It seemed it would take forever for Alabama baseball ever to get a win in Troy, but when the Crimson Tide finally got its first ever victory in Riddle-Pace Field, Bama used a somewhat familiar formula.
Thomas Burrows doesn’t usually get to see the field until late in the game, and that was the case again Tuesday as he entered the game with two outs in the eighth inning. He got the last man in the eighth and all three he faced in the ninth and Alabama had a 2-1 victory over the Troy Trojans.
Burrows, a junior, earned his 22nd career save, which is an Alabama record, and the Crimson Tide improved to 7-1 this season.
Burrows has four saves in his five appearances this year, and he has not given up a hit. The left-hander added three strikeouts, including the final two outs of Tuesday night’s game.
Obviously, Alabama’s other pitchers did well in holding the Trojans to one run. Matt Foster entered the game in the eighth inning and worked through the first two outs before giving way to Burrows.
Starter Jon Keller worked four innings, allowing four hits and one run as he struck out two and walked one. Mike Oczypok and Tyler Adams followed Keller, combining for two scoreless innings and allowing only one hit and one walk while striking out one.
Freshman Sam Finnerty (1-0) entered in the bottom of the seventh and earned his first college win with one inning of one-hit baseball. The right-hander struck out one before the Crimson Tide offense plated two runs in the top of the eighth to take the lead.
“It seemed like we had quite a few opportunities out there, but we found a way to score in the end,” said Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard. “I thought our pitching was outstanding as well as Troy’s, whose staff did a great job on the mound. It was a well-played game on both sides. We were able to stretch two and they were able to stretch one; that’s just part of the game.”
Alabama left 10 runners on base through the first seven innings. Senior Georgie Salem led off the top of the eighth with a base hit bunt down the third base line. Chandler Avant doubled to left and Bama had men on second and third with no outs.
Hunter Webb’s ground out to second allowed Salem to score and tie the score at 1-1. One out later, Chance Vincent delivered his third hit, a single to right center, to score Avant with what would be the winning run.
“I didn’t really have any specific approach; I was just trying to score the runner any way that I could,” said Vincent of his game-winning hit. “I put a good swing on it, and I got the hit we needed right there. I’m proud of our team for fighting all night, and it’s great to leave here with a win.”
Troy had taken a 1-0 lead in the third inning with two hits around a sacrifice bunt.
Alabama was close to scoring all night, applying pressure by putting runners in scoring position in nearly every inning before finally getting runs in the eighth.
Alabama will next head to Cary, N.C., for four games in the USA Baseball-Irish Classic over the weekend. The Crimson Tide will begin play at 4 p.m. CST Friday against Notre Dame. Saturday will feature a pair of games, with the first against Niagara at 11:30 a.m. followed by a 3:30 p.m. matchup with North Carolina State. The weekend wraps up with Brown at 11 a.m. CST Sunday.