Alabama Salvages Game Three With Texas A&M


The 12th ranked Alabama Crimson Tide baseball team hosted the number one team in the nation for the second week in a row this week. After defeating previously number one, Arkansas, two games to one last weekend, the new top of the poll team, Texas A&M came to town this weekend. The series was set for a Thursday-Saturday, but rain on Thursday forced a double header on Friday and single game on Saturday. The Aggies blasted their way to 10-5 and 18-9 wins on Friday, but the Tide bounced back for a gusty 10-9 win on Saturday. Bama fell to 25-15 overall and 7-11 in SEC play. TAM improved to 35-5 and 13-5 in league play.

Game One- Lost 10-5

The Tide sent senior left hander Greg Farone to the mound to face the heavy hitting Aggies in game one on Friday morning. Game one was moved to an 11 a.m. start with threat of bad weather coming in and the need to play two games. Farone was matched against Ryan Prager of Texas A&M. Prager has been one of the better pitchers in the SEC, and entered the contest with an ERA of just 1.68.

Farone sandwiched two strikeouts around a walk and another punch out in the top of the first. In the second Farone worked out of a bases loaded jam caused by a hit, a walk, and a hit batters, but two strikeouts and a pop up kept the Aggies off the board. Bama got runner to second and third in the bottom half on a single by TJ McCants and a double by Mac Guscette, but could not push a run across.

In the top of the third Farone walked a batters but notched his 6th strikeout to close out the inning. Bama jumper ahead in the bottom half. Gage Miller led off the frame with his 16th home run of the season, keeping his on base streak alive at 37 straight games. Justin LeBron singled, Will Hodo walked, and both raced home on a two out double from McCants.

Farone stranded Ali Camarillo at second after a double in the 4th with his 7th strikeout of the game. The Tide added on in the bottom half on a two run home run from Ian Petrutz. The 5-0 lead was short lived, and Bama was not able to score the rest of the way.

In the top of the 5th Farone allowed a single, the a double, then a sacrifice fly, followed by an RBI double. With two outs Farone walked Hayden Schott before being replaced by Tyler Fay. Fay has been a mainstay out of the bullpen for the Tide all season, but this wasn’t his day. After walking Camarillo to load the bases, allowed a grand slam home run to Caden Correll. By the time the third out was recored the Aggies had sent 10 men to the plate and scored six runs to take the lead 6-5. The Tide had a chance to answer in the bottom half, but with runners on 1st and 3rd and one out, a short fly out and a strikeout snuffed out the rally.

Fay walked the first man in the 6th and was replaced by Zane Probst. All-American Braden Montgomery greeted Probst with a monster home run for an 8-5 lead. Catcher Jackson Appell followed with another long ball for the 9-5 lead. The Tide could only draw a walk in the bottom half. Probst gave up another home run in the top of the 7th, as Sorrell hits his second of the day and 5th of the year. Bama never really threatened again and Probst and Pierce George kept the Aggies off the board over the last two innings.

The Tide hit 12-37 in the game with four walks, eight strikeouts, and nine men left on base. McCants broke out of his slump with a 4-4 game with a double and two runs scored. Guscette was 2-3 with a walk, while Petrutz was 2-5 with a home run, two RBI, and a run scored. LeBron was 2-5 with a run. Fay was the losing pitcher and fell to 1-2 on the year.

TAM hit 11-37 in the game, drew eight walks, had a hit batter, struck out 10 times, and left 10 men on base. Sorrell drove in five runs on his 2-5, two home run game. Montgomery was 1-1 with three RBI, his 21st home run, and three walks. Chris Cortez improved to 6-1 with his work out of the bullpen.

Game Two- Lost 18-9

Junior right hander Ben Hess faced off against Tanner Jones for the Aggies in game two, which started around 3 p.m. on Friday. Things started out fantastic for Hess as he struck out the first three batters he faced, all All-Americans, Gavin Grahovac, Jace LaViolette, and Braden Montgomery. The trio at the top of the A&M lineup entered the weekend with a combined 51 home runs.

The Tide went in order in the bottom half, but the fireworks begin in the second. Hess walked the lead off man, then gave up a single to Ted Burton. Desginated hitter Hayde Schott took a Hess offering the opposite way for a three run home run. Ali Camaillo followed with a single and when Caden Sorrell laced a line off of Hess’s right foot the big right hander was knocked out of the game. With the injury, freshman right hander Sam Mitchell was called in, and had as much time to warm up as needed. He may not have taken enough. Travis Chestnut bunted for single to put two men on, followed by a walk to Garahovac to load the bases. LaViolette singled in two runs, and Montgomery and Jackson Appell singled in one each, all with still no outs. Mitchell recovered to get a strikeout and double play to end the bleeding after 12 batters, eight hits, two walks, and eight runs scored.

