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Scorching ‘Bama Baseball Advance in SEC Tourney Behind Pinckney, Furtado

The 9th-seeded Alabama Crimson Tide defeated No. 8 Kentucky 4-0 in their SEC tourney opener

Syndication: Tuscaloosa News
Andrew Pinckney continues to shine for the Crimson Tide.
Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa News / USA TODAY NETWORK

Hoover time is is ‘Bama time. As Parker observed today, Bama Baseball has had its share of problems, butTuesdays in Hoover is usually Alabama’s time to shine.

The Alabama Crimson, the 9th-seed in the SEC Tournament, took down 8th seeded Kentucky 4-0 on Tuesday evening at the Hoover Met. The Tide improved to 39-17 overall while the Cats fell to 36-18.

UK carried an RPI of 2 coming into the game. The win moves Bama one step closer to grabbing a hosting spot in the NCAA Tournament, which begins next week.

Offensively, Andrew Pinckney was the story. On the mound, The Tide got an outstanding start from Hunter Furtado, and stellar relief outings from Kade Woods and Alton Davis II led the team to victory.

Pinckney was honored pre-game at home plate after being named Co-Scholar SEC Athlete of the Year, as well as 2nd team All-SEC. Alabama improved to 9-2 under interim coach Jason Jackson, with eight of the wins (and the two losses) against SEC teams.

How it happened:

Furtado made just his second start of the season in his 16th appearance and faced off against 7th year senior Darren Williams for the Wildcats. On a cool, damp night offense was at a premium in the game and the score was 0-0 after three innings. The Cats threatened in the bottom of the second but were shutdown on some heroics by Pinckney. Devin Burkes led off with a hustling double before Jase Felker tried to sacrifice bunt him to third. Furtado induced a pop up which he grabbed out of the air for out one, but then wheeled and tried to double Burkes off of second. However the ball sailed into centerfield and the runner ended up at third with one out. Reuben Church hit a fly ball to fairly deep right field that Pinckney snared and threw an absolute rocket to the plate to cut down Burkes on a close play at the plate.

Bama catcher Mac Guscette was shaken up on the play but held onto the ball for the inning ending double play. Guscette was able to continue playing.

Bama scored twice in the top of the fourth. Tommy Seidl led the inning off reaching on a hit by pitch. With one out Pinckney blasted his 16th home run of the season over the right-center field fence for a 2-0 lead.

Colby Shelton followed with a drive that looked like it might leave the yard, but was hauled in with centerfielder Jackson Gray backed against the wall. Furtado stranded two runners in the third and had a perfect fourth inning.

Guscette backed the left fielder against the wall in the top of the fifth on another drive that the cool night wouldn't let carry out of the park. The Tide added on in the top of the sixth, but had a chance to really blow the game wide open. Seidl led off with a single and moved to third on a ringing double by Drew Williamson. Pinckney got an RBI on a ground ball to third, and also reached as the throw was off target, putting runners at 2nd and 3rd with no outs. Cat pitcher Mason Moore bared down and struck out the next three batters when almost anything in play would have added another insurance run.

Kade Woods took over on the mound for the Tide in the sixth and allowed two hits with a walk, but didn't allow UK to score. With two on in the bottom of the seventh, Woods punctuated his outing with a swinging strike out with the tying run at the plate.

Bama used a two-out rally in the top of the eighth to score the last run of the game. Pinckney laced a ball down the third base line for a double before Shelton walked. Ed Johnson had a great eight pitch at bat and looped a single to score Pinckney.

With a four run lead coach Jackson called on closer Alton Davis II to handle the last two innings. Davis allowed a one out single in the eighth but escaped after a strikeout and fly out. Nolan McCarthy had a one out pinch hit single in the ninth but a sharply hit ground ball to Jim Jarvis at short stop turned into a game inning double play.

The Tide hit 7-35 in the game with one walk, one hit batter, 11 strikeouts, and six men left on base. Pinckney finished 2-4 with three RBI, a double and home run and scored twice. Johnson was the only other multi hit player at 2-4 with a run driven in. Seidl was 1-3 with a HBP and scored twice. Furtado improved to 1-1 with the win and allowed only two hits in five innings with two walks and two strikeouts.

The Cats hit 6-30 in the game with three walks, one hit batter, five strikeouts, and seven left on base. Ryan Walderschmidt was 2-2 with a walk, hit by pitch, and two stolen bases to lead the offense. Williams was the loser and fell to 4-2 on the season.

What does it mean and what is next:

The Tide now has at minimum four chances to reach 40 wins for the first time since the 2010 team finished 42-25. Almost certainly the team has secured a host spot for the first time since 2016.

With the win, Bama enters the double elimination portion of the tournament and will play Florida on Wednesday in a game scheduled for 4:30 p.m. CT, and then would have at least two games in regional play.

You can't say enough about how the team has responded to the adversity they faced just three short weeks ago. If indeed this is a tryout of sorts for Jackson as head coach, he is passing in spades.

Athletic Director Greg Byrne has been omnipresent around the program ever since he let head coach Brad Bohannon go - on the day of the first game of the Vanderbilt series - so he has had a front row seat to how Jackson and the team have responded.

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