The Crimson Tide baseball team, fresh off a sweep over Missouri this past weekend, earned their 30th victory of the season on Tuesday night. Bama took care of the visiting Samford Bulldogs by a score of 13-6 at Sewell Thomas Stadium. Alabama football coach Nick Saban threw out the first pitch prior to the game. Saban was a football and baseball star at Kent State University in his college days. The Tide now is 30-12 on the year while the Bulldogs fell to 22-19. Bama is now 11-1 in midweek games this season. The win was a nice tune-up for the team as they head to Baton Rouge this weekend to take on the top ranked LSU Tigers.
With pitching injuries mounting and LSU looming, Tide coach Brad Bohannon decided to go with a bullpen game on the mound. Bama used seven pitchers in the game with senior Brayden Gainey being the opener. Samford countered with Jacob Newman on the mound.
Gainey tossed two scoreless innings and was replaced by Hunter Hoopes to begin the third inning. Through three innings Newman had faced the minimum of nine batters and only used 24 pitches to do so. Drew Williamson singled to start the third but a double play followed. Hoopes allowed Samford a lead off double in the third, but stranded the runner on third. In the top of the fourth Hoopes allowed a two out single, but stranded the runner.
In the bottom of the fourth the Tide finally got to Newman. Jim Jarvis led the inning off by being hit by a pitch. Tommy Seidl followed with a dribbler for a single. Jarvis and Seidl took off on a double steal, both reaching safely. However, Andrew Pinckney was called out at the plate on an interference call and the runners had to return to their previous base. Williamson lined a single to score Jarvis, and Dominic Tamez hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield, allowing Seidl to cross the plate for the 2-0 lead.
Braylon Myers followed Hoopes to the hill for the Tide and had a quick 1-2-3 inning in the fifth. Ed Johnson crushed a solo home run for Bama in the bottom of the fifth to push the lead to 3-0. Myers ran into trouble in the sixth, allowing lead off single to Jayden Davis and a one out home run to John Anderson to make the score 3-2. Lucas Steele followed Anderson with a long ball of his own and, suddenly, the game was tied. With two outs, Myers was replaced by Aidan Moza, who struck out Josh Rodriguez to end the uprising.
As good teams do, the Tide answered in the bottom of the sixth. Seidl started the inning with a walk and was sacrificed to second on a perfect bunt by Pinckney. Williamson drew a walk and after a strikeout for out two, Colby Shelton lined his 16th home run of the season into the right field plaza for a 6-3 lead. The long ball by Shelton gave him the school record for single season home runs by a freshman, breaking a tie with Jeremy Brown (of Moneyball fame) and Ross Wilson. Caden Rose walked, following Shelton, and scored from first on a pop fly double by Johnson that fell in no mans land.
Moza retired the first two batters in the seventh before allowing a solo home run to Garrett Staton. A ground out ended the inning. Bama answered with a run of their own in the bottom half. Jarvis led off with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by Seidl. Connor Ball took over on the mound for the Tide in the top of the eighth, and struck out the first two batters he face. A walk and single followed to chase Ball in favor of Zane Probst. Rodriguez greeted Probst with a single to load the bases. Aaron Walton crushed a ball to left that looked like it may leave the park, but it fell just short of the fence in left field. Seidl grabbed the ball and fired to his cut off man Jarvis. Jarvis whirled and threw a perfect strike to Mac Guscette at the plate to cut down the Rodriguez, who was trying to score from first. Two runs did cross the plate and the Tide lead was cut to 8-6.
Again Bama answered in the bottom half of the inning. Tamez doubled to being the inning, and was replaced by pinch runner Ryan Guardino. Shelton then doubled to score Guardino and was also replaced by a runner, Will Portera. With one out Portera advanced to third base on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly to centerfield by Johnson. Guscette legged out an infield single and moved to third on a single by Jarvis. Jarvis stole second and then both trotted home on a nuke of a home run by Seidl to dead centerfield. The ball went out with a 107 miles per hour exit velocity and traveled 415 feet. Jake Leger took the mound in the top of the ninth for Bama for the first time since opening weekend. Leger has been dealing with an injury and it is good to see him back. Hayden Perry led the inning off with a single but a double play and line out ended the game with the Tide on the good side of a 13-6 win.
The Tide hit 12-31 in the game with three doubles, one triple, and three home runs. Bama walked only three times, had one hit batter, struck out four times, and left only two men on base. Five players had multi hit games led by Seidl at 2-3 with three runs, four runs driven in, his 6th home run, a walk, and a sacrifice fly. Shelton also drove in four on his 2-4 night with a home run and a double. Johnson was 2-3 with one run, three RBI. a home run and a double. Jarvis scored three times on his 2-4 game with his triple and single and reached on a hit by pitch. Williamson showed signs of breaking out of his funk of the last few games and was 2-3 with a walk, a run, and a run driven in. Moza was the winning and is now 1-1 on the year.
Samford hit 12-36 with two doubles and three home runs. The Bulldogs walked two times, struck out nine times, and left five on base. Turner Thompson was the losing pitcher and his now 1-1 on the season.
Bama started slowly, not scoring until the fourth inning, but scored in every frame the rest of the game. A good win against a decent Samford team gave Bama a sweep of the two game season series. The Tide staff was able to get several pitchers some needed game action. Hoopes saw action for the first time this season in the Missouri series and another tune up for him will only help going forward. Leger was expected to be a stalwart this season as one of the few experienced left handers out of the bullpen. Gainey started for the first time in his Alabama career and turned in two scoreless innings.
Everyone up and down the lineup contributed and with seven of the 13 hits going for extra bases. The defense played flawlessly, with no errors, two double plays turned, and the nice throw out of the Bulldog runner at the plate. The Tide will have to hit on all cylinders this weekend in Baton Rouge to compete with the Bayou Bengals. LSU lost tonight to Nichols State so a bunch of angry, hungry, Tigers will be waiting to greet Bama.
The games are at 6 p.m on Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. Friday will be shown on the SEC Network while the other two games will be available on SEC Network Plus.