Alabama Into Winners Bracket After Upsetting No. 2 Tennessee
Smoke 'em if you got 'em!
The Alabama Crimson Tide pulled off a shocking win over the SEC East champion and No. 2 seeded Tennessee Volunteers 3-2 in an 11-inning battle. The Crimson Tide, after advancing into the double-elimination portion of the tournament by defeating South Carolina, pulled off a big upset that should help its standing with the NCAA Selection Committee.
The Crimson Tide gave up two Tennessee runs in the seventh inning to allow the Vols to tie the game. In the ninth inning the Vols loaded the bases only needing one run to win the game. Third baseman Jake Rucker grounded to shortstop Jim Jarvis who looked to dish it to Alabama second baseman Peyton Wilson for an inning ending double-play.
The out was successfully recorded at second however Wilson's throw carried first baseman William Hamiter off the base allowing Rucker to reach safely and Tennessee to win the game. However the umpire called interference on Tennessee second baseman Max Ferguson for obstructing Wilson's throw to first resulting in a double-play and extra-innings.
The Tide took advantage of the extra life in the 11th inning, senior catcher and First Team All-SEC member Sam Praytor ground-rule-doubled to start the inning. Zane Denton proceeded to strike out and then sophomore DH Owen Diodati singled into the outfield for the game's final run.
"I think part of it is just remembering it's just baseball and we're here to have fun, and baseball doesn't have to be so serious all the time. I think that's been a big change for me the last couple days. It's just about going out and having fun. I've made some small mechanical changes with Coach Bo and our hitting coach over the last couple of days that I think have helped me with the way I'm being pitched and things like that. It's been awesome winning these two games and being in a good position going forward in this tournament," said Diodati after the win.
For the second day in a row the Crimson Tide got outstanding efforts on the mound. Starter Jacob McNairy was able to pitch 4.2 scoreless-innings, allowing three hits with one walk and two strikeouts.
"Jacob got us off to a great start. He's coming off a little injury, and he threw two innings on Saturday against Mississippi State and looked great," said Alabama head coach Brad Bohannon. "Really we're just hoping to get two innings out of him today, and he had two quicker innings, and I said, hey, man, how do you feel? Do you think you could get one more? He did that, and then after the third, go tell him he's done, and he's like the most respectful, best kid in the world. Coach, why are you taking me out, man? I'm hitting my spots. I feel good. I can rest all summer. I said, well, all right, but you'll be on a short leash. So went back out and kept going and pitched great."
In relief "The Viper" Chase Lee went the final 4.2 innings giving up 2 unearned runs on six hits with three strikeouts. Lee came into the game in the seventh inning with runners on first and third with only one out and kept the Tide in the ballgame by only allowing two runs.
Diodati recorded the game-winning RBI for the Tide but Jackson Tate gave Alabama its first two runs. Tate put the ball on the ground in the second inning, scoring Denton and he drew a bases-loaded walk in the sixth to give Alabama the 2-0 lead. Tate now has five RBIs in the SEC Tournament.
No. 10 Alabama will face off with the No. 6 Florida Gators in the winners bracket tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. CT at the Hoover Met. The Gators defeated Kentucky 4-1 in their opening game and took down No. 3 seed Mississippi State 13-1 to advance to this point.
Alabama is guaranteed at least two more games as the Tide is currently 1-0 in double-elimination play. Alabama is expected to pitch junior Dylan Smith in the game. It will be televised on SECnetwork and broadcast on radio on Tide 100.9.
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