The Tide bounced back in the bottom half. TJ McCants reached on an error, followed by a walk to Kade Snell. Evan Sleight singled to load the bases and bring up catcher Mac Guscette. Guscette picked a good time for his first home run of the season, a grand slam off the scoreboard in left field. The blast cut the lead to 8-4 entering the third inning.

After a scoreless third, both teams were back at it in the fourth. A rare error by Bryce Eblin at second base kept the inning alive and the door open for the Aggies, and as good teams do, they took advantage, scoring three times after the potential inning ending play occurred. Texas A&M added a two run home run by Grahovac in the top of the 5th for a 13-4 lead. Bama showed some life in the bottom half. Freshman phenom shortstop Justin LeBron hit a one out home run and the Tide got singles by Will Hodo, McCants, and Snell to load the bases. Guscette singled in two runs before the frame ended with Bama still behind 13-7.

The Aggies scored three times in the top of the 7th to put the Tide behind by three field goals at 16-7. Ian Petrutz singled with one out in the 8th and LeBron blasted his second home run of the game, and 8th of the season, drawing within a touchdown. LaViolette smoked a long home run in the top of the 9th to give each of the All Americans a long ball in the game. The two run shot scored the last runs of the game which ended with the Tide on the wrong end of a 18-9 score.

The Tide hit 13-40 in the game with two walks, two hit batters, only one strikeout, left eight men on base, and hit three home runs. Guscette finished 4-5 with six RBI, and one run scored. LeBron was 3-5 with two home runs, three RBI, and two runs cored. Sleight hit 2-4 with a walk and run scored. Hess fell to 3-4 with the loss.

TAM hit 18-45 with six walks, one hit batter, struck out 10 times, left seven men on base, blasted four home runs. and committed one error. Schott, LaViolette, and Montgomery all drove in four runs apiece. Brock Peery earned the victory in relief and is now 2-0 on the season.

Game Three- Won 10-9

Saturday’s game three became a must win game for the Tide. After being swept on the road at Georgia and Kentucky, Alabama could not allow a sweep at home. Freshman left-hander Zane Adams, the hero of last Sunday’s series clinching win over Arkansas was on the mound for the Tide against Justin Lamkin for Texas A&M. Adams was the reining SEC Pitcher of the Week after his eight shut out innings over the Razorbacks. This Aggies squad is a different animal though, with a considerably better offense than Arkansas.

Adams was on point in the first two innings, retiring A&M with six up and six down. Bama again surged out to a big early lead, again keyed by a grand slam from Mac Guscette. Will Hodo led off the inning with a walk and moved up on a single by TJ McCants. Kade Snell singled to load the bases. After a strikeout for out one, Guscette did it again, his second home run of the season, second of the weekend, and second grand slam, giving Bama a 4-0 lead. The Tide wasn’t finished. Bryce Eblin walked and moved to third on a Gage Miller single. Ian Petrutz hit a sacrifice fly to scored Eblin and increase the lead to 5-0.

The Aggies started chipping back in the third. Adams allowed a one out double to Caden Sorrell, then walked the pesky Train Chestnut. Gavin Grahovac singled in one run and Jace Laviolette hit a sacrifice fly to plate another. With the lead cut to 5-2, the Tide threatened to break the game open in the bottom half of the third. The runs ended a streak of 10.1 innings of shut out ball against number one teams for Adams. McCants, Snell, and Sleight, all singled to load the bases with no outs. Guscette drove in his fifth run of the game with a sacrifice fly, but a fly out and pop out ended the frame with no more damage.

Adams got in trouble in the top of the fourth. With one out Adams allowed two singles before striking out Sorrell for out two, Chestnut was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Grahovac blasted a double to clear the bases and chase Adams. Tyler Fay struck out LaViolette looking to stop the uprising and keep the Tide on top 6-5.

Snell lined a home run off the foul ball in right field in the 5th to give the Tide a 7-5 lead. In the top of the 6th Fay wrapped a single and an RBI triple around two strikeouts. With two out and the Tide ahead 7-6, coach Rob Vaughn called on closer Alton Davis, a lot earlier than normal. Davis looked to have worked out the jam, but home plate umpire David Savage had other ideas. LaViolette was given second and third life with two strikes on a possible check swing punch out and a no doubt perfect pitch that wasn’t called strike three. As great players do, LaViolette took advantage and hit one of the long home runs hit in The Joe in recent memory. When (if) the ball landed, the Aggies had battled back for an 8-7 lead headed to the bottom of the 6th.

Tide leading hitter Gage Miller had a realtively quite weekend- by his standards- but hit his 17th home run of the season to tie the game up at 8-8 in the bottom of the sixth inning. Davis’s defense let him down in the top half of the 7th inning. With one out Ted Barton singled. Davis had him picked off but when Hodo tried to make the throw to second base the ball sailed into left field to put Barton at third base. After a walk Justin LeBron fumbled a ball at shortstop to load the bases. Sorrell hit a sacrifice fly to plate the go ahead fun for Aggie, 9-8.

