TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A walk-off home run by sophomore third baseman Zane Denton elevated No. 25 Alabama baseball over McNeese State 4-3 in Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
With the win, Alabama clinched the first series of the 2021 season.
"What an amazing game — an amazing day — for both teams," Crimson Tide coach Brad Bohannon said after the game. "I thought McNeese played a great game. I mean, there were web gems all over the field and they made us earn everything that we got."
While Alabama's pitching remained steadily consistent, the Crimson Tide's bats were relatively silent through the first six innings.
McNeese State opened the scoring in the fifth when redshirt-junior catcher Tre Obregon III doubled to right-center field, bringing redshirt-senior right fielder Clayton Rasbeary home.
An inning later, in the top of the sixth, the Cowboys added two more runs when redshirt-senior second baseman Nate Fisbeck hit a two-out double down the right field line to bring in runners from first and second.
"I thought we squared some balls up the first few innings and just didn't get rewarded for it and the didn't walk us, they didn't hit us, they defended the field and it's a really good lesson for our guys," Bohannon said. "Sometimes you have to play from behind, sometimes in the short term the ball's not going to bounce your way."
The Crimson Tide was finally able to get on the board in the bottom of the seventh when Denton — who celebrated his 20th birthday on Saturday — singled up the middle, bringing sophomore left fielder William Hamiter home.
Heading into his final two at-bats, Denton recalled after the game that the feeling in the dugout was a little weary.
"The energy was definitely down a little bit," Denton said. "They had some good pitching earlier in the day but I knew once we got one run that momentum would change a little bit and obviously Diodati's home run gave us a lot of momentum. I just tried to do what I could."
An inning later in the bottom of the eighth, sophomore center fielder Owen Diodati crushed a two-run home run over the right-center field wall to tie the game at three runs apiece.
In the bottom of the ninth, birthday boy Denton once again came in clutch for the Crimson Tide, hitting a one-out solo home run to give Alabama the 4-3 walk-off win.
On the day, Denton was 3-for-4 with one run and two RBIs.
"[Denton's] a guy that we've always believed in," Bohannon said. "We really liked him in the recruiting process and played him last year a little more maybe than he was ready for.
"He's a really good player and just really happy for him."
Sophomore starting left-handed pitcher Antoine Jean threw a solid first three innings for Alabama, allowing no runs and only one hit. Jean also struck out four batters as well as had four walks.
Chase Lee (1-0) was credited with the win after coming out of the bullpen in the ninth. Lee faced four batters, allowed one hit and no runs.
Kevin Roliard (0-1) was saddled with the loss for McNeese State.
Alabama moved to 2-0 on the season with the win while McNeese State dropped to 0-2.
The Crimson Tide and the Cowboys will conclude the three-game series on Sunday (1 p.m. CT, SEC Network+).