Alabama took a step in the right direction Friday night when the Crimson Tide was able to overcome an early one-run deficit to Tennessee with three late runs and a 3-1 Tide win at Rhoads Park. The Vols had won the opener on Thursday, 3-2.
Alabama is now 13-7 in SEC play and in fourth place in the league, a game in front of Missouri and Tennessee. There are four games left in regular season play and the Tide has a very important one beginning at 2 p.m. today against the Vols at Rhoads Stadium.
Based on the first two games in the series the key today will be which team can get its base runners home. On Thursday in a one-run loss, Alabama left 13 on base, including twice leaving the bases loaded. Friday night, the Vols stranded 11, seven of them in scoring position.
The advantage for Bama with a win today is that the Crimson Tide (37-11 overall) closes out the season next weekend at Arkansas, the league’s weakest team with a 1-18 SEC record and the only conference team with an overall losing mark (15-31).
The SEC Tournament begins May 5 in Baton Rouge.
Leslie Jury ran her record to 9-3 with a solid performance in pitching Bama to its win Friday night. She got last-out help from Sydney Littlejohn, who came in with runners on second and third and two outs and threw five pitches to coax a game-ending ground out. It was Littlejohn’s first save of the year.
Tennessee (36-12 overall, 12-8 in SEC games) scored first on a second inning home run by Taylor Koenig.
Chaunsey Bell’s fourth-inning sacrifice bunt moved two runners into scoring position to set up Alabama’s leap to the lead. Danielle Richard, batting ninth in a Tide lineup that had several changes in batting order, went 2-3 and drove in Bama’s first run in the fourth inning. Later in the inning Demi Turner’s groundout brought home the go-ahead run.
The sixth inning insurance run came home when the first pitch in an intentional walk situation missed so badly that it was a wild pitch, enabling the Tide to take a 3-1 lead to the final inning.