The Alabama Crimson Tide traveled to Baton Rouge to take on the top ranked LSU Tigers this past weekend. Bama entered the weekend on a five game SEC winning streak, evening their SEC mark at 9-9 and 30-12 overall. By the time the weekend was over the Bayou Bengals knew they were in a fight, but the number one team in the nation did just enough each day to win all three games. The Tide got zero innings out of their three weekend starting pitchers from just a month ago. Ben Hess left his start against Arkansas early on April 1, Luke Holman was a late scratch on Friday, and Grayson Hitt was lost for the season after his start against Mississippi State on April 8th. Shorthanded against the powerful Tigers is not a recipe for success. Bama battled their butts off but lost by scored of 8-6, 12-8, and 13-11. Alabama is now 30-15 overall and 9-12 in the SEC while LSU improved to 35-8 and 15-5 in conference play.
Game one- lost 8-6
The Tide sent emergency starter Hagan Banks to the mound to face the best pitcher in the country, LSU’s Paul Skenes. Banks was pressed into the starting spot when Luke Holman had some back tightness while getting ready for the game. Skenes is a 6’6” 250 pound transfer from Air Force that features an 100 mile per hour fast ball in his repertoire.
Through the first three innings Skenes allowed only singles to Andrew Pinckney and Ed Johnson, while striking out six batters. Banks allowed a solo home run to Tommy White in the bottom of the second. White, known as Tommy Tanks, is one of the college baseball’s premier power hitters, having led the nation in home runs as a freshman at NC State last year.
In the third inning Banks allowed a single and walked a batter with two outs to bring Dylan Crews to the plate. Crews is widely considered the best player in the country and the likely number one overall pick in this summers MLB draft. Crews blasted his 12th home run of the season and the Tigers took a lead of 4-0.
Pinckney gave the Tide some life in the top of the 4th by slamming a lead off home run, his 9th of the season, and 5th in his last six games. Colby Shelton touched Skenes for a two out double in the frame but was stranded after a strikeout. Banks was replaced by Louisiana native Kade Woods to begin the 4th inning. Woods didn't allow a run in the 4th or 5th before running into trouble in the 6th. Cade Beloso walked to start the inning and advanced on a double by Jordan Thompson. Woods rebounded with a strikeout and a fly out and looked like he might escape without any damage. Another walk loaded the bases and brought Aidan Moza out of the bullpen to replace Woods. Moza hit the first batter he faced, then walked the next two to force in three runs. A fly out ended the carnage and the score stood at 7-1 after six innings.
Skenes ended his night after 109 pitches in six innings, allowing five hits, one run, with no walks and nine strikeouts. Griffin Herring replaced Skenes and had a scoreless 7th inning but allowed a run in the 8th after Pinckey doubled, one of his five hits in the game, and scored on a single by Dominic Tamez. The Tigers scored in the bottom of the 7th without the aid of a hit on a hit batter, two walks, and a squeeze bunt.
The Tide had a big rally in the top of the 9th. Herring struck out the lead off man then ran into trouble. Will Portera worked the Tide’s first walk of the game, and Johnson followed with the second. Another strikeout left Bama with one out to work with. Tommy Seidl ripped a double to score one run, and Pinckney singled in two more runs. Drew Williamson also singled to chase Herring in favor of Bryce Collins. Tamez greeted Collins with an RBI single to bring the go ahead run to the plate, the Tide’s leading home run hitter, Shelby. Collins was able to strike out Shelton to end the game and the rally came up just short.
Bama hit 12-40 in the game, drew two walks, struck out 15 times, and left nine men on base. The Tide had three doubles and one home run. Pinckney tied a school record with his 5-5 game, including a double and home run, scoring three times and driving in three. Tamez was 2-5 with two driven in and Johnson was 2-3 with a run scored. Banks was the losing pitcher and is now 1-1 on the season. LSU hit 8-31, drew eight walks, had two hit batters, struck out seven times, and left 10 on base. The Tigers committed the games only error, had one double two home runs, and a sacrifice bunt. Crews improved his average to .485 and drove in four runs on his 2-4 night with a walk and home run.
Game Two - lost 12-8
Alabama started Garrett McMillian on the mound against the Tigers Ty Floyd in game two. The Tide jumped out to an early lead when lead off man Jim Jarvis homered on the third pitch of the game. Tommy Seidl followed Jarvis with a double, and advanced When Andrew Pinckney reached on an error. With one out Dominic Tamez doubled to score Seidl. With runners on second and third, a strike out and ground out left them both stranded.
