Alabama Baseball Slump Ends Season
Alabama wraps up the season with a 37-21 record after making its 12th regional appearance in the past 15 seasons. The Crimson Tide was at its worst late in the season, losing six of its final seven games and being eliminated both from the Southeastern Conference Tournament and the NCAA Regionals with 0-2 records.
Tennessee Tech senior right-hander Michael Alcorn tossed a 129-pitch complete game to lead the Golden Eagles past Alabama. Alcorn (3-3) held the Crimson Tide lineup to two runs on nine hits with six strikeouts and four walks. The Tech defense turned three doubles plays and Alabama stranded seven base runners, including four in scoring position.
Sophomore second baseman Ross Wilson, junior third baseman Brandon May and senior catcher Vin DiFazio each had two hits for the Crimson Tide and combined for six of the team's nine hits. DiFazio was UA's leading hitter at the Clemson Regional with a .571 (4-for-7) average. Wilson hit .500 (3-for-6) and May hit .444 (4-for-9) in the Tide's two games.. Wilson ended the year with a career-best 16-game hitting streak.
Alabama held a brief 1-0 lead in the second inning on three straight singles from Kent Matthes, May and Clay Jones. Jones' RBI single struck the leg of Alcorn and ricocheted into right field. The Tide did not generate any more offense in the inning as DiFazio struck out and Del Howell, making his second start of the season, grounded into a double play.
Tennessee Tech took the lead for good in the bottom of the second inning on Chad Hayes' two-run single to right field and tacked on another run in the firth when it loaded the bases with no outs against UA starter Adam Morgan. The Golden Eagles settled for only one run on A.J. Kirby-Jones' sacrifice fly to right field. The Tide escaped with a 3-1 deficit when Ben Burgess lined out and Evan Webb grounded out to kill the rally.
Alabama tried to get back in the game in the seventh inning with one run on three hits, but had the inning end when May was thrown out at home plate after Howell's sharp single deflected off the glove of Hayes at second base to end the inning. Wilson led off the inning with a walk before Matthes flied out to center field. May followed with a single to left to put runners at first and second with one out before Jones flied out to right for the second out of the inning. DiFazio followed with an RBI single to left field to narrow the TTU lead to 3-2.
With runners at first and second, Howell then smashed a sharp single off the glove of Hayes at second base to advance both runners and May was waved from third to home in an attempt to tie the game, but Hayes recovered the ball and fired a perfect strike to catcher Cory Wright, who tagged May for the final out of the inning.
Tech seized the momentum and the game by tacking on three runs in the bottom half of the seventh inning to take a 6-2 lead. Alex Henry stroked a leadoff double and later scored on a throwing error by Morgan on Chad Oberacker's sacrifice bunt attempt. Webb and Wright later added RBI singles off reliever Nathan Kilcrease to give the Golden Eagles the final four-run lead.
Morgan (4-2) allowed six runs and eight hits in six-plus innings and took the loss. Kilcrease faced four batters and allowed three hits, while redshirt freshman Tyler White worked 1 2/3 scoreless innings with three strikeouts.
Alabama put two runners on base with two outs in the eighth before Matthes struck out on a 3-2 pitch. In the ninth, the Tide had two on and one out before Howell struck out and Tyler Odle popped up to end the game.
Tennessee Tech improves to 34-20-1 and advances to face the loser of tonight's Clemson-Oklahoma State game on Sunday, June 1. The Golden Eagles now own NCAA Tournament wins over Ohio State, Wake Forest and Alabama in its four NCAA Regional appearances in school history.