Alabama advances to regional tournament championship in wild finish
Alabama came up with the plays at the end, scoring four runs with two out in the ninth inning for a come-from-behind win over Troy, 11-8. With the victory, the Crimson Tide advance to the championship round of the Tuscaloosa Regional Tournament.
Down to its final out, Alabama’s Tommy Seidl reached on a throwing error by Troy’s shortstop with two runs scoring on the play. Instead of closing out a 8-7 victory, Troy found itself trailing 9-8.
Alabama added two more runs to take a 11-8 lead and Hueytown-native Alton Davis II retired Troy in the bottom of the ninth inning to notch his eighth save of the season.
“This was a heck of a ballgame. It was two really talented teams, two talented offenses and the crowd and atmosphere was great,” said Alabama Interim Head Coach Jason Jackson. “It was a back-and-forth game, and I’m super proud of our guys. They fought all night and kept believing down to the last out in the ninth.”
Alabama struck first in the second inning. Ed Johnson led off with a single to right field. Mac Guscette reached base on a fielder’s choice before Caden Rose hit a two-run homer into the Right Field Ragers. Tommy Seidl doubled in the inning but was left stranded after Andrew Pinckney struck out.
The Trojans responded in the bottom of the third and took the lead with five runs on five hits. Alabama’s starting pitcher Garrett McMillan found himself in a jam early in the inning after the first two batters he faced each hit singles. McMillan then walked Clay Stearns to load the bases with no outs. Kole Myers hit into a double play but one run scored and a runner advanced to third. Ethan Kavanagh hit an RBI single with two outs. Caleb Bartolero singled into left field which put two on with two outs for William Sullivan. Sullivan hit a 3-run bomb into left field to give the Trojans a 5-2 lead going into the fourth.
The Crimson Tide bats stayed hot in the fourth and scored four more runs. Guscette led off with a single through the left side. Rose hit a double that just stayed fair inside the left field line to put runners at second and third for the number one hole hitter, Jim Jarvis. Jarvis hit an RBI-single into center field with no outs. Seidl singled to left field, allowing Rose to score. Jarvis advanced to third and then scored on two of many errors made by the Trojans’ defense. Seidl advanced to third base on what would be Troy’s third error of the inning.
Pinckney earned a walk which triggered a pitching change from the Trojan coaches. Kristian Asbury came in to relieve Logan Ross who was dealing with an open blister on his throwing hand. Asbury forced a sac-fly that advanced Seidl to third. Tamez singled to right center with one out which allowed Seidl to score and move Pinckney to second before he was thrown out trying to take third base. A strikeout ended the inning, stranding two on base. Alabama retook the lead 6-5 heading into the fifth inning.
Meyers hit a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth to tie things back up. That home run ended McMillan’s night, giving way to the freshman, Aidan Moza.
Not one to be out done, Pinckney hit a no-doubter over the scoreboard for a solo home run to put Alabama back in front in the sixth.
Moza ran into trouble in his second inning of work, similar to McMillan. The first three batters all hit singles which loaded the bases quickly with no outs. Shane Lewis hit an RBI-single to keep bases loaded with no outs. Moza struck out the next batter for a crucial first out of the inning. Meyers hit a sac-fly into the outfield which allowed one run to score but got another important out. Moza struck out another batter to minimize the damage. Troy took an 8-7 lead into the seventh inning.
Alabama’s offense struggled to get the key hit in the eighth inning with runners on the corners. With their backs against the wall, the Crimson Tide needed a run desperately to keep the game going or win it.
Pinch hitter Will Hodo and Rose got Alabama’s rally started in the ninth inning with a pair of one-out walks. The Tide’s Jarvis hit a sacrifice fly to put runners at second and third with two away, and set the stage for the play that changed the game. Seidl’s routine ground ball was fielded cleanly by Troy’s Tremayne Cobb Jr. but his throw got past first baseman William Sullivan, allowing Hodo and Rose to score, giving Alabama the lead.
Pinckney followed that wild sequence up with a triple off the right fielder’s glove which allowed another run to cross. Troy intentionally walked Alabama’s RBI leader, Drew Williamson. Tamez hit a two-out RBI which scored Pinckney, giving Alabama an 11-8 lead.
Alabama’s star closer, Davis pitched a near-perfect ninth inning. He got Troy’s Kavanagh to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.
Alabama will play the winner of Troy vs. Boston College in the Tuscaloosa Regional Championship on Sunday evening. The Trojans and Eagles play an elimination game on Sunday at 2 p.m., with the winner advancing to play Alabama in the regional finals at 8 p.m. Whichever team Alabama plays will have to beat the it twice to capture the Tuscaloosa Regional Championship.