McMillian pitched a scoreless 1st but gave up one run in the second when he loaded the bases with no outs on a walk, single, and hit batter. The inning was not without excitement. Jordan Thompson lifted a foul ball pop up behind the plate the Tamez gathered in near the backstop. For some reason the umpire ruled that the ball had hit the screen before Tamez caught it-which it clearly didn't- which rendered the catch null. Coach Brad Bohannon asked for a review and the call was upheld. Bohannon argued the call and review and home plate umpire Joe Harris, who seemed to be looking for a fight, tossed Bohannon from the game. Since this was the head mans second ejection of the year he would not allowed to coach on Sunday. Thompson was then hit by a pitch and eventually scored. The run scored on a double play and a strikeout out ended the inning with Bama ahead 2-1.
In the top of the third the Tide chased Floyd with a huge two out rally. After two fly outs to start Tamez and Colby Shelton both walked. Caden Rose laced an RBI double for one run. Jaxson West walked to load the bases before Ed Johnson hit a two run single. Jarvis singled following Johnson but a pop out by Seidl ended the inning with the Tide adding four runs for a 6-1 lead. McMillian got the first out in the bottom of the third on a ground out but then hit lead off man Gavin Dugas and walked Tre Morgan. Dylan Crews fly ball was caught for out two, but Tommy White blasted a three run home run to cut the lead to 6-4.
Pinckney lead off the top of the 4th with his 10th home run of the year, which would be the Tide’s last hit until the 8th inning. McMilian pitched a perfect fourth inning before being replaced in the 5th by Riley Quick. Quick had a 1-2-3 5th inning before running into trouble in the 6th. A leadoff walk and a single put two on with no outs. A potential double play ground ball was botched by the Tide on a bad throw, allowing one run to score and leaving two on base. After a fly out Alton Davis II was called on the replace Quick. Tiger catcher Hayden Travinski greeted Davis with a long three run home run and just like that the 7-4 lead was now an 8-7 deficit.
In the top of the 8th the Tide tied the game when Seidl singled, stole second base, went to third on a Pinckney single, and scored on a wild pitch. Again with two on and one out, Bama could not add another run. LSU added a single run in the 8th on two singles and squeeze bunt to go ahead 9-8. The Tigers put the game away in the bottom of the 8th on two run home run from Jared Jones and an RBI single from Crews. The Tide couldn't muster anything in the 9th and took the 12-8 loss, after holding leads of 6-1 and 7-4.
Bama hit 9-37 in the game with eight walks, 10 strikeouts, 10 men left on base, committed two errors, hit three doubles and two home runs. The first three batters in the order had two hits each. Jarvis was 2-4 with a walk, an RBI, run scored and his 6th home run. Seidl finished 2-4 with a walk, a double, and two runs scored. Pinckney was 2-5 with his 10th home run. Johnson drove in two runs with his one hit. Davis was the losing pitcher, falling to 1-1.
The Tigers hit 10-33 with four walks, two hit batters, five strikeouts, and four men left on base. Crews and White were a combined 5-8 with four runs, and five RBI. Javen Coleman was the winning pitcher. After throwing only three innings all year Coleman pitched 2.1 hitless, scoreless, innings with three walks and six strikeouts.
Game Three- lost 13-11
In a wild affair the Tide lose 13-11 as another late rally fell short. Jacob McNairy took the mound for Bama against Vanderbilt transfer Christian Little for the Tigers. The Tide took the early lead, but let a golden chance slip through their fingers. Jim Jarvis led off the game with a single and with one out Andrew Pinckney and Drew Williamson both walked to load the bases. Dominic Tamez hit a line drive to left field that Tre Morgan misplayed and dropped. Jarvis raced home while Pinckney was held at third. Williamson held up at first to see if the ball was caught and was passed by Tamez, causing Tamez to be called out. A fly ball ended the once promising inning with only one run on the board.
McNairy hit Morgan with one out in the bottom of the 1st, but when striking out Dylan Crews Morgan was called out trying to steal on batters interference. McNairy retired the first two batters in the second before allowing a single to Jordan Thompson. Jared Jones then blasted a 425 foot home run to give the Tigers a lead of 2-1. Crews hit his 13th home run of the season in the third to increase the lead to 3-1.
In the 4th the Tide retook the lead back. Colby Shelton led off the inning being hit by a pitch and came all the way home on a double by Ed Johnson. Jarvis doubled home Johnson with one out and scored on a sacrifice fly by Pinckney. McNairy had a scoreless bottom of the 4th, and Bama added to their lead in the 5th.
Drew Williamson knocked his 11th home run of the season to start the inning. Tamez walked and moved up on a single by Shelton. Johnson reached on an error, allowing Tamez to score and Shelton came home on a sacrifice fly from Mac Guscette.
