Baseball crashes out of SEC tournament at the hands of the Commodores


Alabama baseball player Jim Jarvis (#10) hits the ball against Vanderbilt on May 26 at Hoover Met in Birmingham, Ala. (Courtesy of UA Athletics)

Michael DeVito, Contributing Writer

In the fourth round of the SEC tournament, the No. 9 Alabama Crimson Tide rematched the No. 4 Vanderbilt Commodores in a win-or-go-home game in the losers’ bracket. Previously, the Crimson Tide bested the Commodores in a historic series win back in May, but in this game, Alabama went home.  

With a trip to the tournament semifinals on the line, veteran Alabama right-hander Jacob McNairy (6-1 3.39 ERA) was given the ball, and the Commodores ran out left-hander Devin Futrell (6-3 3.54 ERA) — the same pitching matchup from game three of the May series.  

Commodore Enrique Bradfield Jr. got things going for Vanderbilt with a leadoff walk, which Davis Diaz followed with a hot single off the glove of third baseman Colby Shelton. R.J. Schreck brought home Bradfield with a first-pitch swing, hooking the ball down right field and putting Vanderbilt on the board first. Parker Noland brought home Diaz with a groundout to second. With loud contact, Chris Maldonado ripped one past Shelton at third, putting the Crimson Tide in an early three-run hole. A long fly ball to right field off the bat of R.J. Austin blew the inning open. His two-run shot for the Commodores opened the game up, putting Vanderbilt up 5-0.  

“I think he’s [McNairy] starting to settle in, and his sinking stuff is starting to get better,” interim head coach Jason Jackson said in a mid-inning interview. 

To make matters worse for an injury-riddled Crimson Tide squad, star shortstop Jim Jarvis exited the game in the bottom of the first after he was hit in the head during his at-bat. After following SEC concussion protocol rules, though, he was allowed to reenter later in the game. 

In the rest of the first inning, first baseman Drew Williamson reached on a single, followed by catcher Dominic Tamez reaching on a walk, meaning Alabama had the bases loaded. Designated hitter Will Hodo lined out to center field, though, wasting an opportunity for the Crimson Tide to tally a run.  

Shelton eventually got the Crimson Tide on the board with his 22nd home run of the season, a two-run shot over the right center field wall. Piece by piece, the Tide started to strike back in the third, making it a 5-2 ballgame.  

In the away half of the fifth, Matthew Polk opened the game for the Commodores with a two-run RBI single to left center field. Another single followed, and Polk came around to score on an error by Andrew Pinckney in center field, making it 8-2.  

In the top of the sixth inning, Alabama right-hander Braylon Myers entered from the bullpen and worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam. However, the Alabama offense was shut down by the Vanderbilt arms in the bottom half. Still trailing by 6 with just nine outs to play, the Crimson Tide was running out of time.  

To ice the game for the Commodores, Maldonado blasted a solo home run just over a reaching Pinckney, putting Vanderbilt up by 7 in the ninth and a dagger in the Crimson Tide’s heart. Alabama went down without a fight in the bottom of the ninth, ending its SEC tournament just short of the semifinals with a 9-2 defeat to the Vanderbilt Commodores.  

“The main thing was that the big innings got us tonight. We had some good at-bats. We hit some balls hard, hit some balls hard right at guys, and we just couldn’t ever get much going offensively. You’ve got to give Vanderbilt credit,” Jackson said. 

The Crimson Tide will return to Tuscaloosa and await the NCAA tournament regional seeding show. Alabama is projected to host a regional at Sewell-Thomas Stadium for the first time since 2006 and make its first tournament appearance since 2021.