In the bottom of the 7th the Tide battled back again. With one out Snell singled for his fourth hit of the day. Sleight worked a walk and Guscette then singled to load the bases. Eblin laced a single up the middle to scored Snell and Sleight and give Bama the 10-9 lead. Vaughn stuck with Davis in the 8th and two strikeouts and a fly ball stranded Braden Montgomery who had walked. Bama had an opportunity for some insurance in the bottom of the 8th. McCants bunted for a hit with two outs and Snell followed with a single of his own, his school record tying fifth hit of the game. However a strikeout ended the frame and the Tide went to the ninth needing three outs for the win.

Davis walked Barton to lead off the inning on another border line ball call. Hayden Schott singled to center to put runners on the corners with no outs. Pinch runner Jack Bell stole second base to put the go ahead run in scoring position with still no outs. Davis came up big, forcing a pop out to first, notching a strikeout looking, and inducing a pop out to second base that Eblin squeezed for the final out and the win.

The Tide hit 16-38 in the game with two walks, one hit batter, struck out seven times, and left nine men on base. Bama had three home runs, two sac flies, and committed two errors. Snell tied the school recored for hits in a game with his 5-5 day with three runs, a run, and a home run. Miller finished 2-5 with a run, RBI, and home run. McCants was 3-5 with two runs, and Guscette continued his torrid weekend with a 2-3 game with a grand slam, a sac fly, five RBI, and one run scored. Eblin was 2-4 with the two game winning RBI and a run scored. Davis stretched out to 75 pitches of 3.1 innings, allowing three hits, two runs-one earned, with three walks and three strikeouts. With the win Davis improved to 4-1 on the season. For the series the Tide hit a scorching 41-115 for a .356 average with eight walks, three hit batters, 12 strikeouts, 24 men left on base, while hitting eight home runs and two doubles.

TAM hit 11-37 with five walks, one hit batters, had nine strikeouts, and left nine on base. The Aggies had two doubles, a triple, and one home run. The leading hitting team in the conference was out hit by the Tide, but still managed 40-119 for a .336 average, worked 18 walks, had four hit batters, nine home runs, six doubles, a triple, two stolen bases, and a pair of sacrifice flies.

Who Did What?

*Mac Guscette 8-13, two grand slam home runs, 11 RBI, three runs, sac fly

*TJ McCants 8-14, double, four runs, two RBI

*Kade Snell 6-12, home run, two walks, four runs, RBI, tied school record with five hits in a game

*Justin LeBron 6-14, two home runs, HBP, three RBI, three runs

*Bryce Eblin 3-11, walk, run, two RBI, game winning hit

*Gage Miller 3-15, two home runs, two RBI, two runs, had 37 game on base streak snapped

*Alton Davis II W (4-1) 3.1 IP, 3 hits, two runs, one earned run, three walks, three strikeouts

Huge bounce back win for the Tide after losing the first two games. With the win Bama finished 3-3 against the two number one teams the last two weekends. The offense lit up the second best pitching staff in the conference, but Tide’s staff struggled with the most prolific offense in the league. Alabama actually out hit the Aggies, but let some opportunities to slide by. Again Bama did not get enough free bases themselves, and gave up too many to TAM.

However there were several good things that came out of the series. McCants came out of his slump in a big way. Guscette was finally able to drive the ball and notched his first two home runs of the season among his eight hits. Couldn’t happen to a better guy.

Guscette actually is using his NIL money to help others.

Now that college players can use their name, image and likeness to make money, he wanted to use that money to help baseball players with special needs get the glasses they need to help them see more clearly.

Snell has solidified himself in the DH spot, regardless of right handed or left handed pitchers. LeBron had one bobble in the field, but continues to make spectacular plays look routine. Miller’s batting average dipped below .400 for the first time in several weeks, but he still produced with his two home runs. Sleight has struggled mightily at the plate the last three to four weeks, but that hasn’t affected his defense, and he contributed with three hits, some timely walks, and a couple of runs scored. Bama knocked all three Aggie starters out of the game early, which had been a problem the past few weeks. Davis was a hoss in the finale and made some clutch pitches to ensure the victory. After home series wins over the #3, #10, and #1 teams in the country, to expect another was probably not realistic, but not getting swept was huge.

Next up is a home game with Samford on Tuesday at 6 p.m. and a road trip to Oxford to take on Ole Miss on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The games with the Rebels are at 6:30 p.m. on ESPNU on Thursday, 6:30 p.m. Friday on SEC Network Plus, and 2 p.m. Saturday, again on the SEC Network Plus.

Roll Tide

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