Baseball handles Jacksonville State in first midweek contest

Alabama right-hander Jacob McNairy fires a pitch in the Crimson Tide’s 6-3 victory over the Jacksonville State Gamecocks on Feb. 22 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Courtesy of UA Athletics

Alabama right-hander Jacob McNairy fires a pitch in the Crimson Tide’s 6-3 victory over the Jacksonville State Gamecocks on Feb. 22 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Austin Hannon, Staff Reporter

After sweeping Xavier last weekend to start the season, the Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0) downed the Jacksonville State Gamecocks (0-4) 6-3 in their first of two games this week.

The Crimson Tide had a complete performance Tuesday afternoon, utilizing both their hot bats as well as a strong pitching start from senior Jacob McNairy to hold off their in-state foe.

“Really, really pleased with our club today,” head coach Brad Bohannon said. “I feel like we took another step forward. Really complete game. As we’re playing more, we’re playing better. We came out hot and scored in the first four innings. I thought it was a good day for us.”

Third baseman Zane Denton and first baseman Drew Williamson both accounted for doubles, and Williamson was one of five players to drive in runs. William Hamiter, Owen Diodati, Bryce Eblin and Andrew Pinckney all tallied RBIs.

McNairy went five full innings and allowed just one run. The right-hander from Athens, Alabama, pitched to contact, giving up five hits while recording just three strikeouts. He suffered two walks, but he did his job, exiting the game with a four-run lead.

“Jacob obviously set the tone defensively,” Bohannon said.

The Gamecocks had offensive opportunities, but a program-record five double plays from Alabama did them in. Both teams finished the game with nine hits.

“The only thing about five double plays is maybe you got a few too many people on base,” Bohannon said. “I have been very confident in the defense since day one. I’m not surprised. I expect us to play really high-level defense this year.”

McNairy said the double plays weren’t surprising. 

“They do it in practice every day,” McNairy said. “It was nothing that we haven’t seen. I know when a ground ball is hit to them, they’re gonna make a play. I usually just start to walk back to the dugout once they hit it.”

The Crimson Tide jumped out to a quick start, with Hamiter grounding out in the first inning to bring in Williamson.

In the second, Alabama scored two runs. Tommy Seidl reached home plate on a wild pitch, and Eblin brought in Jim Jarvis on a groundout to second base.

Diodati, the hero from opening day, ripped a base hit into left-center field to bring Denton in during the bottom of the third, extending the Alabama lead to 4-0. 

Jacksonville State catcher Carson Crowe responded with a solo home run in the top of the fourth to put a dent in the Crimson Tide advantage.

Williamson recorded his second hit of the ballgame in the bottom half of the fourth inning, spraying a ball down the right field line to bring Eblin in to score.

Braylon Myers took over for McNairy in the sixth, and it didn’t end well. Myers hit a batter and later allowed a home run in his first inning of work. The home run came off the bat of Gamecock infielder Alex Strachan, who got the clubhouse going, cutting the Crimson Tide lead to two.

From there, it was a breeze for the Crimson Tide bullpen. Alabama held Jacksonville State scoreless in the final three innings. Hunter Hoopes pitched two scoreless innings and got the save for Alabama.

“We’ve made good progress day by day, and we need to take another step forward tomorrow because we’re really going to be tested this weekend,” Bohannon said. “You’re going to go on the road and play a team that’s really talented. I’m just excited to see how we respond to that environment and getting punched in the mouth a little bit. We need to play a really, really good team so that we can see what we need to work on.”

Tuesday’s win was another step toward playing the No. 1 Texas Longhorns in Austin, Texas, this weekend. The Crimson Tide will face the Alabama State Hornets Wednesday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. First pitch is set for 3 p.m. CT on SEC Network+.