HOOVER, Ala. — Alabama got the win it so desperately needed for its NCAA regional dreams in the first round of 2021 SEC Baseball Tournament on Tuesday afternoon, rolling to a 9-3 victory over No. 24 South Carolina.
"Really good game for us all the way around," Crimson Tide coach Brad Bohannon said. "Obviously, a big game and a big win. Quite certain our season would have been over if we'd lost today."
Tenth-seeded Alabama took advantage of command issues from Gamecocks starter CJ Weins (1-0, 1.93 ERA) in the third inning, where he threw four wild pitches, walked two batters and gave up an RBI-double to Alabama second baseman Peyton Wilson.
Weins tossed 54 total pitches in 2.2 innings before he was relieved by left hander John Gilreathn, who proceeded to give up a two-run RBI-single to Alabama's Owen Diodati and a three-run home run to left fielder Jackson Tate — the first two batters he faced.
That six-run frame set the pace for the Crimson Tide's dominating performance.
On the mound, Alabama was powered by Tyler Ras (6-4, 5.42 ERA), who petitioned to get the start from coach Brad Bohannon beforehand.
The junior right-hander was credited with the win after he hurled six innings, struck out four batters and only gave up five hits and one walk on 84 pitches. Ras' only runs given up came via the bats of South Carolina second baseman Braylen Wimmer and designated hitter Wes Clarke.
Wimmer cranked a two-run shot over the left-center field wall in the fourth inning, while Clarke smashed a ball into the parking lot behind left field in the sixth.
"Tyler Ras gave us just a huge start of good innings and also going deep in the game on a little short rest," Bohannon added. "He's been a rock for us... Just real proud of him."
The Crimson Tide's All-SEC catcher Sam Praytor added sacrifice files in the fourth and sixth innings. Wilson, the second-team All-SEC middle infielder, had an outstanding day at the plate going 3-for-5 with two doubles.
"The last couple weeks for me have been the best," Wilson said. "I just got out there and honestly just started having some fun. I just kind of pressed it a little bit and not seeing the ball as good as I could. So I just kind of let the ball travel, taking balls, and going out there and having fun, honestly. Letting my hands work and not worrying about outcomes or anything like that. Just kind of put bat on ball and just have fun, and whatever happens happens, honestly.
"That was kind of my mindset going into the week, just do whatever I can to help my team out and have fun with it."
Alabama senior pitcher Brock Guffey came on to relieve Ras in the seventh and went three innings. He struck out one batter on two hits and one walk.
"Brock Guffey did a great job for three innings of putting up zeros and helping us save our bullpen," Bohannon said.
Alabama advances to the double-elimination portion of the bracket and will face the No. 2 seed Tennessee on Wednesday at 1 p.m (CT), The game will be televised on the SEC Network.
"The kids were excited," Bohannon said. "We had a really spirited workout yesterday. I'm not surprised at all that our kids brought their best effort today. Made a couple of diving plays, clean defense, and some production up and down the lineup. So just a really complete game for us and really happy for the kids and proud of them and excited that we get to play at least two more days."