After Alabama lost two close, low-scoring games to Houston, the Crimson Tide salvaged the final game of the series with a close, high-scoring win Sunday at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Will Haynie’s solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning was the winner for Bama in a 7-6 decision over the 21st-ranked Cougars.
Alabama, ranked 23rd in the nation going into the weekend, improved to 11-4.
With two down, no one on and the game tied at 6-6 in the eighth, Haynie blasted the first pitch deep to left field off the light pole to put Alabama in front, 7-6.
“It was a great feeling to get that home run,” said Haynie of his game-winning hit. “It feels like it’s been tough in the box for a while, but it just feels good to help the team get a win. I was sitting on a fastball, saw my pitch, and got good contact on it.”
The Crimson Tide had three-run frames in the third and sixth innings. Houston’s offense also posted big innings, scoring a pair in the fourth and adding three runs in the seventh to even the score late.
Haynie paced the Tide in hitting, finishing 2-for-3 with one RBI and two runs scored. Leading the team in RBI was junior Hunter Webb, who went 1-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored.
Alabama received a strong outing from senior starter Jon Keller, with the left-hander throwing six innings and allowing four runs (two earned) on six hits with a walk and three strikeouts. He was followed by a trio of relievers, including Dylan Duarte (2-1), who claimed his second win of the season thanks to a scoreless final two innings of work.
Houston had the early lead at 1-0.
Alabama answered with three runs in the bottom of the third. Haynie reached on an error and then Daniel Cucjen singled. An error allowed both runners to move into scoring position. Hunter Webb doubled down the left field line to bring both runners home and put Alabama in front, 2-1. The Tide added another run two batters later on a Chance Vincent infield groundout that allowed Webb to score from third and extend the Tide lead to 3-1.
The Cougars evened it with a pair of runs in the fourth. A leadoff walk followed by an error and a fielder’s choice scored two runs, both unearned, off Keller.
Alabama added three runs in the bottom of the sixth. Cody Henry led off the inning with a double and came home on a throwing error that allowed Chandler Avant to reach. Georgie Salem doubled to score Avant and Cucjen brought Salem in with a single, making it 6-3.
In the seventh, Houston used three hits and an error to even the score at 6-6. A single to left led off the inning and ended Keller’s day. Houston drew a walk and then an error put two in scoring position with the Cougar leadoff man singling to center to score two before the Tide made another pitching change. A single to left loaded the bases and then a sac fly to right scored the tying run for the visitors.
Alabama broke the tie with Haynie’s homer and sealed the win thanks to a 1-2-3 final inning from Duarte.
“It’s been a little bit of a battle for the last six games offensively,” said Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard. “so it was nice to see the offense going. We had to overcome a lot this weekend. We had three guys injured, and a couple of them were on the fly with last-minute type stuff. I thought some guys like Hunter (Webb), Dylan Duarte, and (Daniel) Cucjen stepped in and did a really nice job. They really impacted the game today to help us win.”
Following today’s matchup, Alabama will begin a streak of six games away from home, first with Southern Miss on Tuesday at 6 p.m. CDT. The Crimson Tide will then travel to Baton Rouge to open Southeastern Conference play with the LSU Tigers. The two teams will take part in a three-game weekend series, with Friday’s contest scheduled for a 7 p.m. CDT start.