TUSCALOOSA, Ala.— Despite trailing early, pinstripe-donned Alabama quickly recovered and managed to pull out a 4-3 victory in extra innings to even its weekend series against Stetson on Saturday afternoon.
Junior Dylan Smith started for Alabama and after yielding a stream of singles, ended up having a career day and gave the Crimson Tide a chance to pull out the win.
"Both starters were just outstanding," Crimson Tide coach Brad Bohannon said, "Just two older guys that know how to pitch and that's pretty refreshing in today's baseball."
Sophomore third baseman Zane Denton hit his second home run of the weekend in the second inning. A laser to left leveled the score and provided a spark for the Alabama offense that was eager to start fast agains Stetson starter Chris Gonzalez.
After sophomore Owen Diodati was hit by a pitch, right fielder Andrew Pinckney and shortstop Jim Jarvis played a large role offensively in the inning, supplying two singles as ammunition in the three-run frame.
An up-and-down first and second inning preceded Smith finding his groove. He allowed one hit in the next two innings to inch closer to his second win of the season, though that proved difficult. The top of the fifth was big for the Hatters, as back-to-back RBIs came home from a single and double from outfielder Andrew MacNeil and third baseman Kyle Ball.
"He is just scratching the surface," Bohannon said, "He's been probably the best of all the guys to this point, and he's pitched really deep in every game, which is what you really need especially for the Saturday of a weekend."
The two teams were even in hits and runs going into the seventh inning until sophomore Peyton Wilson hit a two-out single just over the third baseman's head. It proved to be uncostly, despite left fielder William Hamiter singling to right field and advancing Wilson to third immediately after. A line-out from catcher Sam Praytor ended the inning and, more importantly, prevented Alabama from recapturing its lead entering the eighth.
But they would get another chance.
Smith trotted out to the mount to begin the eighth on 87 pitches, and following an immaculate inning with only nine pitches thrown in the seventh. Two quick outs, including centerfielder Caden Rose's second diving catch of the game, kept his pitch count low and kept the Hatters from reaching base.
"I just attacked the hitters and attacked the zone with my best stuff," Smith said, "It's [immaculate inning] very incredible, but it's part of baseball"
Stetson's Gonzalez returned to the mound in the bottom of the eighth and was tasked with retiring the four-, five- and six- hitters in the Alabama batting order
He did just that, leaving the ninth to Alabama reliever Chase Lee who replaced Smith after his 10-strikeout start.
"Obviously, for us, Chase was just outstanding in relief … four scoreless, hitless innings," Bohannon said.
"This adversity that we have faced is really positive and … you can go either way when you face adversity."
With lefty reliever Nick Chiseri in the game, Hamiter led off the inning with a single up-the-middle, setting things up for Praytor. The redshirt junior walked, putting a runner in scoring position for Drew Williamson. An attempted sac bunt won the game, as Chiseri overthrew the first baseman.
"We're 13-3 ... I'd like to be 16-0," Bohannon said.
Lee got the win and moved to 4-0 on the season.
The rubber match is Sunday at 1 p.m. CT.