HOOVER, Ala. — Alabama baseball looked like a team that had run out of gas on Friday morning against No. 4 Tennessee at the Hoover Met in the fourth round of the 2021 SEC tournament.
The Volunteers jumped on Crimson Tide right-hander Landon Green (3-1, 2.96 ERA) in the second inning via a two-run homer by first baseman Luc Lipcius in route to a dominating 11-0 victory in seven innings.
"Congratulations to Tennessee," Alabama coach Brad Bohannon said postgame. "Great team. Really came out to play today and took it to us ...
"You play a legit top five team like Tennessee, and your margin for error is pretty slim. You've got to execute pitches consistently. You've got to defend the field at a high level, and you've got to string together some good tough at bats. I'm not sure we did well enough in those three areas today."
Green couldn't manage to escape the third after a hit by pitch, an RBI double from second baseman Max Ferguson and an RBI single from Drew Gilbert to make Tennessee's lead 4-0.
The final line on the Helena, Ala. product was a loss in 2 1/3 innings pitched, six earned runs on five hits and two strikeouts.
While the Crimson Tide's bats struggled to find any consistency for the second day in a row, only recording two hits, Tennessee didn't have any issues at all putting lumber on the ball. The Volunteers amassed 11 hits and a total of four home runs.
Two errors by the Alabama defense didn't help either.
Tennessee left-fielder Evan Russell cranked a two-run shot to left field in the fourth, while shortstop Liam Spence and Ferguson went deep back-to-back to leadoff the sixth.
Alabama junior right-hander Connor Shamblin was charged with giving up the Volunteers’ other five runs on six hits, after hurling 2 2/3 innings. During his only appearance of the SEC tournament he struck out five batters and walked one.
Redshirt-senior reliever William Freeman, who pitched during the Crimson Tide's 3-2 win against these same Volunteers on Wednesday, tossed the final two innings and struck out one.
Meanwhile, Volunteers starter Blade Tidwell (7-3, 3.74 ERA) was nearly untouchable for his six shutout innings. He walked two Crimson Tide batters but struck out five on 95 total pitches before handing the ball over to sophomore left-hander Kirby Connell who retired the side in the seventh.
"Tidwell was outstanding today," Bohannon said. "He's going to be a real problem in this league for the next few years."
Alabama's All-SEC First Team catcher Sam Praytor was all of the Crimson Tide's offense going 2-for-3 at the plate with two singles.
"That definitely didn't go how we planned to go," Praytor said. "We fought the whole way. No one thought we'd make it this far in the tournament, and we fought the whole year. That's definitely not the way we wanted to go out of the tournament, but we'll see what happens."
The Crimson Tide finishes the season with a record of 31-24 overall and 14-19 in SEC play, while the Volunteers move on to the semifinal round against Florida on Saturday (12 p.m, SEC Network). Alabama now has a long wait until Monday morning, when the 64-team NCAA tournament field is announced at 11 a.m (CT) on ESPN2.
Bohannon's squad is sitting on the bubble and has not made an NCAA regional since 2014.
"Regardless of what happens going forward, this has been as enjoyable of a group I've ever been a part of," Bohannon said. "Really proud of the effort the kids gave throughout the year. They had every chance to point fingers and to flinch and to crack and never really did. Really hopeful, obviously, that we get to spend at least another week together."