Saturday Doubleheader Split Claims Series Win for Alabama Baseball over Tennessee
Alabama baseball split its doubleheader with Tennessee on Saturday, taking game one by a score of 11-2 before falling, 6-3, in the series finale. The game-one victory earned the Crimson Tide its second SEC series victory in as many weekends.
“It’s about winning series in conference play,” said Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard. “The biggest takeaway for me is that our pitching continues to really pound the strike zone. That was a really good offense in Tennessee. They’re up top in the league in a lot of offensive categories, and I thought we matched up well on the mound.”
The Crimson Tide arms allowed nine runs on the day (six earned) while garnering 14 strikeouts and limiting run-scoring opportunities for one of the conference’s top offenses.
Alabama’s offense on Saturday was highlighted by Will Haynie, with the junior catcher collecting three hits, a home run, three RBI, two runs scored and a walk. Hunter Webb finished the day at .500 (4-8) with a double, three runs scored and two walks. Connor Short also collected three hits, including a double, with two RBI, one run scored and walk.
The Alabama offense collected 10 hits leading to 11 runs as the Crimson Tide claimed the series victory over Tennessee with an 11-3 win in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader.
The offense for UA was highlighted by Cody Henry’s 2-for-5 game which included a pair of doubles, a team-high four RBI and two runs scored. Also adding multiple RBI was Cobie Vance, who finished with three on his 1-for-4 day, and Haynie, who closed out a 1-for-3 game with a home run, three RBI and a run scored.
Tennessee struck first in game one, plating single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to take a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth. Alabama rallied back for four in the sixth and a season-high seven runs in the seventh inning to claim the eventual 11-3 win.
Down 2-0, Webb, Short and Chandler Taylor loaded the bases for Henry with walks in consecutive order to lead off the sixth. Henry delivered in the clutch, sending a double down the line at third to clear the bases and give Alabama a 3-2 lead. A groundout advanced Henry to third and then Chance Vincent sent a single to right center to score the man on the corner and widen the lead to 4-2.
The Tide offense erupted for seven runs in the bottom of the seventh to put the game out of reach. A single and a hit-by-pitch put runners on first and second for Henry, who sent his second double of the afternoon to left, scoring the leadoff man. Cobie Vance followed with a single of his own to score one more and then a walk put two on for Georgie Salem. The senior singled to center to score one more and chase the Tennessee reliever.
The new Volunteer arm was greeted by Will Haynie, who promptly sent a 2-1 pitch out to left-center to score three and give Alabama the 11-2 lead after seven full. Tennessee plated one in the ninth, but stranded three runners with the bases loaded as the Sam Finnerty recorded the final out on a groundout to second.
“It was big right there,” said Gaspard of his team’s ability to rally back. “They hit us with the two-spot and took the lead, but we were able to come back. I thought we were really disciplined at the plate today. We were able to get the bases loaded due to the walks, and then we delivered big hits. Cody Henry had the double to clear the bases, and (Chance) Vincent came up with a big one, too. The rally really started from there.”
Kyle Cameron (2-1) earned his second win of the season, working 1.1 innings and walking one batter while striking out one. Jake Walters worked another solid start, tossing 5.2 innings and allowing two runs (one earned) with four hits, a walk and five strikeouts to keep the Crimson Tide within striking distance.
Alabama fell in game two to Tennessee as the Vols avoided the sweep with a 6-3 win in Saturday’s second game.
Tennessee built a 3-0 lead after the first two frames, forcing the Crimson Tide to battle back from an early deficit once again. Alabama went scoreless through the first five innings, but struck in the bottom of the sixth. A one-out triple from Taylor put a runner in scoring position, and one out later Vance plated the fellow freshman with a single to center to narrow the gap to 3-1.
One inning later, Haynie singled through the left side and advanced to second on a sac bunt from Chandler Avant. Webb followed with a walk, and then Short delivered with a double to bring both runners across and even the game at 3-3.
The two teams went scoreless again until the ninth, when the Vols used a two-out double to put one in scoring position. With the runner at second, Tennessee singled to right and forced a play at the plate that tilted in favor of the Volunteers and gave the visitors a 4-3 lead. An intentional walk followed and the next UT batter sent a triple over the fielder’s head in right to extend the Tennessee lead to 6-3.
Alabama’s ninth featured a two-out single but nothing more, as the Volunteers closed out the game and left with a victory on getaway day.
The Tide offense in game two was highlighted by the 1-2-3 hitters in Webb, Short and Taylor, who finished a combined 6-for-13 with two doubles, two RBI and two runs scored on the night. Haynie also put together another multi-hit effort, going 2-for-3 with one run.
Alabama will next travel to Montgomery for a non-conference matchup with Auburn in the annual MAX Capital City Classic at Riverwalk Stadium on Tuesday, March 29. The two rivals will square off at 7 p.m. CT on the SEC Network. Following the single midweek game, the Crimson Tide will travel to Athens for a three-game series with Georgia from Thursday-Saturday.