Armed with a 7-3 lead McNairy returned for the 5th inning. An two base error to start the inning was an ominous sign. The second batter walked and McNairy was replaced by Hunter Furtado. Furtado faced four batters, allowing two singles and walking two before being replaced by Zane Probst. After walking the first batters to force in another run a sacrifice fly to center field was the first out of the inning. Another walk brought in Hunter Hoopes to replace Probst. A short fly ball to right field looked to be out two but Pinckney lost the ball in the sun and it fell in for a single and run driven in. A strikeout and pop out finally ended the nightmare inning where five runs scored on five walks, an error, a sacrifice fly, and three singles.
Behind 9-7 entering the 6th the Tide fought back with one run when Tamez drove home Seidl, who had singled, with a sacrifice fly. Hoopes had a scoreless 6th aided by a double play turned by Jarvis and Johnson. Bama tied the game in the 7th when Shelton singled and scored on a two out double from Jarvis. Seidl was hit by a pitch and Pinckney walked to load the bases, but a Williamson strikeout left the bases loaded and the score 9-9.
The Tigers answered with two of their own in the botton for the 7th. Hoopes got two quick outs before a double and single chased him from the game. Zane Probst replaced Hoopes and hit the first batter he faced to load the bases, before walking the next two he faced, both forcing in runs. Guscette was hurt on a ball in the dirt during Probst first batter faced and was down for several minutes before trying to get to his feet. The catcher collapsed and after a while was helped up before buckling again. The training staffs of both teams helped him off the field and by all reports and medical treatment is going to be okay. Braylon Myers was called in and recorded the third out on a fly ball to left field.
LSU got solo home runs from Thompson and Paxton Kling in the 8th to make the score 13-9. The Tide again but a scare in the Tigers in the 9th. Johnson singled to lead off the inning and then scored on a two out home run from Seidl, over the center field wall. Pinckney reached on a dropped pop up by Jones at first base. Williamson came up as the potential tying run by flew out to left field to end the game on the bad end of a 13-11 score.
The Tide hit 10-35 in the game with seven walks, three hit batters, 10 strikeouts, and 11 left on base. Bama had two home runs and three doubles among their hits and also had four sacrifice flies. Seidl was 3-5 with two RBI, two runs scored, a hit by pitch, and his 6th home run of the year. Jarvis was also 3-5 with two runs, two RBI, two doubles, and a walk. Tamez drove in two with two sacrifice flies and walked twice. Johnson finished 2-5 with two runs and one driven in and Shelton scored three runs. Hoopes was the losing pitcher and is 1-1 on the year. Bama hits 31-112 for a .276 average on the weekend, drew 17 walks, had three hit batters, 35 strikeouts, and 30 men left on base. Fourteen of the hits were for extra baes with nine doubles and five home runs.
LSU hit 10-32 with nine walks, three hit batters, struck out seven times and left eight men on base. Four home runs and one double accounted for half of the Tigers hits in the game. Riley Cooper improved to 3-2 with the win. LSU hit 28-96 for a .291 weekend average with 21 walks, seven hit batters, 19 strikeouts, and 22 left on base.
What could have been. The Tide battled but just couldn't keep up with the powerful Tigers. LSU took care of any mistake and Bama walked allowed entirely too many free bases against an elite team. Tiger batters bounced on any mistakes, hitting nine home runs in the series, most with runners on base. The Tide bullpen had a dismal performance, pitching a total of 13 innings, allowing 19 hits, 18 walks, three hit batters, and 20 runs, 19 of which were earned for a 13.15 ERA. When facing such a juggernaut of a team you need all your weapons and Bama just didn't have all the arms they needed for the weekend. LSU is number one for a reason and definitely will be a strong contender to make another trip to the College World Series.
Who Did What?
*Andrew Pinckey 7-12, two home runs (11), double, two walks, hit by pitch, four runs, five RBI, sac fly, tied school record of five hits in a game with his 5-5 game on Friday. The record is held by many
*Tommy Seidl 6-14, five runs, three RBI, two doubles, home run (6), walk, hit by pitch, stolen base
*Jim Jarvis 5-14, two doubles, home run (6), three runs, three RBI, two walks
*Ed Johnson 5-13, three runs, three RBI, double, walk
*Dominic Tamez 3-9, four walks, two sac flies, five RBI, two runs
What is next?
No mid week game on finals week, but a Thursday, Friday, Saturday visit from the 5th ranked Vanderbilt Commodores. The games are at 7 p.m on Thursday for an ESPNU tilt, 7 p.m on Friday on the SEC Network, and at 2 p.m. Saturday for the final game which will be on the SEC Network Plus. Hopefully the Tide will have some of their pitchers back to help try to take down the always powerful Commodores. Bama needs to secure 4-5 more SEC wins over their last three series.