Alabama got strong hitting from the middle of the lineup Saturday as the Crimson Tide downed third-ranked Texas A&M in College Station, 7-4, to even the Southeastern Conference series.
Alabama’s Chandler Taylor, batting fifth; Chance Vincent, sixth; and Cody Henry, seventh, went 8-15 against Texas A&M pitching, accounting for five extra base hits, four runs batted in, and five runs scored.
The Crimson Tide offense had 13 hits, five for extra bases, the season highs in both categories in an SEC game.
Bama, coming off an extra-inning loss to the Aggies on Friday night, improved to 24-16 overall and 9-8 in SEC games. Texas A&M is nbow 31-8 overall, 11-6 in the conference.
The teams will meet in the rubber game at 1 p.m. CDT inside Blue Bell Park. Alabama right-handed junior Nick Eicholtz will go against A&M senior right-hander while senior righty Kyle Simonds.
“It’s a really good rebound game after last night when we also played really well,” said Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard. “I thought our guys responded today, bouncing back to beat a really good Texas A&M team. You can really see a difference in the offense when you get the production from Cody Henry, Chandler Taylor, and Chance Vincent. As a team, we got good production throughout the lineup and that offensive output helped us get this win.”
Taylor slammed his second home run of the series, and team-leading sixth of the season, while adding a double and driving in two runs and scoring one. Vincent went 3-5 with a double and two runs. Henry went 4-5 with a pair of doubles, two RBI, and two runs scored.
Bama also got solid pitching. Sophomore starter Jake Walters improved his record to 4-3 as he went 5 2/3 innings, allowing five hits and a season-high six walks, but got out of jams by stranding eight Aggies.
Alabama got out front in the top of the second with a two-out rally on three infield singles and an error. Henry chopped a single over the pitcher. Keith Holcombe followed with a bunt single. Will Haynie singled deep in the hole to the A&M shortstop, and an errant throw got away from the first baseman and allowed Henry to score.
Walters battled in the bottom of second to keep the Aggies off the board after allowing singles to the first two hitters and a walk to the inning’s third man to create to load the bases with no outs. He and Alabama got out of the jam with a flyout to left, a putout at home, and a strikeout on a 3-2 count.
Alabama made it 2-0 in the fourth. Vincent singled and scored on a double by Henry to deep center.
In the sixth, the duo struck again with back-to-back doubles, Vincent scoring, Henry with another RBI. Texas A&M generosity made the inning a big one for the Tide. Holcombe was hit by a pitch to put men on first and second. A wild pitch moved Henry to third and Holcombe to second and a walk loaded the bases. A wild pitch allowed Henry to score, and a throw from the catcher trying to get the out went into right field, Holcombe scoring to make it 5-0.
Walters’ day would end in the bottom of the sixth, getting the first two outs of the inning before a walk and single led to a pitching change. Sam Finnerty came in for a two-pitch out, getting a ground ball to end the threat. Finnerty would go on to work a season-long 2 1/3 innings on 50 pitches.
The Tide made it 7-0 in the top of the ninth on a two-run home run from Taylor on a 3-2 pitch.
A&M didn’t go without a fight. After the Aggies loaded the bases, Alabama was forced to go to its bullpen, calling on Thomas Burrows in a non-save situation. Burrows got the first hitter to ground out, allowing one to cross, before A&M sent a single to center to score a second run. Burrows struck out the next hitter for out No. 2, but a single followed that scored two more. With one on and two down, Burrows got a groundout to end the game.