In a series that was pulled together just this past Wednesday, the 20th ranked Alabama Crimson Tide swept the High Point Panthers this weekend. The Tide won 9-4 on Friday, 10-6 on Saturday, and 4-2 on Sunday.
Bama was suppose to travel to Malibu to play Pepperdine this weekend and the HPU also had a California trip planned. Inclement weather changed that plan and the two schools were able to piece together the Panthers trip to Tuscaloosa.
The Tide improved to 8-0 on the season while High Point fell to 3-4.
Game One: 9-4
Alabama sent LHP Grayson Hitt to the mound for game one of the series on Friday. The junior southpaw struck out the leadoff man but then a walk and a single put two runners on base. An error allowed a run to cross before a double play ended the inning. The Tide knotted things up in the bottom of the first. Jim Jarvis led off with a walk and scored on a double by Dominic Tamez. In the second Mac Guscette hit his third home run of the season to give Bama a lead at 2-1.
Hitt ran into trouble in the 4th when he walked the leadoff man and hit the next batter. After a strikeout and a fly out Hitt was pulled in favor of freshman right-hander Brock Blatter. Blatter walked his first man to load the bases and hit the next man to force in a run. An infield single brought in the second run of the inning before a leaping grab by Jarvis at shortstop ended the frame with HPU ahead by a scored of 3-2.
The Tide took the lead for good in the bottom of the 4th. Colby Shelton led off the inning reaching base after being hit with a pitch. After a fly out Ed Johnson blasted a line drive home run for a 4-3 Bama lead. Blatter remained on the mound for the Tide and had perfect innings in the 5th and 6th with five strikeouts.
Bama added two in the 5th with an RBI single for Shelton and a Panther error. Blatter began the 7th inning and after another strikeout gave up a one out double and was replace by Alton Davis II. Davis, a freshman left hander, gave up a couple of singles, one of which plated a run, but ended the inning with Bama still ahead 6-4.
The Tide added insurance in the bottom of the 7th when Johnson slammed his second home run of game, a three run job, and the lead was pushed out to 9-4. Davis pitched 1.2 innings, allowing one hit, striking out one, with no walks and no runs. Left hander Hunter Furtado handled the 9th, allowing a walk and a hit but striking out the last man to end the game.
Alabama hit 12-36 in the game drew four walks, struck out four times, and left eight men on base. Johnson was the big stick at 2-4 with his two home runs and five RBIs. Guscetee was also 2-4 with his home run, two runs, and one driven in. Andrew Pinckney was 2-5 with a run scored. Drew Williamson finished 2-4 with a double. Billings, Montana native, Blatter, recorded the first win of his career. High Point hit 6-33 with six walks, 14 strikeouts, two hit batters, and left 10 men on base.
Game Two: 10-6
Big righty Ben Hess drew the starting assignment on the mound for the Tide in game two. Hess began with two perfect innings with four strikeouts before he uncharacteristically ran into trouble in the third. Before the frame was over 11 men had come to the plate scoring six times. Three home runs, a walk, and error, a double, and two singles put the Tide in a 6-0 lead after 2.5 innings.
It took until the 5th inning, but the Tide bounced back strong, plating seven runs of their own. Jim Jarvis lead off with a single and moved up on a walk to Tommy Seidl, one of four for the senior outfielder. Ed Johnson singled and with the bases loaded Caden Rose hit into a fielder choice to drive in a run. Andrew Pinckney did the same to drive in run number two. Drew Williamson and Mac Guscette both singled to reload the bags. Bryce Eblin lined a two run single, followed by a go-ahead three run bomb off the bat of Dominic Tamez.
The bullpen took over for the Tide in the fourth with Connor Ball taking the horsehide. Ball gave his team 2.1 clutch innings while allowing a single and walking one. Zane Probst replaced Ball and got the last two outs of the 6th inning to hold on to the lead. Probst came back out for the 7th and struck out the first two batters. With a 2-0 count on Cael Chatham pitching coach Jason Jackson called sophomore Braylon Myers out of the pen. The batter walked on a close 3-2 pitch before Myers struck out Xavier Cumbee to end the inning. Myers allowed a single in the 8th but nothing further.
Bama added some insurance in the bottom of the 8th. After another walk to Seidl, Johnson put down a perfect sac bunt to move Seidl up. Rose singled and stole second to put two men in scoring position. There was no need as Williamson hit a line drive home run for his 4th of the season and three runs driven in. With a 10-6 lead Myers closed the door in the top of 9th to secure the victory.
