With all the turmoil and controversy swirling nationally and on Bryant Drive around the Alabama baseball program, the team could have folded their tents and mailed in the rest of the season. However, these young men aren't about giving up even with coach Brad Bohannon dismissed concerning gambling implications on Thursday morning. Erik has the story on that situation here.
With a game scheduled for 7 p.m. that night, and pitching coach Jason Jackson inserted in the head role just hours prior to first pitch, things set up for the Tide to fold in the glare of the unknown, while facing the No. 3/5 Vanderbilt Commodores.
‘Bama had not won a series from Vandy since the 2012 season, and last won a game vs the Dores in 2015. (Although the Tide and Commodores do not play every season since they are in different divisions).
Despite things stacked against them, including feeling betrayed by their head coach, the Tide showed resilience and maturity in taking the series two games-to-one. Bama won the opener 11-2, lost on Friday 4-1, then came back on Saturday and won a thrilling 2-1 game, surviving a bases-loaded jam in the top of the 9th to take the incredible win and clinching the series.
Game One: W 11-2
Luke Holman was back from his tight back and started on the mound on the Tide against the Commodores left hander Carter Holton. Holman retired the first two batters in the game but was touched for a solo home run by RJ Schreck before recording out three on a fly out. The Tide answered with one of their own in the bottom of the 1st. Jim Jarvis reached on an error, and advance on a one out walk to Andrew Pinckney. Drew Williamson singled to load the bases before Jarvis sprinted home on a sacrifice fly by Dominic Tamez. Bama couldn't push anyone else homeward in the inning.
Holman had an easy one, two, three inning in the 2nd before the Tide broke things open in the bottom half of the frame. Ed Johnson was hit by a pitch to start the inning and was forced at 2nd on a Caden Rose ground ball. With two outs Jarvis singled followed by a walk to Tommy Seidl, bringing the scorching hot Andrew Pinckney to the plate. Pinckney drove a 3-2 pitch deep over the left field fence for a grand slam and a 5-1 lead. The grand slam was the teams 6th of the season and the home run was Pinckney’s 7th in the last 9 games and 11th of the season.
Holman continued his dominate performance with scoreless innings in the 3rd and 4th innings. Bama added a 6th run in the bottom of the 4th when Seidl singled and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Williamson. The Commodores used a two out walk and two singles to cut in to the lead in the top of the 5th, making the score 6-2. Holman had perfect innings in the 6th and 7th and finished his night allowing only four hits and two runs. Ed Johnson smacked his 6th home run of the year in the bottom of the 7th to give the Tide a comfortable 7-2 lead.
Alton Davis II replaced Holman to start the 8th and allowed a harmless single before retiring the visitors. The Tide piled on in the bottom of the 8th, scoring four times to put the game out of reach. Jarvis singled, Seidl walked and Pinckney singled to score Jarvis. Williamson then smoked his 12th home run of the year into the right field plaza for the 11-2 lead. Tamez singled and Johnson walked to put the Tide in position to score once more and end the game with the run rule. Vandy got out of the pickle and the game went to the 9th with Bama holding the comfortable lead. With the margin at nine runs Jackson replaced Davis with Braylon Myers, who pitched a scoreless 9th to end the game.
The Tide went 10-34 in the game with three home runs. three hit batters, two sac flies. one stolen base, seven walks, nine strikeouts, and 10 men left on base. Four players had two hit games. Jarvis at 2-5 with three runs scored and a stolen base, Pinckney was 2-2 with two walks, a hit by pitch, his 11th home run, five runs driven in, and two runs scored. Williamson finished 2-4 with a home run (12th), a sac fly, four RBI, and a run scored. Johnson joined the trio by going 2-3 with a walk, a home run, and run scored. Holman was the winner and improved to 6-2 on the season.
Vanderbilt hit only 5-32 with one walk, two hit batters, eight strikeouts, and six men left on base. Holton fell to 4-1 on the year after only lasting 1.2 innings and allowing five runs. The game was played in 2:41 and the attendance was 3500.
Game Two: L 4-1
This was a well-pitched game by both teams, with Garrett McMillian starting for the Tide against Hunter Owen for the Commodores. McMillian allowed a couple of two out singles in the 1st, but a throw by Tommy Seidl from left field cut down RJ Schreck trying for third base to end the inning. Parker Noland homered into the right field plaza in the 2nd to stake Vandy to a 1-0 lead.
Vanderbilt added a solo run in the 3rd and two in the 5th inning on two sacrifice flies. Meanwhile Owen was mowing down the Tide in order, carrying a perfect game into the 5th inning. With two out, Colby Shelton singled, but got left on base. McMillian finished six innings, having allowed seven hits, walked one, and struck out three, and allowed four runs while throwing 96 pitches.
Hagan Banks took over from McMillian in the 6th and had a quick 1-2-3 inning. Caden Rose finally put the Tide on the board in the bottom of the 6th with a solo home run, the teams second, and last, hit of the game. Banks pitched 2.1 innings allowing on one hit and a hit batter with three strikeouts. With two in the top of the 9th Aidan Moza replace Banks and induced a double play to end the inning. Ed Johnson walked in the 8th, the Tide’s only free pass of the night, and had no more base runners the rest of the way.
