Baseball sweeps Friday doubleheader


Cody Estremera, Sports Editor

It had been over a year, but Alabama baseball has won its first SEC series of the year by sweeping South Carolina in a Friday doubleheader.

Alabama dominated in game one’s 9-0 win with Sam Finnerty’s best career performance and early offense, while solid pitching led to a 4-1 win in game two.

Game One

After a lackluster midweek game against Troy, it took three innings for Alabama to put away South Carolina.

The onslaught started immediately. Kolby Robinson led off with a single, who moved up 90 feet when Keith Holcombe drilled a ball towards the Gamecock first baseman resulting in a groundout. Robinson scored three pitches later when Morgan McCullough slapped a ball to right field.

Alabama scored two more runs in the frame, coming off a double by Brett Auerbach.

The second inning is where the game got away from the Gamecocks. Starter Daniel Lloyd, who had allowed nine walks in 13 1/3 innings this year, walked two and hit one batter to load the bases for McCullough, who singled in his final RBI of the game.

Tyler Gentry followed and fell into an 0-2 count. Lloyd left a pitch over the middle of the plate, and Gentry launched the pitch nearly into the street behind left field for a grand slam. It was the team’s first of the season.

The final run also scored by a home run, when T.J. Reeves blasted a 1-1 pitch more than halfway up the scoreboard in left.

“That’ll take a lot of pressure off your back,” pitcher Sam Finnerty said. “The lead early was huge.”

From there, it was Finnerty’s game.

Finnerty controlled the South Carolina bats the entire game, allowing just four hits across nine innings of work, for his first career complete game.

The complete game was the first for Alabama since its last 2018 win, where Jake Walters shutout Ole Miss.

After allowing a double to start the second inning, the senior retired 16-straight hitters before a double ended the streak in the seventh inning. He even struck out the side in the fifth inning. He finished with just 79 pitches.

“That’s one of Finn’s biggest strengths,” coach Brad Bohannon said. “He just attacks the hitters. He doesn’t try and avoid the bat.”

After throwing the eighth, he returned to the dugout, where Bohannon joked with him that someone else was going to pitch the ninth. Finnerty wasn’t as amused as his coach.

“I thought it was funny,” Bohannon said. ” When you can’t joke when you’re up nine to nothing then when can you ever joke?”

The win was Finnerty’s fifth win of the year, which is a new career high.

Game Two

Finnerty’s performance was a tough act to follow, but Brock Love didn’t have that problem. The right-handed pitcher dazzled for six innings, allowing two hits.

He finished with eight strikeouts, which is his second most this year.

“It’s got to give you confidence when you see someone else go out there and be successful,” Bohannon said on Love’s performance following Finnerty’s outing. “We’re all human right. If Finn had given up seven lasers in the first two innings, we’re probably like ‘If Finn can’t get them out, then how’s anyone going to get them out.’ I think that’s all human nature.”

Love ran into trouble in the seventh, when he allowed a leadoff home run and a single, ending his day. The home run insured that South Carolina wasn’t shutout in back-to-back games for the first time since 1980.

Jeremy Randolph came in to close the game. He threw the last three innings and allowed just two runners.

After the game was scoreless for the first three innings, Alabama gave itself a lead it wouldn’t give up.

It started with back-to-back singles by McCullough and Gentry. Both moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch.

With two runners in scoring position, Drew Williamson singled to left field, bringing in the first run. A couple of pitches later, Auerbach singled up the middle, scoring Gentry. Williamson moved to third on the single and scored when John Trousdale grounded into a fielder’s choice.

The lead remained three until the home run in the seventh, but Alabama quickly answered in the bottom of the frame. With one out, McCullough singled to left and stole his way to third. After a hit-by-pitch, Williamson singled in McCullough for the game’s final run.

Alabama looks for the sweep on Saturday at 1 p.m.