The 18th ranked Crimson Tide baseball team entered the weekend flying high with a 14-0 record, one win short of tying the best start in school history. Defending Ivy League Champion, Columbia came to town with a 2-5 record but took no prisoners in defeating the Tide.
Columbia won the opener 10-7, and then split a double header on Saturday, losing the opener 6-2 but bouncing back to trounce the home team 15-3. The series was scheduled to be play Friday-Saturday-Sunday but bad weather forced two games to be played on Saturday.
Game One: Lost 10-7
The Tide sent Grayson Hitt to the mound to start game one of the series to face Andy Leon for the Lions. Hitt gave up a leadoff single and stolen base in the first before ending the inning on a ground out and two strikeouts. The Tide went in order in the first before the Lions plated two runs in the second. A lead off walk to Anton Lazits was followed by a run scoring triple from Seth Dardar. A wild pitch by Hitt allowed Dardar to score. Bama cut the lead in half in the third after Tommy Seidl singled and advanced on a wild pitch before scoring on a single by Will Hodo.
Columbia added three runs in the fourth on three hits and two walks to make the score 5-1. Hitt walked a batter and gave up two hits in the top of the before being replaced by Brock Blatter. An RBI ground out and run scoring double followed In the bottom of the fourth Caden Rose hit a solo home run, his second of the season, to cut the lead to 5-2.
Blatter returned for the 5th and got in trouble with a single and two walks before being replace by Hunter Furtado. The Lions added two more runs to push the score to 7-2. Furtado pitched a scoreless 6th before getting in trouble in the 7th. After a lead off single the Lions put down a sacrifice bunt. Third baseman Colby Shelton fielded the bunt and threw it away, followed by a hit batter and RBI single. With the score 9-2 headed to the bottom half the Tide answered. Ed Johnson walked to start the inning before Shelton ripped a one out double. Hodo crushed a three run home run into the plaza to pull the Tide within striking distance at 9-5.
Connor Ball replaced Furtado to start the 8th and was greeted by a home run from Hayden Schott before getting out of the inning without any more damage. Bama tried to mount a rally in the bottom half. Jim Jarvis and Rose walked to open the inning. Mac Guscette smoked a liner down the third base line that Dardar made a spectacular play and turned a third to first double play. Johnson then tripled to score Jarvis, making the score 10-6.
Ball add a perfect 9th inning, bringing the Tide to the plate down four runs. Shelton started the inning with a walk, and advanced on a ground out by Hodo. Andrew Pinckney then walked, followed by a Baltimore chopper single by Drew Williamson to score Shelton. Jarvis popped out for out two before pinch hitter William Hamiter was hit by a pitch to load the bases and bring the winning run to the plate in the form of Guscette. On a 1-2 pitch Guscette hit a soft fly ball toward left field that Lion shortstop Andy Blake was able to run down and make a spectacular over the shoulder catch to end the game.
Bama hit 12-36 in the game with five walks, one hit batter, nine strikeouts, and left nine on base. Hodo hit 3-5 with four RBI and his third home run of the season. Williamson was 2-5 with a run driven in while Rose extended his on base streak to 32 games with his 1-3 night with a walk, a home run, and two runs scored. Hitt suffered the loss and fell to 2-1 on the season. Columbia hit 11-38 with seven walks, two hit batters, 16 strikeouts, and left 10 on base.
Game Two: Won 6-2
The Tide sent Ben Hess to the mound for the first game on Saturday. Hess was perfect through two innings before giving up a lead off double and RBI single in the third. The big right hander continued through the 5th inning, allowing three hits, walking one, striking out seven and allowing only the one run.
With Hess’s day done, ‘Bama’s offense woke up in the bottom of the 5th, scoring six times. Will Portera struck out to begin the inning but reached base when the ball got away from the catcher. Freshman phenom Colby Shelton followed with his 10th home run of the season to give Bama a lead of 2-1. Caden Rose singled, followed by walks to Andrew Pinckney and Drew Williamson to load the bases. Ed Johnson then crushed a grand slam home run over the left field fence to make the score 6-1 in Bama’s favor.
Riley Quick replaced Hess in the 6th and walked the first two batters he faced. A two out single scored one run in the frame to cut the lead to 6-2. Quick continued through the 8th inning, working out of a bases loaded jam on a pop out to shortstop Jim Jarvis.
