Alabama Athletics

Alabama baseball struggles in game one, coasts in game two for sweep

Alabama baseball tunes up for SEC series at Kentucky this weekend

Alabama baseball hasn’t had much luck in mid-week games this year, but the Crimson Tide picked up a pair of wins against Alcorn State in a doubleheader at Sewell-Thomas Stadium Tuesday night. Bama defeated the Braves 8-5 in the first game and took the nightcap by 8-0 in seven innings.

Alabama scored four runs in the eighth inning to pull out the first game before getting the shutout in game two.

Alabama is now 18-11, including a 12-7 record in non-conference games.

Next up for Alabama is a three-game series in Lexington against No. 19 Kentucky. The Crimson Tide and Wildcats start the series at 4:30 p.m. CDT on Friday. Games will be at Noon Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday.

Chandler Avant went 6-9 in the two games with two doubles, three runs batted in, and a team-high four runs scored. He was one of four Alabama batters who went over .500 in the two games. Cobie Vance was 3-5 with a double, had a team-high four RBI, walked twice, and scored two runs. Chance Vincent was 4-8 with three RBI and two runs scored.

“Game one was a rough one to get,” said Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard. “I told the team that those are games where you’ve just got to find a way win. It wasn’t pretty by any stretch, and we broke down in some areas and fell behind late. Chandler (Avant) gets the big hit to put us on top. (Matt) Foster had a good, clean inning. Thomas (Burrows) had a solid inning to close it out.

“It made it better the way we responded in game two. We came out and Jake (Hubbard) gave us a really good start. We scored some runs and played really clean defensively.”

Game one saw the Crimson Tide fall behind in the seventh, but rally back for four runs in the eighth before the Alabama bullpen shut the door for the win. The day’s second game was dominated by the Tide pitching staff, three pitchers combining on the shutout.

Here are game recaps:

GAME ONE

A four-run eighth inning proved the difference, as the Crimson Tide claimed an 8-5 victory in the day’s first game. Matt Foster (3-2) earned the win as he worked a scoreless eighth for his team-high tying third win of the year.

The Crimson Tide went into the eighth inning down a run, but scored four in the frame to regain its lead that the Tide built through the first five innings. Taylor Poe started the rally with a one-out single to left before Gene Wood walked. Chandler Avant sent a single to left that scored the tying run and then an error on the left fielder allowed Avant and Wood to move into scoring position.

One out later, an error on the Braves shortstop extended the inning, allowing Chance Vincent to reach and two more runs to cross. The play provided the Crimson Tide with a three-run advantage heading into the ninth. Tide closer Thomas Burrows shut down Alcorn State in the final inning, using three strikeouts to strand two runners for his sixth save of the year.

Alabama kicked off the game-one scoring in the first inning, taking a 2-0 lead early. Wood was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame before Avant crossed him with a double. One out later, Vincent singled to left to score Avant and put the tally at two.

In the fourth, Poe sent a 2-0 pitch over the wall in left for a solo home run to move the advantage to 3-0. Alcorn State added two runs in the fifth to narrow the gap to 3-2, but the Tide came right back with a single run in the bottom of the inning. Two hit-by-pitches and a wild pitch moved a pair into scoring position before a Sam Finnerty infield groundout crossed the leadoff man to make it 4-2 after five full.

Alcorn State put up two in the sixth to tie the game before taking its first lead in the seventh, adding one run for the 5-4 lead. Alabama was limited in the seventh, but used the eighth to score four runs and head into the ninth with an 8-5 lead, the eventual final as Burrows locked down the final three outs.

Avant led the Tide in hitting, going 3-for-5 with a double, two RBI and three runs scored. Also contributing multi-hit efforts were Vance, Taylor, and Poe, with Poe adding his first homer of the season.

GAME TWO

An 8-0, seven-inning shutout effort from the Crimson Tide pitching staff combined with runs in five of the Tide’s six innings gave Alabama the two-game sweep of Alcorn State in a seven-inning affair.

Senior starter Jake Hubbard (1-0) tossed a career-high 78 pitches on the way to his first win of the season. The right-hander threw five innings of two-hit baseball, walking three and striking out four. Hubbard was followed by Zac Rogers and Colton Freeman, with the two relievers combining for two scoreless innings to complete the shutout. Freeman wrapped up the seventh with three strikeouts to secure the win.

Alabama struck first in game two, scoring three in the first inning. Avant led off the game with a single before a double by Georgie Salem put both runners in scoring position. Vance capitalized on the opportunity, sending a double down the left field line for a pair of RBI. Vance moved to third on a wild pitch, and then a tough chopper on the infield from Vincent scored the freshman to push the lead to 3-0 after the first.

The third saw the Tide add one more run to its lead. Salem led off with a single and then stole second. One out later, he moved to third on an infield groundout before a Vincent two-out single to center scored the leadoff man to make it a 3-0 game.

In the fourth, Alabama added two more runs on three hits. Taylor singled to begin the inning before a Daniel Cucjen single to short put two on. Avant scored Taylor one batter later, sending a double to left for the frame’s first run. Following an intentional walk to load the bases, Vance grounded to the shortstop to reach on a fielder’s choice and bring across the inning’s second run, giving Alabama the 6-0 lead.

Alabama added one in the fifth and another in the sixth for the 8-0 advantage and win.

“Any time you can get two wins, you’re going to take them and move forward,” Gaspard said. “You get an opportunity to gain some momentum from that, particularly after game one, which was an ugly game. You take it and you get back to work tomorrow, and you get ready for Kentucky.”


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