Crimson Tide baseball rolls into super regionals to keep historic season alive


CW / Jennifer Stroud

Alabama baseball player Alton Davis II (#42) throws a pitch against Nicholls State on June 3 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Michael DeVito, Contributing Writer

After 16 long years, postseason baseball at Sewell-Thomas Stadium has returned for the Alabama Crimson Tide. With three wins over the weekend, Alabama’s pursuit of a World Series berth in Omaha for the first time in 26 years continues.  

Opening round, June 2 — Nicholls Colonels vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (Alabama wins 4-3) 

Right-hander Luke Holman, a staple in the Alabama rotation all season, toed the slab for the Crimson Tide in front of an electric Sewell-Thomas crowd. Nicholls, in its first NCAA tournament game since 1998, countered Holman with freshman phenom Jacob Mayers (9-1, 1.93 ERA). 

“I believe in the men in our locker room,” Nicholls head coach Mike Silva said in a midgame interview. 

In the away half of the second, MaCrae Kendrick hooked one down the right field line, giving the Colonels a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the second and stunning the Alabama home faithful. It took a double and a walk before Holman bounced back with a big strikeout to avoid a multi-run inning.  

The Crimson Tide was left hitless entering the bottom of the fifth, but third baseman Colby Shelton got Alabama going with a leadoff triple to set up second baseman Ed Johnson. Johnson got under one and lofted a sacrifice fly to deep left center field, bringing home Shelton from third. In a back-and-forth contest so far, the Crimson Tide tied it at 1-1. 

Answering in the top of the sixth with a triple of its own from Colonel Edgar Alvarez, Nicholls pulled ahead with a sacrifice fly from cleanup man Gerardo Villarreal. In the second half of the inning, Tuscaloosa native Drew Williamson hit a ground rule double to right field to score Caden Rose, who reached with a double and advanced to third with a sacrifice bunt. 

Tied at 2, right fielder Andrew Pinckney and Shelton both reached on back-to-back walks, loading the bases for Johnson with two outs. Getting ahead 2-0 in the count, then falling to 2-2, Johnson hit a feeble ground ball right back to the mound to end the Crimson Tide rally.  

Wes Toups put Nicholls back in front with the long ball to lead off the seventh. New arm for the Crimson Tide Kade Woods bounced back with a trio of punch-outs, but the damage was done, and the Colonels led 3-2. In the bottom half of the inning, Alabama catcher Mac Guscette launched his eighth home run of the season, pulling one close to the left field foul pole, making it a brand-new ball game at 3 all.  

Drawing a four-pitch walk to lead off the bottom of the ninth, William Hamiter stood as the winning run. Guscette laid a sacrifice bunt to move Hamiter into scoring position at second base. Shortstop Jim Jarvis ripped one through the left side of the infield, scoring Hamiter from second. 

“I was really proud of the way our guys competed. They had a mature approach to the game tonight,” interim head coach Jason Jackson said. 

Alabama’s first walk-off win of the season couldn’t have come in a more important game. Alabama moved into the winners’ bracket to face Troy with a spot in the regional championship on the line.  

1-0 game, June 3 — Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Troy Trojans (Alabama wins 11-8) 

Tuscaloosa native and lifelong Alabama fan Garrett McMillan (4-2, 3.99 ERA) got the ball for Alabama in front of a packed Sewell-Thomas stadium. Logan Ross (4-1, 4.42 ERA) countered McMillan for Troy, in the Crimson Tide and Trojans’ third meeting of the season. 

Alabama struck first on the bat of Rose, his seventh home run of the year. A two-run shot to right field quickly put the Crimson Tide ahead 2-0.  

Troy figured out McMillan in the bottom of the third, loading the bases with no-outs. Trojan leadoff man Kole Myers grounded into a double play but scored Kyle Mock from third. Ethan Kavanagh followed Myers with an RBI single up the middle, scoring Shane Lewis. To put a Trojan five-spot in the inning, William Sullivan launched his 17th home run of the year off the light pole in left field, putting the Trojans ahead 5-2.  

In the top half of the fourth, Guscette got Alabama going with a single, and Caden Rose followed with a double. Jim Jarvis singled back up the middle to center field to bring home Guscette, putting runners at the corners with nobody out. Tommy Seidl roped one into left field, scoring Rose. Heads-up baserunning from Jarvis allowed him to score on the Troy throwing error into the infield and Seidl to move to second. All tied up at 5, and with Seidl and Pinckney on second and first, Alabama took a 6-5 lead when Dominic Tamez singled to right center field.  

Myers sent one deep into the Tuscaloosa night for his second RBI of the night, tying the game at 6 and knocking McMillan out of the game after just 68 pitches, 51 of which were strikes.  