The Tide had a smattering of base runners from the 6th to the 8th, but could not dent the scoreboard. Zane Probst pitched the 9th, allowing a single and a walk, but did not allow a run, leaving Bama with the 6-2 victory to set up the rubber game of the series.
The Tide hit 6-29 in the game with nine walks, one hit batters, four strikeouts, and nine left on base. Johnson and Shelton drove in all the runs with their home runs, and Rose was the only player with multiple hits at 2-3, and added two walks. Hess earned the win to improve to 3-0. Columbia hit 7-34 in the game, drew five walks, struck out 12 times, and left 10 on base.
Game Three: Lost 15-3
This one was a disaster from the start.
Jacob McNairy started for the Tide and immediately ran into trouble. Even though McNairy struck out three batters in the inning he allowed a walk, a single, and two doubles, allowing three runs. Columbia added one more in the 3rd on a lead off single, a ground ball and wild pitch to advance the runner, and a sacrifice fly.
Meanwhile, Lions pitcher Joe Sheets was slicing and dicing up the Bama lineup through three innings, facing the minimum with the help of a double play and a caught stealing.
The game went totally off the rails in the top of the 4th. McNairy faced four batters in the frame, retiring one while three reached on a walk, single, and a double, with all scoring. Alton Davis II was summoned from the bullpen and after two walks and three hits was pulled as well. Braylon Myers was next up and hit a batter and gave up three hits. By the time 15 batters had come to the plate the Lions had scored 11 runs to bury the Tide by a score of 15-0.
The Tide scored just once in the bottom of the 4th despite two doubles and a single in the inning. Colby Shelton led off with a double and scored on sacrifice fly by Andrew Pinckney. With two outs Drew Williamson singled and Caden Rose doubled, but neither made it homeward. The Tide scored one in the 6th, on a sacrifice fly from Will Hodo, and once in the 7h on a sacrifice fly by William Hamiter. This was despite having the bases loaded with one out.
Kade Woods and Brayden Gainey both pitched two scoreless innings, and were the only bright spot in the game. Wood allowed two hits and struck out three as did Gainey. The Tide hit 8-30 in the game with three walks, one hit batters, six strikeouts, and seven left on base. Shelton was 2-5 and Williamson 2-3 to lead the Bama offense. McNairy fell to 2-1 with the loss. Columbia hit 17-43, drew eight walks, had one hit batters, 11 strikeouts, and 12 left on base.
For the series Alabama hit 24-95 for a .252 average while walking 17 times, having four hit batters, striking out 19 times, and leaving 25 on base. Columbia hit 33-115 for a .286 average with 20 walks, four hit batters, 39 strikeouts, and 32 men left on base.
Not much to say about this series.
The Tide was riding high and might have under estimated the Lions. The stigma of an Ivy League team being able to play with a SEC member, along with Bama’s great start to the season, possibly led the team to have a bit of overconfidence.
Make no mistake Columbia can play and I would expect them to represent the Ivy League in the NCAA Tournament again this year.
Starting pitchers Grayson Hitt and Jacob McNairy did not give the Tide good starts, which they are going to have to have going forward. Hess was the only member of the rotation that had any success. The second game Saturday was the first game that Bama has been held without a home run, and they now have 38 long balls in 17 games. Rose increased his on base streak to 34 straight games dating back to last season. Shelton with 10 home runs is just five short of the school freshman record for a single season which is shared by Jeremy Brown and Ross Wilson.
Who Did What?
*Caden Rose 4-9, 3 runs, 3 walks, HBP, double, home run, RBI- has reached base in 34 straight games
*Will Hodo 4-8, 5 RBi, home run, sac fly, run
*Colby Shelton 4-14, 2 doubles, home run, 4 runs, two RBI
*Drew Williamson 4-10, double, 3 walks, 2 runs
*Ed Johnson 3-8, 6 RBI, triple, grand slam home run, walk, hit by pitch
*Ben Hess W (3-0) 5 IP 3 hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts, 1 run
A long road trip.
The team will leave for Mobile on Monday, with a game with South Alabama set for Tuesday night at 6:30 pm, which will be available on ESPN Plus.
After USA, the Tide will continue on to Gainesville for a Thursday-Saturday series with the highly ranked Florida Gators to start SEC play.
Thursday’s game will be at 6 p.m. on the SEC Network. Friday the game is at 6:30 and Saturday is a 3:00 first pitch. The later two games will be on SEC Network Plus.