The 20th ranked Alabama baseball team swept Illinois-Chicago this weekend to improve to 12-0 on the season, and are now the only undefeated team in the SEC. The Tide took run rule victories on Friday and Saturday by scores of 11-1 and 10-0 before a feisty Flames team made the team work full time on Sunday in a game that ended with a 9-7 score. Grand slam home runs played a big part in the sweep.
Game One -Won 11-1 (7 innings)
The Crimson Tide sent left hander Grayson Hitt to the mound to start Friday night’s game. The game was originally slated for 3 p.m. but was pushed to 6 p.m. because of weather conditions. Thus this game was the Tide’s first under the lights this season.
Hitt walked the lead off man for ICU but retired the next three hitters in the top of the first. Bama did all the damage they needed in the bottom half, scoring five times with only one hit. The first two batters struck out before starting pitcher Kade Lancour became his own worst enemy, walking four straight batters. The fourth walk was to Jim Jarvis which drove in a run for the Tide. Tommy Seidl then took a 1-1 pitch the other way for a grand slam into the right field plaza and a quick 5-0 lead.
Hitt worked around two one hits singles in the second. The Tide added two more in the bottom half on a solo home run from freshman Colby Shelton and a run scoring double from Andrew Pinckney. Flame catcher Cole Conn hit a home run leading off the third to cut the lead to 7-1.
Bama scored next in the fifth, without the aid of a hit. Jarvis and Seidl were both hit by pitches and advanced on a wild pitch. On a fly out to left field UIC was careless throwing the ball back to the pitcher and heads up base running by Jarvis allowed the shortstop to scoot home for run number eight.
Hagan Banks took over on the mound for Hitt in the 6th. The sophomore right hander allowed a bunt single but struck out two in the frame. The Tide scored four in the bottom half. Shelton led things off with his second long home run of the game. With the bases loaded Seidl dropped a hit into right field to score two more. Banks had a perfect 7th with two more strikeouts and with the run rule agreed upon by the coaches before the series, the Tide had the 11-1 victory.
Bama hit 10-25 in the game with seven walks, three hit batters, eight strikeouts, and left six on base. UIC hit 5-26 with three walks, nine strikeouts, and seven left on base. Seidl led the way for the Tide with his 2-3 day with his grand slam and single driving in six runs. The hot shot freshman Shelton was 2-4 with two solo home runs. Caden Rose was 2-3 and kept his consecutive on base streak intact at 28 games. Hitt was the winner, improving to 2-0 by pitching five innings, allowing four hits, walking three, striking out five and allowing one run. Lancour fell to 2-1 with the loss.
Game Two Won- 10-0 (7 Innings)
The Tide sent big right hander Ben “Heater” Hess to the mound on Saturday and he was more than the Flames could handle. Hess threw a dominating 5.2 innings, allowing one hit with three walks and eight strikeouts. Offensively the Tide started slowly but poured it on late for another run rule win.
The only hit Hess surrendered was a single in the 4th to Charlie Szykowny. Hess quickly picked him off first base and in the 5th the Illinois native struck out all three men he faced. The Tide finally dented the scoreboard in the bottom of the 5th. With two outs Shelton hit his third home run of the weekend to break the scoreless tie. Ed Johnson reached on a single and trotted home in front of an opposite field bomb off the bat of Andrew Pinckney.
Hess began the 6th inning and after two quick outs gave way to freshman left hander Alton Davi II. Davis walked the first man he faced but then got a fly out to end the inning. In the bottom of the inning Bama poured on six more runs. Jim Jarvis doubled and scored on a single by Dominic Tamez. Bryce Eblin singled and Caden Rose walked- keeping his on base streak alive at 29-to load the bases. Shelton stepped up and drove the first pitch he saw into the right field plaza for a grand slam, and his fourth long ball of the weekend. William Hamiter drove in Johnson with a sacrifice fly for the final run of the inning.
Davis returned for the 7th and after hitting first batter got a fly out and double play ball to send the game to the bottom half with the Tide needing one run to end the game. Jaxson West led off the inning by walking and advanced to third on a double by Mason Swinney. Max Williams laced a double to score West and end the game with the score 10-0. West, Swinney, and Williams are all members of the freshman class with Shelton.
The Tide hit 13-31 in the game with five walks, three strikeouts, and eight men left on base. Shelton was the story with his 2-4 day with two home runs, five RBI, and two runs scored. Pinckney finished 2-3 with a home run, two RBI, and a run scored. Tamez was 2-3 with a run and one run driven in and Johnson was 2-4 with two runs. Hess was the winner, improving tp 2-0 with his sparkling effort. Davis was awarded his first save with 1.1 hitless, scoreless innings. ICU hit 1-19 in the game with four walks, eight strikeouts, and three men left on base.
