Praytor’s Two-RBI Double Completes Alabama Baseball’s Comeback over Jacksonville State, 9-8
With runners on first and second and two down, freshman Sam Praytor lined a double down the third base line to plate the tying and winning runs in Alabama baseball’s 9-8 walkoff victory over Jacksonville State on Tuesday evening at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. With the win, the Crimson Tide moves to 25-25 overall on the season.
“I’m glad we got the win,” said Alabama head coach Brad Bohannon. “It was an ugly game. We made a lot of mistakes tonight, and I was frustrated, but the effort and energy was there. Our guys hung in there, and we were able to get a big knock late. I credit our kids for having the resolve to finish strong at the end and pull it out.”
The Crimson Tide entered the ninth trailing 8-7. With one down in the inning, junior Cobie Vance singled through the left side before fellow junior Joe Breaux followed with a walk to place runners on first and second. A strikeout in the next at-bat went as the Tide’s second out of the frame, bringing Praytor to the dish for the Tide’s final opportunity. With the count even at 1-1, the UA backstop sent a single down the line in left to score both Vance and Breaux and secure the walkoff win for the Tide.
Praytor led the way for the Tide offensively, finishing 3-for-5 with a double and a home run to go with a team-high three RBI and two runs scored. Sophomore John Trousdale also contributed a multi-hit outing, finishing with a pair of doubles, three RBI, a walk and one run scored.
The duo of redshirt sophomore Davis Vainer and junior Sam Gardner shut down the JSU offense over the final three frames, holding the Gamecocks scoreless to give Alabama a chance to complete the comeback. Vainer entered in the seventh, throwing 2.0 innings of one-hit baseball while recording a career-high tying five strikeouts. Gardner (3-2) made his appearance in the ninth, earning him his third win of the season with 1.0 inning of work in which he retired the Gamecocks in order.
Alabama gained an early advantage on Tuesday, putting up five runs on four hits and an error in the first frame. Breaux started things off, with the junior being hit by a pitch with one down. Senior Chandler Avant followed with a single before the tandem pulled off the double steal. On the theft, the throw to second went into center field to allow Breaux to score the game’s first run. In that same at-bat, Praytor singled to put runners on the corners before a wild pitch moved Praytor into scoring position.
One out later, Hunter Alexander drew a walk with the senior loading the bases for the Tide. Trousdale followed, clearing the bases with a double off the wall in right to score three more. The next at-bat saw junior Matt Malkin plate one more with an RBI-single to center to set the score at 5-0 after one inning of play.
Jacksonville State answered in the second with four runs to narrow the gap to one at 5-4. A single followed by an RBI-double got the Gamecocks on the board before an error crossed one more and allowed the batter to reach. Jacksonville State’s next hitter homered to wrap up the inning’s scoring.
In the third, Alabama widened the gap once again with a pair of runs. Praytor led off with a solo homer to left, his third home run of the season. A hit-by-pitch placed junior Keith Holcombe aboard and one out later, a double to center from Trousdale gave the Tide two in scoring position and forced a JSU pitching change. Malkin made contact off the new arm, sending a 2-2 pitch deep to left for the sac fly to score one more and make it a 7-4 contest.
The Gamecocks answered right back in the top of the fourth, scoring two more to make it a one-run game again at 7-6, still in the Tide’s favor. A leadoff triple followed by a fielder’s choice plated one and a pair of singles eventually brought around one more. Jacksonville State then added a pair with a two-RBI single in the top of the sixth to gain their first lead of the day with the score at 8-7.
The two teams would go scoreless over the next two frames, but it was Alabama that would come out on top thanks to two runs in the bottom of the ninth to complete the comeback.
Next up for the Crimson Tide is a weekend trip to Baton Rouge to take on the LSU Tigers from May 11-13. The first two games of the series are scheduled for a 7 p.m. CT first pitch with the Sunday contest slated for 2 p.m. Friday and Sunday’s contests will air on SEC Network+ with the middle pairing showing nationally on SEC Network.