The Tide hit 12-35 in the game, walked six times, had one hit batter, struck out five times, and left eight men on base. Tamez was 2-4 with a home run, three RBI and a run scored. Williamson was 2-5 with three driven in, two scored, and his home run. Eblin was 2-5 with two RBI and Guscette had a double while scoring a run and hitting 2-4 in the game.
Ball earned the first win of his career and Myers got his second save of the season. The bullpen combined to pitch six innings allowing three hits, three walks, and four strikeouts.
High Point hit 9-33 with four walks, one hit batters, nine strikeouts, and left seven on base.
Game Three: 4-2
Super senior Jacob McNairy, a fifth year right hander, started on the mound for the Tide in game three. McNairy was sharp and efficient through the first four innings, allowing only two singles on a total of 40 pitches.
Freshman third baseman Colby Shelton put the Tide on the board first with an opposite field home run with one out in the third. Bama added two runs in the 4th. Ed Johnson walked with one out and advanced on a single by Will Hodo. Mac Guscette was hit by a pitch before Johnson raced home on a wild pitch. Bryce Eblin hit a deep ball to center field for a sacrifice fly, scoring Hodo.
McNairy had his only troublesome inning in the 5th. A double, a hit batter, two singles, and a sacrifice fly out the margin to 3-2 after the top of the fifth. Despite loading the bases with only one out in the bottom of the 5th, the Tide was only able to tally one more run. Johnson singled in Andrew Pinckney who lead off the inning with a single of his own.
Sophomore Hagan Banks took over for McNairy in the 6th and pitched a scoreless inning allowing only a harmless single while striking out one man. Redshirt freshman Kade Woods was next on the bump for the Tide and was electric. In his two perfect innings Woods used a 96 mile an hour fast ball to strike out five of the six batters he faced. Freshman right-hander Riley Quick took over in the 9th and worked around a one out double to end the game.
The Tide hit on 4-25 but walked 10 times, had two hit batters, struck out nine times, and left 11 on base. Bama had the bases loaded in four different innings. Shelton finished 1-3 with his second home run of the year, Johnson was 1-2 with a two walks and a run driven in Eblin drove in one run with his sac fly. High Point hit 7-33 with no walks, 10 strikeouts, one hit batters, and six men left on base. Overall Bama hit .273 over the weekend with 21 walks, two hit batters, 18 strikeouts, and left 26 men on base. High Point hit 22-99 for a .222 average while drawing 10 walks, striking out 33 times, and leaving 22 men on base.
McNairy improved to 2-0 with the win and Quick got the first save of his Alabama career.
First, a huge thank you to High Point in helping the Tide have an opponent to play this weekend.
The players were understandably disappointed to miss out on the trip to Malibu, but came out and won three games that they should have. Bama used power — six home runs —mixed with some small ball and excellent pitching out of the bullpen.
Over the three games, the relief corps combined to pitch 15.1 innings, allowed 10 hits, walked five batters, struck out 19 men and allowed only one run (earned). There were four freshman and three sophomores along with two juniors that came out of the pen for Bama in the series. With Hitt and Hess, the Tide’s top two starting pitchers, the pen need to step up, an they did in a big way.
The team showed they can win in a number of ways, with high scoring games, a low scoring game, a big comeback victory, and using power as well as a mix of small ball. The depth of the team both on the position side and the pitching side have been a huge part of the teams 8-0 start.
Who did what?
- Mac Guscette 4-8, home run, double, RBI, two walks, hit by pitch
- Ed Johnson 4-10, two home runs, six RBI, two walks, three runs, sac bunt
- Drew Williamson 4-12, double, home run, two runs, three RBI
- Dom Tamez 3-8, double, home run, 3 RBI, run
- Andrew Pinckney 4-14, three runs, RBI, double
- Kade Woods 2 IP 0 H 0 BB 5 K
- Brock Blatter W (1-0) 2.2 IP 2 H 1 BB 6 K
- Jacob McNairy W (2-0) 5 IP 5 H 0 BB 3 K 2 runs
What’s next ?
A single mid week game home game with Jacksonville State at 3 p.m. Wednesday followed by a visit from University of Illinois-Chicago for a three game series over the weekend. The games will be at 3 p.m on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday, and 12 noon on Sunday. All home games can be found on the ESPN App/ SEC Network Plus.