TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A gem of a start on the mound by Dylan Smith was the difference maker in Alabama baseball's 5-2 series-clinching victory over Missouri on Saturday.
Smith tied his career-high in innings pitched with eight, walked no batters while striking out 11 and allowed just two runs off of six hits.
"Dylan's the story of the game," Alabama coach Brad Bohannon put it succinctly. "Number one: he pitched great. You go 11 punch-outs and no walks against an SEC team in eight innings with few runs and that's just huge. It's no secret we needed it. We're banged up on the mound and it would've been a real stretch for us today and it'd really hurt us tomorrow if we had to go to the pen early.
"Dylan's had a great season and is really well ever time out and [has] given us a chance to win every time out and excited for him to get rewarded with a win today."
Missouri jumped ahead 1-0 in the top of the second with a one-out RBI-single to left field by catcher Tre Morris.
A leadoff solo home run by Alabama right fielder Will Hamiter in the bottom of the third tied the game up at one run apiece. In the bottom of the fourth, shortstop Jim Jarvis grounded out to second base, allowing first baseman Drew Williamson to cross the plate for the Crimson Tide's second run.
In the bottom of the fifth, left fielder Jackson Tate singled to left with the bases loaded, with Hamiter adding another run to Alabama's side of the scoreboard.
Missouri left fielder Brandt Belk put the Tigers down by just one run by stealing home plate with two outs in the top of the seventh, but it was too little, too late for Missouri.
In the bottom of the eighth, Alabama added two more runs off of a Jarvis triple and a sac-fly by center fielder Caden Rose.
In the top of the ninth, reliever Landon Green entered the game to close out the game for the Crimson Tide. Green finished by striking out two of his three batters faced to end the game and clinch the series for Alabama.
It was ultimately Smith that was the difference-maker on Saturday. Smith's 11 strikeouts and 111 pitches are both career highs for the junior.
"My goal today was to dominate those hitters and every batter that got in the box," Smith said. "I wanted to dominate those guys. What worked for me was I got ahead on a lot of those guys — pitched my fastball which helped my breaking ball play better and that's how I beat them."
Smith (1-5) was credited with his first win of the season while Green (2) picked up the save. Konnor Ash (1-2) for Missouri was saddled with the loss.
In the batter's box, Williamson was perfect on the day, batting 3-for-3 with two runs and a double. Tate also batted 3-for-4 with an RBI and a double.
"Offensively I'd like to recognize Drew Williamson and Jackson Tate," Bohannon said. "They had great days and some other guys did some good things, especially Jackson Tate. He's been in and out of the lineup and he's been a great teammate and he's always been ready when we've called upon him and certainly earned some more opportunities. Really happy for him and proud of him."
Alabama moves to 27-15 with the win and is now 10-10 in SEC play. Missouri drops to 12-28 and is now 5-15 in conference play.
The Crimson Tide and the Tigers will conclude their three-game series on Sunday (11 a.m. CT, SEC Network).
"Good win for us even though we were a little inefficient offensively," Bohannon said. "We left some meat on the bone today but was proud of our guys."