Baseball clinches series win over Lipscomb following first loss of season


CW / Kelsey Mullins

Carey Reeder | @_CareyReeder, Staff Reporter

After Alabama baseball posted a season-low three hits in its first loss of the season on Saturday, junior Tyler Gentry was adamant about his club turning the loss into positive energy, and it seemed to resonate within the clubhouse.

Alabama (15-1) posted its second-highest run total of the year on Sunday, thumping the Bisons 14-2 to earn the series win and close the 10-game home stand at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The 16 combined runs on Sunday doubled the total amount of runs scored in the first two games of the series.

“I really didn’t [notice any difference in the clubhouse], and you don’t know how a group will respond to failure and these guys do a good job of just going to play,” Alabama coach Brad Bohannon said. “It felt the same way in the dugout today that it did yesterday [and] two weeks ago. The culture and environment deal is a real strength for this group.”

Sophomore T.J. Reeves did not play on Sunday after his ejection on Saturday. Home plate umpire Justin Beam, who tossed both Reeves and Bohannon the day before, was not in the rotation at third base and was replaced pregame by umpire Michael Kelly.

Senior Brett Auerbach continued to stay productive and extended his hitting streak to seven games, going 3 for 5 with four RBIs, two runs scored and two doubles. The two doubles pushed his total to eight on the year, and the senior was the only Crimson Tide player with a hit in all three games. His second-inning, bases-clearing double kicked off the scoring for Alabama.

Freshman starter Antoine Jean (3-0) threw five innings of four-hit baseball and gave up one run while striking out six batters. Four Crimson Tide relievers took the mound on Sunday: sophomore Dylan Smith, junior Ryan O’Connell, and seniors Dylan Oliver and Casey Cobb. Each threw one inning, and they combined for four hits, one run and two strikeouts on 16 batters faced.

“I think I’m fired up every game I pitch because I love to do it,” Jean said. “This game, with the series on the line, it was big for me to get the ball and do my best.”

Lipscomb exhausted all its pitching options throughout the series, most notably in Friday’s 13-inning marathon of a game. The lack of arms left the Bisons with two pitchers in the bullpen at the end of the game, one being their closer.

Alabama blew the game wide open in the fourth inning with a huge eight-run frame on just three hits. After a walk by freshman Jim Jarvis and a single by freshman Peyton Wilson, senior Kolby Robinson walked to load the bases for Auerbach for the second time in the game. Robinson’s three walks on Sunday were more than his season total entering Sunday. Auerbach was walked to earn the RBI, followed by freshman Owen Diodati’s sacrifice fly to plate another run.

Redshirt sophomore Sam Praytor was walked to push another run across, and two wild pitches scored two more. Junior Jackson Tate hit an RBI double, followed by Wilson’s two-RBI double to finish off the walk-filled inning for the Crimson Tide. Wilson went 2 for 5 in the game with a run scored.

Gentry’s weekend was interesting, to say the least. Alabama’s leading hitter was credited with eight at-bats through the three games but made 17 plate appearances. The junior amassed three walks, three intentional passes and three HBP in the weekend. As a team, Alabama earned 23 walks across the three-game series.

“We weren’t great offensively this weekend,” Bohannon said. “Some guys need to be a little more aggressive, and some guys need to slow down a little bit.”

Diodati, who was 0 for 10 in the series prior to his final at-bat in the seventh inning, launched his fifth home run of the season over the right-field wall and added two more RBIs.

The Crimson Tide will take a short trip to Birmingham on Tuesday for only its fourth road game of the season, taking on UAB. Tuesday is the final game for Alabama before it welcomes Missouri to town on Friday for its opening series of SEC play.

“I’m very proud of the way our guys responded to a tough game yesterday,” Bohannon said. “Lipscomb certainly helped us some today, and to our guys’ credit, they did a good job of taking advantage of it.”