pitching staff, led by Hess, Davis II, Quick, and Moza among many others. The majority of the runs that Bama scored in the four games came via the home run ball. Vaughn and his staff are doing a great job of meshing returning players with newcomers, both from the transfer portal and junior college and freshman. The team has another few practices left before taking off, and will return when school starts back in early January. The group looks to be exciting and should offer fans a fun season in 2024.
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch It