You always hear about the SEC gauntlet with regard to football, but the Alabama Crimson Tide is in the midst of a gauntlet of their own at the start of the conference season. The Tide has traveled to number two Florida, hosted number 18 Kentucky, and traveled to number six Arkansas in the first three weeks of SEC play. Bama battled in all three series, with a chance to win each, but has only been able to pull one win per weekend thus far. After mauling Arkansas on Friday by a score of 12-1 the Tide had and lost leads in losing on Saturday (9-6) and Sunday by a score of 5-4. Bama is now 21-8 and 3-6 in league play while the Hogs improved to 23-5 and 6-3 in the SEC.
Game One - Won 12-1
Alabama sent Ben Hess to the mound for game one against Hunter Hollan for Arkansas. The Tide drew first blood in the second when Caden Rose doubled and scored on a single by Dominic Tamez. Tamez played for the Razorbacks in his freshman season. The Tide left the bases loaded in the inning. Arkansas tied the game in the bottom of the third when Kansas transfer Tavian Josenberger blasted a long home run to right field. Josenberger proved to be a thorn in the side of Bama all weekend.
Bama took the lead for good in the fourth. After Tamez lined out sharply to centerfield, freshman Colby Shelton hit his 12th home run of the season for the 2-1 lead. Tommy Seidl followed Shelton with a single and trotted home on the 6th home run of the season by Mac Guscette. Hess walked a batter and struck out two in a scoreless fourth and as the inning ended appeared to be shaking his arm coming off the field.
The Tide put the game away in the top of the 5th. Ed Johnson started things with a single in scored in front of Drew Williamson’s ninth round tripper of the season. Rose and Tamez followed with singles and Shelton walked to load the bases. The next two batters were retired before Jim Jarvis singled in two runs and Andrew Pinckney one of his own. By the time the inning ended Bama had sent 10 men to the plate and scored five runs.
With the big lead Hess was replaced by Hagan Banks in the bottom of the 5th. Banks tossed four perfect innings, allowing no hits or walks and striking out five. Bama added to the lead in the 7th on singles by Guscette and Pinckney and RBI singles from Johnson and Williamson. In the 9th the Tide got their final two runs on William Hamiter’s first home run of the season. Hamiter had entered the game for Rose in the 7th. Rose had missed three straight games with and did not appear to be at full speed in the game.
Banks was replaced by left-hander Conner Ball in the 9th inning. Ball had one runner reach on an error, allowed a single, and struck out two to end the game with the Tide on top 12-1. Hess was awarded the win and is now 4-0 on the season while Hollan fell to 4-1 with the loss. Tide hurlers held Arkansas to 3-30 in the game with two walks, 12 strikeouts, and five left on base.
Alabama hit 22-48 in the game with four home runs, two doubles, a stolen base, four walks, seven strikeouts, committed one error, and left 13 men on base. All 10 position players that went to the plate had at least one hit, and eight of the 10 scored at least one run. Williamson was 3-5 with a walk, two run, two RBI, and a home run. Rose finished 3-4 with a double and run scored, Seidl was 3-5 with a run, and Johnson was the fourth Tide player with three hits, hitting 3-6 with a double, a run, and a stolen base. Pinckney, Tamez, and Guscette all had two hits. Hamiter, Tamez, and Guscette all drove in two runs each. With that much traffic on the bases the Tide could have scored many more runs than they did.
Game Two- Lost 9-6
In game two the Tide sent sophomore right hander Luke Holman to face Will McIntire for the Razorbacks. Bama built a big lead, let that get way, got it back, and lost it again in the end. Alabama took the early lead when shortstop Jim Jarvis hit hit third home run of the season over the Arkansas weight room that sits behind the right field fence. The blast was measured at 416 feet with an exit velocity of 111 miles per hour.
The Tide jumped on McEntire in the top of the 4th, chasing him from the game with four straight hits and three runs. With one out Ed Johnson singled and advanced to third on a double by the suddenly powerful Jarvis. Dominic Tamez singled to scored Johnson and Jarvis scored on a wild pitch. William Hamitier lined a double down the right field line to bring Tamez to pay dirt. McEntire was replace by Dylan Carter, who stranded Hamiter with a strikeout and a line out to end the inning.
The Hogs finally got to Holman in the bottom of the 4th. Tavian Josenberger led off with a double but a pop out and strikeout it looked if Holman would escape the frame. A walk to Jace Bohrofen was followed by a three run home run from Kendall Diggs to close the margin to 4-3 in favor of the Tide. Bama stranded two runners in the top of the 5th when Jarvis was robbed of a three run home run by Tavian Josenberger. Jarvis hit a rocket to dead center field that Josenberger ran down, reached the wall, leapt, and reached over the fence to bring the drive back. In the bottom half Holman struck out the side of Hogs on 11 pitches. In the top of the 6th Josenberger struck again. Tamez led off with a single and when Hamiter hammered a ball in the right center gap, took off running. Somehow Josenberger ran the ball down and made a fantastic catch, and easily doubled Tamez off of first base.
Holman returned for the 6th and appeared to have a things under control. Josenberger lifted a pop up to third base that Tide third baseman Colby Shelton had trouble with in the wind. The ball fell and Josenberger was awarded a hit and quickly stole second base. After a fly out for out one, Holman was replaced by Riley Quick. Quick walked the first man he faced then gave up a single to Jace Bohrofen to tie the game at 4-4. Holman finished with 5.1 innings pitched, allowing three hits, two walks, four runs, and struck out eight.
Alabama retook the lead in the top of the 7th when Andrew Pinckney based his 4th home run of the season over the center field wall. The Tide missed a chance to add some insurance, stranding the bases loaded. Quick was back out for the 7th and allowed a single to begin the inning, then walked the next batter. Kade Woods was called into replace him. John Bolton laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners. That man, Josenberger, struck again, doubling to score both runners, but not before some excitement. In the middle of the at bat Woods threw a pitch that looked to be strike three, but it was called a ball. Bama coach Brad Bohannon was not a fan of the call and got his money’s worth in his argument before being thrown out of the game by home plate umpire Mark Winters. Bohannon helped the Arky fans call the Hogs as he left the game. After the double gave the Razorbacks a 6-5 lead, Woods recovered to end the inning with a strikeout and ground out.
The Tide battled back again, tying the game in the top of the 8th. Tommy Seidl singled to start the inning and moved up to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Will Portera. Portera had entered the game in the 7th inning as a defensive replacement for Colby Shelton. After the second out was recored Pinckney was intentionally walked to bring up Drew Williamson. Williamson doubled to scored Seidl and tie the game at 6-6.
In the bottom of the 8th Jace Bohrofen led off with a home run to give the Hogs the lead back at 7-6. Diggs walked to bring Caleb Cali to the plate. Cali hit a 1-2 pitch 456 feet almost out of the whole stadium to push the score to 9-6 for the Hogs. Zane Probst replaced Woods and go three outs to end the inning. The Tide went down meekly in the 9th and the series was sent to the rubber game on Sunday.
Alabama hit 15-40 in the game, had two walks with one hit batters, hit three doubles and two home runs, struck out nine times, and left 11 on base. Six Bama players had multi hit games with Seidl hitting 3-4 with double, stolen base, and run scored. Williamson was 3-5 with an RBI. Tamez finished 2-3 with a hit by pitch, run scored, and one driven in. Johnson was 2-3 with a walk and run scored, Pinckey was 2-4 with a home run and a walk, and Jarvis was 2-5 with two runs, a double, a home run, and one driven in. Woods was the losing pitcher and fell to 2-1. Arkansas hit 10-30, with five walks, 11 strikeouts, and three runners left on base. The Tide had more hits and more base runners but the telling statistic is the left on base differential.
Game Three- lost 5-4
Grayson Hitt drew the Sunday finale start for the Tide against Ben Bybee for the Razorbacks. Bybee retired the first two batters in the game before running into trouble. Jim Jarvis got the two out rally started with a double to left field. Andrew Pinckney and William Hamiter both walked to load the bases. Dominic Tamez singled to scored Jarvis and Pinckney. Colby Shelton then walked to load the bases and chase Bybee from the game. Cody Adcock replaced Bybee and induced a fly ball to strand the bases loaded and the score 2-0.
The Hogs started off with three straight singles in the bottom of the first and scored two of their own with the second run scoring on a wild pitch. In the top of the 5th Jarvis blasted his second home run of the weekend, this one off of the scoreboard and the Tide was back on top 3-2. Hitt was back out in the bottom of the 5th and lead off man Tavian Josenberger bunted out in front of the plate. Hitt fielded the ball and threw out Josenberger at first. At least he was initially called out, but on review was deemed safe.
At this point Garrett McMillian replaced Hitt on the mound. McMillian was the Tide’s Friday night starter last season but due to injury was making his season debut today. The first batter McMillian faced flew out to center field but the second one, Jared Wagner slugged a long home run to left field for a 4-3 Arkansas lead. McMillian recovery to record the next two outs and end the inning.
Again, the Tide battled back to tie the game in the top of the 6th. Mac Guscette singled to lead off, but was out at second as Tommy Seidl hit into a fielders choice. Seidl advanced to second on a wild pitch and to third son a fly out by Ed Johnson. The speedy Seidl scored on another wild pitch to tie the game at 4-4. McMillan retired the first batter in the bottom of the 6th before walking Harold Coll and allowing a single to Brady Slavens, putting runners on first and third. Braylon Myers was called in from the bullpen and allowed a single to Parker Rowland that scored what proved to be the winning run. Myers got a strikeout- third strike on a pitch clock violation on the batter- and a ground ball, ending the inning.
Alabama went down in order the the 7th, but got a single from Guscette and a walk to Ed Johnson in the 8th and could not get them home. Myers pitched scoreless innings in the 7th and 8th bringing the Tide to the plate for one last chance in the top of the 9th. Two groundouts and a strikeout sent Bama home on the short end of the 5-4 game and a series loss.
The Tide hit 7-35 in the game with six walks, five strikeouts, one double, one home run, one stolen base, and 10 left on base. Jarvis was 2-4 with the teams only two extra base hits, a walk, one driven in, and two runs scored. Guscette was the only other multi hit player at 2-4. Tamez drove in two runs with his one hit. McMillian was tagged with the loss. Arkansas out hit Alabama for the only time in the series at 9-33 with four walks, one home run, five strikeouts, and left eight on base.
Another almost series for the Tide as they had chances to win all three games, but came away with only one win. The bats were hot, but several opportunities were missed for additional runs. Bama hit a robust 41-123 over the weekend for a .333 batting average, walked 12 times, had a hit batter. struck out 21 times, and left 34 men on base. Tide pitchers held Arkansas to 22-93 for a .236 average, issued 11 walks, struck out 28 men, and stranded 16 runners on base. Things were set up for Bama to take a marquee series win on the road over a highly ranked opponent. The clutch hit or clutch pitch just didn't happen when needed. Arkansas rarely loses at home and it has been several years since they have lost a home SEC series. The Tide was on the cusp of making that happen. Bama had to play two of the three games without dynamic centerfielder Caden Rose who is banged up.
Who Did What ?
*Tommy Seidl 7-13, double, three runs, two stolen bases
*Ed Johnson 6-13, two runs, walk, stolen base, RBI
*Drew Williamson 6-14, two runs, two walks, three RBI, home run
*Jim Jarvis 5-13, two home runs, two doubles, four RBI, three walks, three runs
*Dominic Tamez 5-13, four RBI, two runs, hit by pitch
*Andrew Pinckney 4-14, two RBI, two runs, two walks, home run
*Ben Hess W (4-0) 4 IP, 2 hits, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts, one run
*Hagan Banks 4 IP 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 runs, 5 strikeouts
The Tide will start an eight game home stand on Tuesday when they host Troy at 6 p.m. The game can be seen on SEC Network Plus. Then the Mississippi State Bulldogs will come to town for a Thrusday-Saturday series. Thursday and Friday the games begin at 6 p.m. and Saturday’s tilt is set for 5 p.m. The first two games can be seen on SEC Network Plus while game three will be on ESPNU.
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch it