Alabama baseball splits doubleheader, but takes series against TennesseeBy Elliott Propes | 03/27/2016 1:04am
CW | Marie Walker
Alabama was going for the sweep Saturday night after winning earlier in the day 11-3. This game unlike the first two as it came down to the final inning. Tied 3-3 in the top of the ninth a bang-bang play at the plate decided it, as Tennessee took a 6-3 lead and held it to win game three of the series.
“It’s about winning series,” Gaspard said. “The biggest takeaway for me is that our pitching continues to pound the strike zone. That was a really good offense in Tennessee. They are top of the league in many categories and I thought we matched up well on the mound.”
Matt Foster was just one out away from advancing to the bottom of the ninth tied. Then Benito Santiago doubled to center field. Chris Hall then followed with a single to right. Chandler Taylor gunned one to Will Haynie at home, but Santiago swiped his hand across the plate before the tag was applied. Vincent Jackson tripled in two more runs later in the inning. For Alabama it is the second chance it has had to sweep after winning the first two games against LSU before losing game three in that series.
“You disappointed when you don’t sweep, when you have two opportunities, but the same time you’re 4-2 and we’ve played good baseball over six games,” Gaspard said.
The Volunteers took a lead early in every game and did so again scoring two runs in the first inning after a throwing error from Nick Eicholtz and an RBI single from Leno Ramirez. Tennessee added another run in the second inning. The game remained that score until the sixth inning. Then Alabama began to come back. Chandler Taylor hit a triple off the centerfield fence in the sixth inning, which set up an RBI single from Cobie Vance. Then in the seventh with runners on first and second, Connor Short doubled off of the left field chalk and brought in two runs to tie the game.
“We know there’s a lot of baseball left when you get down early, and you try to stay even-keel and have a lot of energy and I really think that helps us throughout the game,” Short said.
Earlier in the day, just like Friday night, Tennessee baseball grabbed the lead first against Alabama, but the Crimson Tide offense responded with 11 runs and won game two 11-3.
After a scoreless four innings, Tennessee was able to tack on a run in the fifth and sixth for a 2-0 lead. The Volunteers had the potential to score even more runs in that fifth inning when they had the bases loaded with one out, but Jake Walters was able to limit the damage to just one run. Walters finished with a line of 5.2 innings and two runs. Only one of the two runs was earned.
“I thought he was tremendous,” Gaspard said. “In the first four innings, he was really sharp. I thought he was really good. He just had that one inning. He did a great job of pitching around a couple of walks and hits.”
Alabama’s offense responded in the bottom of the sixth. After three walks in a row to begin the inning, Cody Henry hit a bases-clearing double down the left field line to give Alabama its first lead 3-2. Alabama would add another run that inning and then seven runs the next inning, highlighted by Haynie’s three-run homer off the scoreboard. Alabama scored all of its 11 runs in the two innings. Henry finished 2-5 with four RBIs.
“He had a couple of good at-bats where he squared them both up, one from the right side and the other from the left side,” Gaspard said. “I’ve had a couple of guys that have been scuffling a little bit, and Cody is one that has showed signs of getting out of it.”
Alabama will next play in Montgomery, Alabama on Tuesday against Auburn at 7 p.m.