Alabama baseball gears up for Winston-Salem Super Regional

The University of Alabama Baseball Team celebrates against Troy at Sewell-Thomas Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL on Saturday, Jun 3, 2023.

By WVUA 23 Sports Reporter Juliet Brown

Its been quite the journey for Alabama baseball team over the last month.

The Crimson Tide fired its head coach Brad Bohannon on May 5 over his alleged involvement with suspicious betting activity. At the time, most people counted Alabama out for hosting an NCAA Regional, let alone even making a Super Regional.

The players didn’t let the rumors and chaos surrounding their head coach affect their play, however, and went on to win 13 of their last 17 games.

The same day that Bohannon was terminated, Alabama hosted then-No.5 Vanderbilt. The Crimson Tide destroyed the Commodores in the first game, 11-2 and took two-of-three to win the weekend series.

Fast forward a month and Alabama just hosted its first NCAA Regional since 2006, and advanced out of a Regional for the first time since 2010.

“We’ve all got a lot closer in the last month, and we all just know that its us against the world,” Alabama catcher Mac Guscette said. “I mean we’ve just been battling our tails off.”

This weekend, Alabama will travel to Winston-Salem, NC to face No. 1 Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons have one of the best pitching staffs in the country.

“It jumps off the page at their pitching numbers,” said Alabama Interim Head Coach Jason Jackson. “They play in a ballpark that is known as one of the more offensive ballparks in the country, and for them to put up those kind of pitching numbers speaks volumes of what they’ve done on the mound. I think they’re starting rotation really jumps out at you.”

Wake Forest pitcher Rhett Lowder ranks second in the nation in earned run average (1.77) and ranks in the top 10 in every other major pitching category, according to Lowder has a perfect 14-0 record in the 16 games he’s started (101.2 IP). Seth Keener has a 2.23 ERA and a 7-1 record in 21 games, including seven starts which ranks second on the team. Josh Hartle rounds out the trio of Wake’s best starting pitchers. Hartle has a 2.59 ERA and a 10-2 record in 15 starts. Camden Minacci appears to be the Demon Deacons’ go-to closer. He has a 2.83 ERA and 12 saves on the year. He’s struck out 44 hitters in only 28.2 innings of work.

The Deacons offense is also lethal.  Wake scored 48 runs during the Regional alone. Nick Kurtz leads the team in batting average (.384) and is second on the team in home runs (23) and runs scored (73). The Deacons leadoff hitter, Tommy Hawke, has 86 hits on the year, including 18 doubles.

Alabama isn’t afraid of dynamic offenses or facing lights out pitchers. Playing in the SEC against the best teams in the country week in and week out prepared the team well.

“I mean we’ve had to go on the road and play the number one team probably two or three times this year, honestly, if you think about it going to the SEC,” Alabama pitcher Garrett McMillan said. “It’s not going to be anything we haven’t done before. It’s gping to be something we’re ready for and something that we’re excited for. I think we’ll go out there and play our best game, and I think we’ll be happy with the results at the end of it.”

The Crimson Tide went up against the best pitcher in the country, LSU’s Paul Skenes, and managed to record 5 hits and one run. At the time, LSU was ranked No. 1 team and Alabama went head-to-head with the Tigers in every game that weekend.  Two of the three games were decided by two runs, and Alabama had pretty big leads early in two of them.

All this to say, the Crimson Tide won’t be intimidated heading into the Super Regionals. Alabama should have its three weekend starters at full health and everyone in the batting lineup healthy as well. The Super Regional format is best out of three. Game one is set for Saturday with the first pitch at 11 a.m. It will air on ESPN.

Categories: Alabama, College Sports, Sports