Baseball wins first SEC series since late-March 2018


CW/ Hannah Saad

Cody Estremera, Sports Editor

Alabama baseball’s 2019 SEC schedule has been brutal. It has included road trips to the No. 7 and 24 teams in the country while hosting the No. 9 team in the country.

The Crimson Tide’s six remaining SEC series are against teams ranked in the top 25, with the lowest-ranked team sitting at No. 15. This past weekend, Alabama faced South Carolina in a series both teams needed to win, as both were just 2-7 in conference.

Alabama won the series by winning a Friday doubleheader but failed to sweep, losing in extra innings on Saturday.

Game One

After scoring seven runs in the three-game series, Alabama needed three frames to surpass that total in its 9-0 win against South Carolina.

The bottom of the first inning started with a leadoff single by Kolby Robinson, who moved to second on a Keith Holcombe groundout. He scored three pitches later when Morgan McCullough singled to right field.

With runners on second and first, Brett Auerbach smoked a 2-2 pitch to center field, scoring both runners. Alabama added five more runs in the bottom of the second. The Crimson Tide loaded the bases by drawing a pair of walks and getting hit by a pitch.

McCullough singled to center to drive in the first run. Tyler Gentry did the rest of the damage when he launched an 0-2 pitch over the jungle gym in left field for a grand slam. TJ Reeves scored the last run when he hit a home run that hit halfway up the scoreboard.

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

Outside of the scoring, Finnerty was the story of the game. The senior right-hander threw all nine innings in just 79 pitches. During the middle innings of the game, he retired 16 straight hitters.

“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.”

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

Game Two

The Crimson Tide continued its success in a 4-1 win in game two. Starter Brock Love followed Finnerty’s performance with a standout game.

The right-hander dominated for the first six innings, allowing just two hits.

“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.”

He reached a new high in pitches with his first pitch of the seventh inning, which was sent over the left field wall for the Gamecocks’ only run of the day. Senior Jeremy Randolph came in shortly after the home run and allowed two runners over the last three innings. Just as it did in game one, Alabama scored first, as it put up three runs in the fourth inning.

The inning began with back-to-back singles. After a wild pitch that moved both runners up 90 feet, Drew Williamson singled to left, bringing in a run. A single by Auerbach scored the second run, while a fielder’s choice plated the final run of the frame.

Alabama added a run in the seventh.

Game Three

Game three was the outlier in the series.

South Carolina started the game with a single. After a flyout, a TJ Hopkinson single got behind Holcombe, allowing Hopkinson to reach third. He scored by a single.

The Gamecocks added to their lead in the fourth. The inning started with a double, followed by a single. After two consecutive outs, George Callil singled to left, scoring in the first run, while the second runner reached the plate by a single to left-center field.

Alabama cut the deficit in half in the third inning. With two runners on, Holcombe doubled to right field, scoring a pair. Alabama added another pair in the fifth when McCullough singled to right with two runners in scoring position. The game remained tied until the 12th inning.

With a runner on first, Randolph entered the game. He struck out the first batter he faced, but on the strikeout, the runner on first stole second. He moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on the second wild pitch of the inning.

“It’s the first time that we’ve used him on back-to-back days, and we extended him a little bit yesterday,” Bohannon said. “Jeremy is a grown man. … He wants the ball every single day. He just wasn’t sharp.”