Early Errors Don’t Stand in Way of Alabama Win
The Alabama Crimson Tide completed the sweep of the Murray State Racers on Sunday with a 5-4 win, even if it wasn't pretty. After a top of the third that was riddled with errors and an almost rally in the ninth by the Racers, Alabama squeaked by with its third win of the weekend.
“Today, we made a lot of mistakes and you know its good to have some adversity. Its good that we got to play through some of that stuff. I’m just really glad we did enough to get a win and to get a sweep," said coach Brad Bohannon after the close game.
Alabama had a lead after two innings, up 2-0 over MSU. Its two runs had come on a sacrifice fly from third baseman Zane Denton in the first which scored shortstop Jim Jarvis and a single from catcher Dominic Tamez that scored first baseman Drew Williamson.
Pitcher Grayson Hitt had given up no runs in the first two innings he pitched, but had already committed an error on a sacrifice bunt and thrown a wild pitch in the top of the second.
Things had to fall apart for Alabama in the top of the third before they could come back together in the fourth. A single followed by a wild pitch and a missed tag allowed Murray State second baseman Jordan Holly to score on a single by designated hitter Carson Garner.
A throwing error by Jarvis on a fielder's choice, his first error of the season, sent the ball into right field and allowed both Garner to advance to third. Third baseman Bryson Bloomer, who hit into the fielder's choice, then stole a base and Garner stole home after confusion caused Hitt to be late on a throw home. This put the Racers up 3-2, their first lead of the series.
Finally, Bloomer advanced to third on a balk by Hitt, before he finally got out of the inning thanks to a pop-up to first. After that, Alabama seemed to clean up their defensive mistakes except for an error by pitcher Luke Holman in the fourth.
"I was kind of watching to see how they responded," said Bohannon of what he was thinking after that rough half-inning.
"I felt like if every time that we make a couple of mistakes and I call the team together, you know I don't want them to think that there is any panic. I thought we did a good job of, just the way it felt, of playing through it. And we made way too many mistakes today, but you know you're not gonna play perfect every time, we've got to minimize the mistakes and spread them out a little bit. We played a little better defense in the back half of the game."
Hitt was done in this game after three innings with four hits, three runs given up, only one earned run, one walk, and four strikeouts. Holman came in and gave two innings of hitless and scoreless relief in the fourth and fifth innings, with three walks and three strikeouts.
The Alabama offense came alive again in the bottom of the fourth inning when second baseman Caden Rose hit a sacrifice fly that scored center fielder Andrew Pinckney and tied the game.
In the bottom of the sixth, designated hitter Eric Foggo sent a ball into the playset in left field, plating himself and Pinckney to bring the Alabama lead to 5-2.
Senior left-handed pitcher Brock Guffey came in and pitched the best three innings of the game to get the win, his second of the season. He faced the minimum nine batters and had one strikeout.
The Racers added a little more excitement in the top of the ninth when Alabama's Landon Green came in to attempt to secure his first save of the season. Green gave up a single and a walk, striking out one batter in between, before throwing three straight balls to MSU center fielder Jake Slunder.
Green was then replaced by Hunter Hoopes, pitching a second day in a row. Hoopes also brought some excitement, striking out Slunder from a 3-0 count and allowing a single which scored the Racers' fourth run to put the game within one. To end the threat and the game, he got Bloomer to fly out.
Alabama now moves to 9-4 on the season and will take on Middle Tennessee on Tuesday, March 8th at 3 p.m. CST.