Leading off the away half of the sixth, Pinckney sent a 425-foot bomb over the scoreboard to put Alabama in front 7-6. In the bottom half, Troy threatened early, loading the bases with no outs. Lewis capitalized on the loaded bases, blooping one into right. After a close play at home was reviewed, Tremayne Cobb Jr. scored, tying the game at 7. A sacrifice fly off the bat of Myers scored Donovan Whibbs to put the Trojans ahead 8-7.  

Alabama took the lead in the top of the ninth on a Seidl ground ball to Trojan shortstop Cobb, who threw the ball away, scoring Will Hodo and Jarvis and putting Alabama in front 9-8. Hamiter, who entered as a pinch runner for Seidl, scored from first, off a deep fly ball from Pinckney that was dropped by the Trojan right fielder Kavanagh to put the Crimson Tide up 2. On another error by the shortstop Cobb, Alabama took a 3-run lead after a ground ball from Tamez went under the glove of Cobb, making it 11-8. 

Closer Alton Davis II slammed the door shut on the Trojans, sending the Crimson Tide to the regional final. 

“This was a heck of a ballgame. It was two really talented teams, two talented offenses, and the crowd and atmosphere was great,” Jackson said. “It was a back-and-forth game, and I’m super proud of our guys. They fought all night and kept believing down to the last out in the ninth.”  

Regional final, June 4 — Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Boston College Eagles (Alabama wins 8-0) 

On the cusp of its first super regional appearance in 13 years, the last hurdle for the Crimson Tide was the Boston College Eagles. The boys from Chestnut Hill entered the regional final needing to beat the Crimson Tide twice to advance to the supers.; Alabama just needed one victory. 

Athens, Alabama, native Jacob McNairy (6-2, 4.08 ERA) got the nod for the Crimson Tide, while the Eagles trusted their right-handed closer Andrew Roman (3-0, 4.08 ERA) with his first start of the season. 

With two outs in the top of the first, Roman offered four straight free passes on 10 consecutive balls, walking Pinckney, hitting Williamson, walking Tamez and hitting Shelton to bring in the first run of the night. A fifth straight free pass for Johnson picked up another RBI as Roman couldn’t find the strike zone, putting the Crimson Tide ahead by 2. Guscette poured on two more runs with an RBI single off the third baseman’s glove, scoring Shelton and Tamez, making it 4-0 and knocking out Roman after his abysmal first inning. It would take the ninth hitter of the inning, Rose, to end the inning on a groundout to third.

Tamez, hitting over .300 against lefties, continued his hot streak to bring home Alabama’s fifth run on the night in the top of the second. The RBI double into right field scored Seidl from third, and Alabama took a big 5-0 lead early.  

In the top of the third, Johnson got the Crimson Tide going with a leadoff single back up the middle, followed by a walk from Guscette. Seidl brought home Johnson from second base off a single into center field, making it 6-0.   

To seal it in the top of the eighth, Guscette blooped one into center field, dropping it right in front of the Eagles center fielder Barry Walsh. Guscette’s 4th RBI of the night brought home Bryce Eblin and Tamez, making it an eight-run Alabama lead. 

On the hill, McNairy put out the flaming hot Eagle offense. Coming into the regional final, the Eagles scored 28 runs in just three games. Working into the eighth inning, McNairy kept the Eagles off the board by throwing a big zero. A career high 11 strikeouts on 108 pitches complemented his night. McNairy exited to an 8-0 lead and a standing ovation in his final appearance on the mound of Sewell-Thomas in front of the Alabama faithful. 

“He’s [McNairy] one of those guys when he gets in a groove, he’s really tough,” interim head coach Jason Jackson said. “He’s just a great teammate and works his tail off.” 

Boston College head coach Mike Gambino also complimented McNairy’s playing. 

“McNairy’s throwing the ball great. He has got to get a lot of credit for what he’s doing out there, Gambino said. 

Hunter Hoopes entered in the bottom of the ninth to silence the Eagles. A line of handshakes on the mound of Sewell-Thomas commenced as the Crimson Tide defeated the Eagles 8-0, sweeping the Tuscaloosa regional and advanced to the super regionals.  

“What an awesome night for our baseball program, for our fan base and for the players. I couldn’t be prouder of everybody that’s been involved and has worked hard to get to this point,” Jackson said. “We’re not done yet, but I’m just so excited that we got to do this on our own field in front of our fans and move on to the next round.”  

The Alabama Crimson Tide emerged victorious from the Tuscaloosa regional and will advance to its first super regional in 13 years. Alabama will travel to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to face the No. 1-seeded Wake Forest Demon Deacons.  

The series will be a best-of-three format, beginning June 9 at David F. Couch Ballpark, home of the Deacons. The Crimson Tide sits just two wins away from reaching the College World Series, but in its way is the highest-ranked team in the country.