The roller coaster ride that is this Alabama baseball team season came to an end on Sunday afternoon in Winston Salem, NC. Wake Forest won their Regional two games to zero by scores of 5-4 on Saturday and 22-5 on Sunday. The Tide was in it until the end on Saturday but Sunday’s game got away from them in a hurry. Wake advances to the CWS for the first time since 1956 and is now 52-10 on the season. Bama finished 43-21 in the campaign. Alabama survived a late season coaching change to bond together and earn a National seed and host a regional as the 16th overall seed. Wake Forest is the number one seed in the tournament.
Interim coach Jason Jackson chose super senior Jacob McNairy to start on the mound for the Tide over usual number two man Garrett McMillian. McNairy tossed 7.2 scoreless innings against Boston College last Sunday to advance the Tide to Super play. After being home team on Saturday, the Demon Deacons were the visitors on Sunday.
McNairy was in trouble from the start. Wake’s Tommy Hawke led off with a double and scored on a one out home run by Nick Kurtz. Brock Wilken followed Kurtz long ball with one of his own, his first of three in the game. The Deacs smashed nine home runs in the game.
All ACC pitcher Josh Hartle started on the mound for Wake, and he too was greeted by a lead off double in the first. Bama shortstop Jim Jarvis doubled and trotted home on Andrew Pinckney’s 18th home run of the season.
The 3-2 score was as close as the Tide would get for the rest of the game. A one out walk and a home run by Tommy Hawke pushed Wake to a 5-2 lead in the top of the second.
Alabama freshman Colby Shelton blasted his 24th home run of the season in the bottom half of the second. Wilkin touched McNairy for another long ball in the 3rd. McNairy was replaced by Kade Woods who was touched by back to back home runs from Danny Corona and Bennett Lee.
Hartle cruised through the 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings in a scoreless manner, allowing only two singles. Hunter Furtado, a transfer from Wake Forest, replaced Woods in the 4th and was the most effective Bama pitcher of the day. After two scoreless innings Furtado allowed an infield single and walk, and with two outs was replaced by Riley Quick. Quick hit the first batter he faced before giving up a two run single, making the score 12-3.
In the bottom of the 6th, Colby Shelton drove a long home run over the right field wall for his 25th long ball of the season. Quick and Alton Davis II combined for a scoreless 7th inning and the Tide closed within 12-5 on a solo blast by Mac Guscette. The wheels came off for the Tide in the 8th, yielding six runs including a grand slam. They would give up four more runs in the 9th on two additional home runs - against a combination of Davis, Hunter Hoopes, and Braylon Myers. By the time the onslaught was over, the Tide was crushed 22-5.
Bama hit 9-35 in the game with two walks, a double, four home runs, 16 strikeouts, and five men left on base. Shelton was the only multi-hit player for the Tide with his 2-3 game with two home runs. Shelton had six games with two home runs this season. Pinckney drove in two with his home run and was 1-4. Guscette was 1-4 with his home run. Jarvis was 1-5 with his double. Dominic Tamez, Tommy Seidl, and Drew Williamson all had one single each. McNairy fell to 7-3 with the loss.
Wake Forest was 18-43 with three doubles, nine home runs, nine walks, two hit batters, 10 strikeouts, and six left on base. Wilken became the ACC’s all time home run hitter with his three home runs. Corona had two home runs of his own after having the controversial check swing second chance home run yesterday.
It was a tough end to a great season for the Tide. They just got overwhelmed by a very good team today after playing them evenly on Saturday. There is a lot up in the air with the program with Athletics Director having to make a decision on the permanent head coach. I’ll be back in a couple of days with a season ending summary and some thoughts on the team and program going forward. This season has been a hell of a ride, and this group has become one of my all time favorite Tide teams in any sport.
Bama Baseball Fever, Cacth it!