Thomas Burrows Sets Career Saves Mark, Alabama Baseball Takes Down Troy, 2-1
Another strong pitching performance from the Alabama arms led the Crimson Tide to a 2-1 win over Troy on Tuesday evening at Riddle-Pace Field. Junior closer Thomas Burrows earned his 22nd career stop to set the Alabama all-time mark for career saves as the Tide claimed its first ever win at Troy and improved to 7-1 overall on the season.
Holding a 2-1 advantage heading into the bottom of the eighth, Alabama called on its combination of Matt Foster and Burrows to seal the victory. Foster worked 0.2 of an inning before Burrows entered for the final 1.1 innings to earn the 22nd of his career, setting the Alabama all-time mark for career saves. Burrows retired all four batters he faced and has yet to give up a hit this season in his five appearances (four saves). The left-hander also added three strikeouts to his season total, including the final two outs of the game.
The Crimson Tide arms leading to Foster and Burrows excelled as well in Tuesday’s contest. Starter Jon Keller tossed 4.0 innings of one-run baseball, allowing four hits and issuing one walk while striking out two Trojans. Mike Oczypok and Tyler Adams followed Keller, combining for 2.0 innings of scoreless baseball and allowing only one hit and one walk while striking out one.
Sam Finnerty (1-0) entered in the bottom of the seventh and proceeded to earn his first career win with 1.0 inning of one-hit baseball. The freshman struck out one before the Crimson Tide offense plated two runs in the top of the eighth to take the lead.
“It seemed like we had quite a few opportunities out there, but we found a way to score in the end,” said Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard. “I thought our pitching was outstanding as well as Troy’s, whose staff did a great job on the mound. It was a well-played game on both sides. We were able to stretch two and they were able to stretch one; that’s just part of the game.”
Alabama left 10 runners on base through the first seven innings of play, but in the eighth the Crimson Tide finally broke through. Georgie Salem led off the frame with a perfectly placed bunt down the third base line and was followed by a Chandler Avant double to left to put two in scoring position with no outs.
Hunter Webb followed with a 4-3 groundout that evened the score at 1-1 as Salem crossed for the Tide’s first run. One out later, Chance Vincent collected his third hit of the day with a single to right center to score Avant and give Alabama its first lead of the evening, 2-1.
“I didn’t really have any specific approach; I was just trying to score the runner any way that I could,” said Vincent of his game-winning hit. “I put a good swing on it, and I got the hit we needed right there. I’m proud of our team for fighting all night, and it’s great to leave here with a win.”
Troy struck first, using a pair of hits in the bottom of the third to bring one across. A single led off the inning and a sacrifice bunt put one Trojan in scoring position. With two down, Trevor Davis sent a single to right-center field to score the game’s first run and give Troy a 1-0 lead. Alabama was close to scoring all night, applying pressure by putting runners in scoring position in nearly every inning until the eighth when the Crimson Tide finally broke through for two to take the lead and eventually the win.
Alabama will next head to Cary, N.C., for four games in the USA Baseball-Irish Classic over the weekend. The Crimson Tide will begin play on Friday against Notre Dame at 4 p.m. CT to kick off the weekend. Saturday will feature a pair of games, with the first contest against Niagara at 11:30 a.m. followed by a 3:30 p.m. CT matchup with N.C. State. The weekend wraps up with Brown at 11 a.m. CT on Sunday morning.