Game Three-Won 9-7
Jacob McNairy took the mound for the Tide in game three. The Flames scored in the first after a hit batter, a walk, and a single, to take their first lead of the weekend. Illinois-Chicago added a second run in the second after a ground ball double play to make the score 2-0. In the bottom of the second Bama loaded the bases on a walk to William Hamiter, a hit by pitch to Mac Guscette, and a single by Camden Hayslip. Oh momma, there goes that man again! Colby Shelton strode to the plate and hit another grand slam, his fifth home run of the weekend and second grand slam. Drew Williamson followed one out later with his fifth home run of the season, a laser line drive in the plaza in right.
McNairy ran into trouble in the top of the 4th. Three straight hits scored one run and a three run home run plated the others, chasing McNairy in favor of Brock Blatter. Blatter allowed a double to his first hitter, but struck out the next man to end the inning. The Tide added two in the bottom half on RBI singles by Jim Jarvis and Hamiter. Hamiter was thrown out trying to advance on the throw in.
Blatter hit a batter and allowed a double in the 5th but used a strikeout and ground out to thwart the rally. Bama tried to add to the lead in the bottom half after Shelton singled and Williamson reached on a fielders choice. Williamson was thrown out at the plate after a single by Will Hodo. The Flames third pitcher of the game, Tyler Ingram pitched a very impressive 4.1 innings allowing only two hits with one walk and no runs allowed.
Riley Quick pitched the 6th and worked around a bases loaded situation with a strikeout and fly out. Zane Probst took over in the 7th and had a dominate inning, striking out all three batters he faced. Connor Ball began the 8th inning and after three hits and a run scored was replaced by Braylon Myers. Myers notched a strikeout and got a fly out to strand the tying runs on base. Myers also tossed the 9th inning and allowed a harmless single and ended the game with a high pop out to Shelton at third base.
The Tide hit 13-33 in the game, had four walks, two hit batters, struck out three times, and left eight on base. Once again Shelton was the story with his 2-5 day with four driven in with his second grand slam of the weekend. Hodo was 3-4 with a walk and a run scored. Hamiter was 2-3 with two runs, a walk, and an RBI. Guscette had one official at bat, his two run home run, but also was hit twice and walked once and scored two runs. Probst was the winning pitcher and his 1-0 on the season while Myers earned his third save of the season.
The Flames had by far their best game of the weekend, hitting 15-41 with three walks, two hit batters, 11 strikeouts, and 12 men left on base. Ryan Karst fell to 0-1 with the loss.
Overall Bama hits 37-89 for a .415 average, walked 16 times, had six hit batters, struck out 16 times, and left 22 men on base. ICU hit 21-86 for a .244 average, with 15 of the hits on Sunday. The Flames walked 10 times, had two hit batters, struck out 28 times, and left 22 men on base.
The Tide took care of business again against an overmatched opponent. You have to give the Flames credit for battling on Sunday the way they did after two losses that they were dominated in. Once again Coach Brad Bohannon was able to play a large number of players, 18 on the position side and 10 pitchers while still securing victories. Bama is three wins away from tying the best start in school history at 15-0.
Bama has now hit grand slams in four straight games for the first time in school history- Camden Hayslip on Wednesday, Tommy Seidl on Friday, and Colby Shelton on Saturday and Sunday. Shelton has a nine game hitting streak with seven home runs and 16 RBI with 11 runs scored. Caden Rose entered the game late on Sunday and had a sacrifice bunt in his only appearance, keeping his 29 game on base streak alive. The Tide has hit 25 home runs in 12 games and has a team batting average of .368 and his averaging just over 10 runs a game. The pitching staff has an ERA of 1.89 and has allowed 79 hits in 100 innings with 39 walks and 117 strikeouts.
Who Did What:
*Colby Shelton, should earn player of the week honers: 6-13, five home runs, two grand slam, five runs, 11 RBI
*Willaimson 3-8, Home run, three walks, two runs, RBI
*Tommy Seidl 2-5, grand slam six RBI, HPB, two walks
*Andrew Pinckney 3-10, home run, double, three runs, three RBI
*Ben Hess W (2-0) 5.1 innings pitched, one hit, three walks, eight strikeouts, 0 runs
*Grayson W (2-0) 5 innings pitched, four hits, three walks, five strikeouts, one run
*Zane Probst W (1-0) 1 inning pitched, three strikeouts 0 runs
*Braylon Myers S (3) 1.2 innings pitched, one hit, two strikeouts, 0 runs
A road trip on Tuesday to Birmingham to take on the Samford Bulldogs at 6 p.m. followed by a 6 p.m. game at home on Wednesday with Alabama State. Both can be seen on the ESPN app. Ivy League Champ Columbia come to town for a three game series on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in games that are scheduled for 6 p.m., 2 p.m. and 1 p.m. All can be seen on SEC Network Plus.