Let’s start with the bottom of the 10th inning, with Alabama down 6-4: Kyle Overstreet singled to right off Dogs closer Jared Cheek (2-2). Cody Henry drilled a single over first for his fourth hit, chasing Overstreet to third. Riley Colburn (son of former Tide safety Rocky) ran for Henry at first. J.C. Wilhite then singled up the middle to score Overstreet and pull Bama within a run, still with no outs. Will Haynie showed bunt, and laid down a sacrifice on a 2-2 pitch. Chance Vincent lofted a short fly to center, and third base coach Andy Phillips sent Colburn, who dove over Stephens and got a hand on the plate to tie the score.
“The one thing that showed (tonight) is we’ve got good fight,” said Tide Coach Mitch Gaspard. “We’ll come back, and compete really hard, and tonight, it paid off in the end. We were able to find a way to get a win that we really needed. We’re playing really stressed, and sometimes a win like that can relax you a little bit.
“This is the kind of win we can build on, throughout the weekend.”
There more drama, of the game-winning variety, in the home half of the 11th.
Centerfielder Georgie Salem (son of ex-Bama lineman George) began the frame with a double down the left field line. Mikey White (son of Mike, who played offensive line for Bryant and Perkins) then dropped a hit in between the center and right fielders to score Salem and give his team the “W.”
“(Cheek) started me off 0-2, and he was trying to get me to chase some pitches,” said White. “He left a slider down and away, and I flicked the bat at it and hit it. He had a good slider, and I knew he was going to try to get me to chase it.
“We just kind of believed we could come back.”
Said Henry, he of the 4-5, 3 RBI night on going from .056 to .328 at the plate in three weeks: “Just a lot of hard work, and a lot of guys supporting me. I’m hoping to get better, and I’m maturing.”
Freshman first baseman Henry opened the Alabama second with a single, and was chased to third when DH Wilhite doubled to deep right past a diving Skyler Weber. With two men in scoring position and no outs, catcher Will Haynie narrowly missed a double when a ball hit just outside the chalk. Haynie struck out before third baseman Chance Vincent drove in Henry. Wilhite stopped at third, and with men on the corners and one out, Avant struck out swinging. Salem went down looking, but after two the Tide led 1-0.
After a botched pick-off attempt on a poor throw to second by Henry, Georgia catcher Brandon Stephens drove in a run with two down to tie the score in the third. In the home half, White led off with a double to left. Casey Hughston popped to short before Overstreet missed a double by two feet and went down swinging. Henry made up for his error with a two-out, RBI triple, plating White and nudging Bama back in front. After three, the Tide held a 2-1 lead. Henry has hit in five straight games with multiple safeties in four in a row.
Stephens’ third hit of the night came with two down in the fifth and his RBI single tied the game for Georgia. Daniel Nichols then singled past a diving White at short to put the Dogs ahead. After 4.5 innings, the visitors held a 3-2 advantage.
Jay Shaw relieved Taylor Guilbeau to start the seventh after the senior lefty allowed three earned runs on six hits. Guilbeau He threw 100 pitches, walked five and struck out five in six complete innings. Shaw pitched one scoreless inning.
Salem drew a five-pitch walk to open the seventh, and stole his team-leading 12th base.
After White struck out, Georgia Coach Scott Stricklin brought in lefty Bo Tucker to face Hughston. The sophomore right fielder reached on an error by second baseman Bell. After Overstreet struck out, switch-hitter Henry (that man again) doubled to left center driving in two and giving his team the lead back. Both runs were unearned, but that didn’t matter on the score board. Bama took a 4-3 lead to the eighth.
The Tide’s hottest pitcher, righty Ray Castillo, then entered to try for the two-inning save. The junior struggled at times, as the Dogs left two on in the inning and put the first two men on to open the ninth. After a trip to the mound by Gaspard, Castillo allowed a bunt single to Stephen Wrenn as Overstreet was late covering first. With the bases loaded and no outs, Gaspard brought in his former closer, Thomas Burrows. The sophomore lefty allowed a sacrifice fly to left by Jared Walsh to tie the game. After a double steal, Stephens flew to Salem in short center, and the junior cut down Weber at home to end the frame. Heading to the bottom of the ninth, the score was knotted at four.
With two on and one out in the top of the 10th, McGovern drove an 0-2 Burrows offering over the bag at third to plate a run and break the tie. Mitch Greer(1-1) replaced Burrows on the hill with two down and the sacks full, and Wrenn drew a walk on a 3-1 pitch to give UGA a 6-4 lead.
The Tide had to fish or cut bait. It did, scoring two in the 10th and the gamer in the 11th, but there was a scare in the top of the final inning. Vincent moved to first base and booted a grounder by Daniel Nichols with one out in the 11th. Trevor Kieboom singled up the middle to give the Bulldogs men on the corners. Bell flew to left, Colburn hit the cutoff man, and Kieboom got kaboomed at first on a base-running blunder.
Alabama is now 17-15, 5-8 SEC. Georgia dropped to 19-16, 5-8.The teams play Saturday at 3 p.m. CDT and Sunday at 1 p.m. to conclude the series.