Things did not start well for Alabama when the Crimson Tide hosted its first Southeastern Conference baseball series of the season – and first in the renovated Sewell-Thomas Stadium in front of a sold-out crowd of 5,867. But all’s well that end’s well.
Alabama rallied from a first-inning three-run deficit to post a 7-3 win over Tennessee Friday night as Bama improved to 14-7 overall and 3-1 in SEC play. The Vols fell to 13-8 and 1-3 in the conference.
Because of inclement weather expected Sunday, Alabama and Tennessee will conclude its three-game series with two games Saturday, the first at 2 p.m. CDT followed by a game at 8. The second game will be televised on the SEC Network.
“Bouncing back from the three-run deficit starts on the mound with Geoffrey (Bramblett),” said Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard. “In the first inning, they were on every pitch and it looked like the wheels were falling off, but that’s why he pitches on Friday night. That kind of inning is going to happen occasionally. It’s how you respond from it, and he did a hell of a job. He came back and started punching out zeros, and our offense was able to get going.”
Tennessee built a 3-0 first-inning lead with a two-run home run by Nick Senzel and a double by Vincent Jackson off Crimson Tide starter Geoffrey Bramblett (3-0). Bramblett would shut down the Volunteers offense over the next 5 1/3 innings for his team-leading third win of the season. After giving up three hits in the first, the junior allowed just five more hits the rest of the game. The righty finished with six strikeouts and did not walk a batter to improve his record to 4-0 for his career when not allowing a base on balls.
Alabama would begin its rally in the third inning. Will Haynie was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a single from Daniel Cucjen. Freshman Hunter Webb doubled down the left field line to score Haynie, and Cucjen would score on a groundout by Connor Short to pull the Tide within one.
“Once we got the two, I thought we got some momentum and we really kept it on our side,” Gaspard said. “A lot of credit to our pitching at that point, as they kept making pitches. I thought Dylan Duarte got a couple big double-play balls to help end any threat, and a lot of credit goes to Geoffrey tonight to give our offense a chance to get going.”
The Alabama offense got four runs in the fifth inning. After Webb was hit by a pitch, Short picked up his second RBI with a double to left-center to even the score at 3-3. Back-to-back walks loaded the bases for Chance Vincent, and the senior delivered with a bases-clearing double to left to put the Tide in front, 6-3.
Alabama added one more in the eighth inning. Georgie Salem started the inning with a single to center, and he was able to advance to third on when the ball bounced off the fielder’s glove for a two-base error. A Cucjen single one out later scored Salem for the Tide’s final run.
“Some of their guys just got on the barrel and they got hot,” Bramblett said of Tennessee’s early start. “You keep making pitches in the zone and you have nights like that or, hopefully, like we did, you shut that down as early as you can. You credit them – they’re a good offense, they came out swinging and they were hot. You keep making pitches and you keep doing what you can do and control what you can control to limit that, and it ended up working out for us.”
Freshman reliever Dylan Duarte followed Bramblett on the mound, working the final 2 2/3 innings and allowing only one hit while striking out a pair to earn the first save of his career.