TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Down by as much as five runs in the third inning, Alabama baseball rallied on Friday night in Sewell-Thomas Stadium, overcoming Missouri 11-8 and taking an initial series lead over the Tigers.
Five RBIs between catcher Sam Praytor and second baseman Peyton Wilson along with a solid bullpen effort helped propel Alabama to the victory.
“What a crazy game today,” Alabama coach Brad Bohannon said. “Not exactly how we drew it up pregame. I’m just so proud of our guys. The amount of times that we’ve gotten down early and just kept playing and kept competing just speaks to the culture of our program and the intangibles of a lot of the kids on our team."
Missouri jumped out to a four-run lead in the top of the first, with the first two runs of the game coming off of a two-RBI double by Tigers left fielder Brandt Belk. Alabama responded with two runs of its own in the bottom of the first thanks to a pair of solo home runs. The first home run came off of the bat of Wilson in the leadoff spot, while shortstop Zane Denton hit his just fair past the right-field foul pole.
Between the second and the third innings, Missouri added three more runs to its lead to increase the margin to 7-2. However, in the bottom of the second, Alabama Praytor hit a two-run home run over the fence in left field to cut the Tigers' lead down to three runs.
Missouri responded with an RBI-double by first baseman Torin Montgomery in the fourth. However, it would be the last run that the Tigers would score.
An RBI-single to right center by Denton led off Alabama scoring in the fifth. Praytor grounded out into a double play, but Will Hamiter managed to score and put the Crimson Tide down by just two runs.
In the bottom of the sixth, Alabama rallied with three runs to take a 9-8 lead — its first lead of the night. A single by Caden Rose put Drew Williamson across the plate for a run. Rose later advanced to third, then scored on a wild pitch. A double down the right-field line by Wilson scored shortstop Jim Jarvis for the go-ahead run.
The Crimson Tide increased its lead in the bottom of the eighth with an RBI-single from Praytor. Another Alabama run crossed the plate when left fielder Jackson Tate reached on a fielder's choice, with pinch runner Andrew Pinckney scoring the 11th run for Alabama.
At the end of the night, Praytor finished the game batting 3-for-5 with one run and three RBIs. Wilson also had a solid night from the batter's box, batting 3-for-4 with three runs and two RBIs.
Denton also finished the game with two runs and two RBIs off of two hits.
While starting pitcher Tyler Ras had a rough day on the mound for the Crimson Tide, allowing all eight of Missouri's run, the Alabama bullpen came through. Senior right handed pitcher William Freeman pitched three shutout innings and allowed just one hit while striking out three batters. Reliever Landon Green pitched one inning and allowed now hits while striking out one batter.
Closer Chase Lee entered the game in the top of the ninth and struck out two of the three batters he faced.
"I thought Tyler Ras just had some awful luck in the first inning," Bohannon said. "There was one ball that was hit hard and you look up and we’re down 4-0 before we even get to swing the bat and just thought it was huge that we responded there in the first. Ras wasn’t sharp and we’re really banged up on the mound — kind of short-handed there. Sometimes you want to take care of your guy when you can see that he’s not sharp but we just needed some innings so probably ran with him a little longer than we normally would have.
"Just proud of the bullpen for picking him up because Tyler’s been such a big part of our team’s success this year and I thought it was kind of fitting that the hitters and the bullpen picked him up today because he’s carried us so much."
Freeman (1-1) was credited with the win for the Crimson Tide while Lee (5) picked up the save. Jacob Kush (2-1) was saddled with the loss for Missouri.
With the win, Alabama improves to 26-15 on the season and is 9-10 in the SEC. Missouri drops to 13-27 with the loss and is 5-14 in the conference.
"Regardless of what happens moving forward, I just couldn’t be more proud of this group and I thought tonight was a great example," Bohannon said.
The Crimson Tide and the Tigers will resume its three-game series on Saturday (2 p.m. CT, SEC Network+).