Alabama only had three base runners all night on 2-29 from the plate with one walk, 12 strikeouts, and two men left on base. Shelton’s single and Rose’s home run were the teams only safeties in the game. McMillian absorbed the loss and fell to 1-2 on the year.
Vanderbilt finished 8-31, walked one time, struck out six times, and left four men on base. The Dores had two doubles, two home runs, and two sacrifice flies. Owen pitched a gem over seven innings, allowing two hits, no walks, with nine strikeouts and improved to 4-0 on the season. Nick Maldonado earned his 6th save of the season. The game was played in a crisp 2:05 and the attendance was 3960.
Game Three: W 2-1
The rubber game of the series turned out to be an old fashioned pitchers duel, pitting Alabama super senior Jacob McNairy against sophomore left hander Devin Futrell for the Commodores.
McNairy allowed the Dores only run in the top of the 3rd after a one out single and two out double. The double by Davis Diaz, was hit past the third base bag and many felt it was a foul ball. However home plate umpire Mayhue Edwards emphatically declared it fair and appeared to not let coach Jason Jackson ask for a review. The hit scored Jonathan Vastine from first base.
Bama tied things up in the 4th on one swing by big Drew Williamson. Williamson drove his 13th home run of the season over the Vanderbilt bullpen in right center field. McNairy kept the Dores from tallying another run through six full innings. With a pitch count of 84 McNairy was sent back out in the 7th inning. A lead off single chased McNairy in favor of Kade Woods. Woods struck out two in the 7th. In the top of the 8th Diaz led off the inning with a single and stole second but Woods got a strikeout and two fly outs to strand the go ahead run at second.
In the bottom of the 8th Mac Guscette lifted his 7th home run of the year over the fence in left field to give the Tide a 2-1 lead. Jim Jarvis followed with a single but Bama couldn't muster any insurance runs.
With the lead in hand, Jackson turned to the teams closer, freshman left hander Alton Davis II. Davis pulled a Houdini act to strand the bases loaded for his 6th save of the year. The first batter of the inning walked for Vanderbilt, followed by a single to put the tying run in scoring position. A pop out and strikeout put the Tide within one out of the series clinching win. Lead off man Enrique Bradfield was hit by a pitch to load the bases. The ultra confident Davis got Diaz to ground to Jarvis, who threw to Williamson at first to end the game for a 2-1 Alabama win.
Alabama hit 6-29 in the game, walked one, struck out only three times, and left four men on base. Two doubles and two home runs were among the safeties. Guscette had the game winner and finished 2-3 with a double and a home run. Williamson was 1-3 with his home run. Woods was the winner and improved to 4-1 on the season. Davis earned his 6th save of the year. In the series Bama hit 18-92 for a .195 average, walked nine times, struck out 24 times, had two hit batters, five home runs, a double, three sacrifice flies, and left 17 men on base.
Vanderbilt hit 6-32 in the game with two walks, 11 strikeouts, three hit batters, and left 10 men on base. Overall in the series the Commodores were 19-95 for an average of .200, walked just four times, had five hit batters, struck out 25 times, and left 20 men on base. Another quick game, played in 2:11, in front of a sellout crowd of 5,800.
Who did what?
*Drew Williamson 3-10, two home runs (13), five RBI, two sac flies, two runs
*Ed Johnson 3-8, home run (6) , double, walk, RBI, run
*Jim Jarvis 3-13, three runs, stolen base
*Andrew Pinckney 2-10, five RBI, home run-grand slam (12), two walks, HBP, two runs
*Mac Guscette 2-11, GW RBI, home run (7), double, run
*Luke Holman W (6-2) 7 IP, 4 hits, one walk, seven strikeouts, 98 pitches
*Jacob McNairy 6 IP, 4 hits, one walk, seven strikeouts, 88 pitches, no decision
*Kade Woods W (4-1) 2 IP one hit, no walks, three strikeouts
*Alton Davis II S (6) two appearances, 2 IP 2 hits, one walk, one strikeout
You can't say enough about the mental toughness, intestinal fortitude, and heart this Bama team played with this weekend.
The team’s veteran core seemed to take things into their own hands to help the squad finish strong. With all the negativity flowing up and down Bryant Drive, leaders like Drew Williamson, Jim Jarvis, Dominic Tamez, Andrew Pinckney, Jacob McNairy, and Garrett McMillian stepped up to help the talented youngsters handle a big situation.
Everything is still in front of this team with seven regular season games left, the SEC Tournament, and possible NCAA berth. With a 32-16 record Bama already has more wins than last year’s team that finished 31-27 and just missed making the NCAA Tournament.
Jackson managed the weekend with a steady hand and showed the composure to handle the team down the stretch and help them reach their goals. If ever a team needs support and backing from their fan base, this group fills the bill.
Next up is a Tuesday night game in Montgomery against the Troy Trojans, then a trip to College Station to play the Texas A&M Aggies in a weekend series, before finishing with a home date with the Ole Miss Rebels. The Tide beat Troy 10-2 on April 4th in Tuscaloosa. The game to be played at the home of the Montgomery Biscuits, will be at 6 p.m., and can be seen on the SEC Network Plus.