Alabama’s sold out crowd lifts team to victory

Fans cheering against Nicholls State at Sewell-Thomas Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL on Friday, Jun 2, 2023.

By WVUA 23 Sports Reporter Juliet Brown

A sellout crowd of 5,800 fans packed The Joe for the first Regional the Crimson Tide has hosted in nearly two decades. Hundreds of fans lined up outside Sewell-Thomas Stadium over an hour before the first pitch crossed the plate. A rain delay pushed the start time for Alabama’s game against Nicholls back three hours from 6 p.m. to 9:10 p.m.

Alabama fans didn’t have much to cheer about until midway through the game. It was mainly a pitcher’s duel between Alabama’s Friday night starter Luke Holman and Nicholls’ Jacob Mayers. Other than MaCrae Kendrick’s solo home run, both offenses were fairly quiet. The Colonels led 1-0 until the fifth inning.

Alabama’s star freshman and home run leader Colby Shelton led off the fifth with a triple into right field which electrified the crowd. Ed Johnson drove him in the next at-bat with a sac-fly into center field. Suddenly, it felt like there was life in The Joe again.

Unfortunately, energy drained from the stadium in the sixth inning. Caden Rose tried to make the play against the centerfield fence, but it got away from him and allowed the Nicholls runner to advance to third base. A sac-fly allowed Edgar Alvarez to score. Holman worked his way out of the inning, but the Colonels retook the lead 2-1.

Alabama fans came back to life when Rose hit a leadoff double in the bottom of the sixth inning. A sac-bunt by Jarvis advanced Rose to third before Alabama’s RBI-leader Drew Williamson drove him home with a two-out double. Back-to-back walks loaded the bases, and Alabama fans were as rowdy as ever.

“The crowd was fantastic,” Jarvis said. “It’s so much fun playing in front of them.  They’re always into the game. The Florida game at the SEC Tournament, they were unreal, like firing us up as we were coming off the field, and tonight it was the same thing. They were matching the energy in the dug out, and it’s just a really special thing to play in front of them.”

Kade Woods took over for Holman in the seventh and gave up a solo home run to the leadoff hitter; however, he bounced back and struck out the next three to end the inning.

Woods recorded the first two outs of the eighth before walking a batter. Alabama interim head coach Jason Jackson decided to bring in Alton Davis II with an 0-1 count and a runner on first. Davis emerged as the Crimson Tide’s closer as the season went on. After giving up a walk off home-run in his last outing against Florida, Davis struck out three of the four batters he faced and gave his offense the chance to win it in the ninth inning.

“I just wanted to go out there, get the three outs… and let the next couple guys in the lineup come out ther and get us a hit,” the true freshman, Davis, said.

Lead off walks usually don’t bode well for defenses, and Alabama capitalized on William Hamiter’s leadoff walk. A sac-bunt moved Hamiter to second for Jarvis. With two-outs, the senior came up huge and hit a walk off single to score Hamiter. The crowd erupted.

The rain delay and rollercoaster of a game was all worth it. Alabama fans watched their team win a Regional at home (4-3) for the first time since the Crimson Tide beat Troy on June 4, 2006.

Alabama ironically plays Troy Saturday at 8 p.m. The game will stream on ESPN+.

Categories: Alabama, College Sports, Local News, Sports