Alabama baseball dropped its first game of the weekend at No. 2 Vanderbilt on Friday night, seeing the Commodores take the victory 9-6.
The Crimson Tide held multi-run leads on two occasions in the game, but a solid day at the plate for Vanderbilt was the ultimate difference maker inside Hawkins Field.
“I thought tonight’s game was a really good battle that could have gone either way," Alabama head coach Brad Bohannon said. "To Vanderbilt’s credit, they answered both times we scored and were able to get a couple of balls up into the jet stream with runners on base and that was the difference in the game.”
On the mound for Alabama was junior right-hand pitcher Tyler Ras. Starting for Vanderbilt was junior Kumar Rocker, a future first-round draft pick in the MLB and also a right-hander.
Despite Rocker's status as being one of the top pitchers in college baseball, Alabama was the first team on the board when second baseman Peyton Wilson singled to right field in the top of the third, scoring shortstop Jim Jarvis and bringing center fielder Caden Rose to third. One out later, third baseman Zane Denton doubled down the right field line, bringing both Jarvis and Rose home for a three-run Crimson Tide lead.
While the Alabama bats gave Rocker trouble in the top of the inning, Vanderbilt responded in kind against Ras in the bottom of the third, with an RBI-single by center fielder Enrique Bradfield Jr. putting the Commodores on the board. Back-to-back home runs by shortstop Carter Young and first baseman Dominic Keegan added three more Vanderbilt runs, putting the Commodores ahead 4-3 at the end of the third.
In the top of the fourth, Jarvis earned a walk on a wild pitch with first baseman Drew Williamson at third and left fielder T.J. Reeves at second. The wild pitch advanced both runners, bringing Williamson across the plate and tying the game. A sac-fly RBI by Wilson scored Reeves and an RBI-single by right fielder Will Hamiter put the Crimson Tide on top 6-4 heading into the bottom of the fourth.
Vanderbilt wasn't finished with back-to-back home runs, though. A three-run home run by Bradfield followed by another home run by Keegan put the Commodores up 8-6 and in full control at the end of four.
After the completion of the fourth, Ras' day was done. Facing 21 batters in four complete innings, Ras allowed eight runs off of eight hits, walked one and struck out just two.
With a new pitcher on the mound in redshirt-junior William Freeman, the Crimson Tide hoped to hold the Commodore bats at bay and attempt a comeback. However, Bradfield hit his second RBI-single of the night, increasing the Vanderbilt lead to three runs.
Alabama was able to hold Vanderbilt to no more runs, but the Commodores were also able to do the same to the Crimson Tide.
Rocker (11-1) was credited with the win for Vanderbilt while closer Nick Maldonado (4) picked up the save.
Ras (6-2) was saddled with the loss for Alabama.
With the loss, the Crimson Tide drops to 28-16 overall and is now 11-11 in the SEC. The Commodores are now 33-10 and are 15-7 in the conference.
Alabama will attempt to tie the series at Vanderbilt on Saturday (2 p.m. CT, SEC Network+).