Alabama Takes Game 2 From Texas A&M 7-4, Rubber Match Set for Sunday
The Alabama offense recorded 13 hits on the way to a 7-4 win at No. 3 Texas A&M on Saturday. With the win, the Crimson Tide evens the series up and improves to 24-16 overall, 9-8 in conference play.
“It’s a really good rebound game after last night when we also played really well,” said Alabama head 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.”
The Alabama offense collected 13 total hits, a season high during conference play. Five of those 13 went for extra-bases to tie the season-high mark. The offensive output was led by the trio of Chandler Taylor, Chance Vincent and Cody Henry. The Tide’s 5-6-7 hitters finished a combined 8-15 with all five extra-base hits, four RBI and five runs scored on the afternoon.
Taylor notched his team-leading sixth home run of the season while adding a double, two RBI and one run scored. Vincent followed him in the order, finishing 3-for-5 with a double and a team-high tying two runs scored. Henry matched Vincent in hits, going 3-for-5 himself, and adding a pair of doubles, two RBI and two runs scored on the day.
Not to be overlooked was the pitching effort from Alabama starter Jake Walters (4-3). The sophomore grinded out a scoreless 5.2 innings of work, allowing five hits and a season-high six walks, but showing the poise to get out of big situations. He allowed runners to reach in three of his five full frames, but stranded eight total by the end of his day to collect his fourth win of the season.
Alabama got out front first in Saturday’s contest, plating one run in the top of the second thanks to a two-out rally. Henry began the sequence, chopping a single just over the pitcher and just in front of the second baseman to put one on. He was followed by Keith Holcombe, who laid down a perfect bunt towards third to give Alabama a pair of baserunners for Will Haynie. The Tide catcher singled deep in the hole to the A&M shortstop, but an errant throw got away from the first baseman and allowed Henry to come across to make it a 1-0 contest.
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 a bases loaded, no-out situation for himself. He proceeded to get a flyout to left, a 5-2 putout at home and a huge strikeout swinging on a 3-2 count to keep the game in favor of Alabama.
A second run came in the top of the fourth for Alabama. Vincent recorded a single through the left side to put one on, before Henry recorded his second hit of the day – this one a double over the center fielder’s head to bring Vincent in and make it 2-0. The tag-team would continue its hot hitting in the sixth, delivering back-to-back doubles to give Henry his second RBI and Vincent his second run scored of the day.
Alabama’s sixth-inning rally would not end there. Following an Aggie pitching change, Holcombe reached after being hit by a pitch and then both him and Henry moved into scoring position on a passed ball. A walk loaded the bases and forced another A&M pitching change. The very next pitch was a wild one, bringing Henry home but a throw to the plate from the Aggie catcher went wide and down the first base line, allowing Holcombe to come in as well to cap off the scoring and make it a 5-0 game.
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 innings on 50 pitches.
The Tide put the game out of reach in the ninth, adding two more thanks to a two-run home run from Taylor. With a runner on first, the freshman sent a 3-2 pitch deep to right field to bring two in and make it a 7-0 game. The homer was his second in as many games and his team-leading sixth of the season.
A&M made it interesting in the bottom of the ninth. 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 the 4-3 groundout to end the game and help Alabama even the series with the 7-4 win.
The two teams will meet for the rubber match of the series tomorrow at 1 p.m. CT inside Blue Bell Park. Alabama right-handed junior Nick Eicholtz will take the mound for the Crimson Tide, while senior righty Kyle Simonds gets the call for A&M.
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