Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Rob Vaughn era begins with home sweep over Manhattan College in baseball’s opening weekend

CW / Braxton Bevis
Alabama pitcher Riley Quick (#4) handled the start of the game against Manhattan on Feb. 17, 2024.

The long-awaited 2024 season began Friday afternoon in Sewell-Thomas Stadium, as the Alabama Crimson Tide baseball team opened its campaign hosting the Manhattan College Jaspers in a three-game series win.  

Game 1: 4-0 

Junior right-hander Ben Hess toed the slab for the Crimson Tide on opening day and made quick work of the top of the first, working a one-two-three inning including two strikeouts.  

“I had a lot of people around me to help support me,” Hess said about battling back from his injury to start Friday. “The offseason was just about getting healthy first and foremost.”  

In the bottom half, third baseman Gage Miller got the Crimson Tide going, leading off the inning by getting hit by the pitch. Center fielder TJ McCants hit a single, sending Miller to third. Miller and McCants both scored off an error when Jaspers shortstop Josiah Brown threw the ball away, putting the Crimson Tide up 2-0. 

With one out in the bottom of the third, McCants, Ian Petrutz and outfielder Evan Sleight all stole the show with line-drive doubles into right center field, which resulted in two more runs for the Crimson Tide and a 4-0 lead.  

After 4.0 innings of scoreless baseball, Hess exited the game in favor of right-hander Hagan Banks, who made his season debut. Hess’ final line totaled one hit, nine strikeouts, two free passes and zero runs allowed. Banks worked a one-two-three fifth inning to keep the Jaspers off the scoreboard.  

In the bottom half of the seventh, the Crimson Tide threatened, with Bryce Eblin leading off second with a fielder’s choice and Miller leading off from first who reached on a hit-by-pitch with McCants up at the plate. Digging down in a big spot, Jaspers pitcher Greg Shaw struck out McCants swinging, keeping the game at 4-0.  

McCants “was kind of a spark plug all around for us not just with the bat in his hands but also stealing bases, creating some stuff and getting into scoring position,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. 

After entering the game to replace Banks in the sixth inning with two outs, right-hander Braylon Myers rode the game out for the Crimson Tide, securing Alabama’s first victory of the 2024 season by a final score of 4-0. 

Game 2: 15-0 

Riding high off momentum in the opening-day victory, right-hander Riley Quick got the nod for the Crimson Tide in Game 2 of the series. Quick settled in fast, hammering the zone with strikes to strike out two and getting a groundout, with his fastball reaching up to 97.8 mph.  

After staying hot with a double to right field, McCants reached third on a Petrutz groundout. Thinking on his feet, McCants scored on a pitch in the dirt, giving Alabama a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first.  

The Crimson Tide kept the bats going and capitalized off errors to eventually total nine runs after two four-run innings.  

Manhattan eventually stopped the bleeding, keeping the game at 9-0 with a Petrutz fly out to left field with Jaspers left fielder Frankie Marinelli making a catch on the run.  

After Alabama’s second four-run inning, Quick’s day was over. He worked 3.0 innings allowing no hits, striking out five and walking one. Greg Farone replaced Quick in the top of the fourth, making his season debut.  

Getting the bottom of the fourth going with a leadoff walk, Will Hodo was eventually hit in by Mac Guscette, his third RBI of the afternoon, bringing the score to 10-0. Guscette would bring home Hodo with a liner into right center field, making it 10-0 Alabama. It was Guscette’s third RBI on the afternoon.  

After drawing a fourth ball, Mason Swinney walked, scoring a run and keeping the bases loaded and the machine running for Guscette. With another RBI opportunity, Guscette was plunked, bringing home William Hamiter and making it 13-0. A past ball and a sacrifice fly contributed to the Crimson Tide’s final two runs of the afternoon.  

Alabama defeated the Jaspers 15-0, run-ruling them in seven innings and securing the series win to open the 2024 season and the Vaughn era.   

“As a team we’ve worked very hard on putting up quality at-bats,” infielder Justin Lebron said. “For me personally, the more pitches that I see, the more pitchers and different kind of pitchers and kind of at-bats will definitely help me being great and have a good eye.”  

Game 3: 11-8 

Right-hander Aidan Moza got the start on the mound for the Crimson Tide in Game 3, securing the third one-two-three first inning of the series. All three one-two-three beginnings had two strikeouts as well. 

The Alabama offense got on the board fast, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first off a ground ball from the bat of Hodo. In all three games of the series, Alabama got on the board in the first inning against Manhattan.  

The Crimson Tide tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the second. After loading the bases, Alabama made it 4-0 when Lebron scored on a past ball and Miller on Hodo’s infield single.   

Manhattan got its first three runs of the weekend in the top of the third inning by barreling up Moza and hitting gaps to cut the Alabama lead down to just one run in a 4-3 ballgame.  

Despite surrendering three runs in the top half, the rookie Lebron got himself going with his first Crimson Tide home run, a two-run inside-the-park home run off the center field wall. Before the Jaspers outfielders could get the ball in, Lebron was already rounding third to put Alabama ahead by three.  

Swinging a hot bat, McCants also got his first Crimson Tide home run, ripping it into the Right Field Ragers. The second two-run home run of the inning allowed Alabama to pull ahead 8-3.  

Rallying with the bases loaded and zero outs, the Jaspers battled back in the top of the fifth. Knocking Moza out from the game, Manhattan scored three runs by loading the bases twice in the inning. Entering the game in a jam, Tyler Fay was able to get the Crimson Tide out of the jam. Batting nine hitters in the inning, the Jaspers plated three, cutting close to the Crimson Tide at 9-6.  

The Jasper comeback in the sixth and seventh innings was not enough to defeat the Crimson Tide. Alabama added late with home runs from Hodo and Hamiter in the bottom of the sixth and seventh to secure the 11-8 victory and the series sweep over the Manhattan Jaspers.  

The sweep marks the first series win and first week of the Vaughn era of Alabama baseball. The Crimson Tide will return to “The Joe” on Tuesday at 4 p.m. CT during a midweek matchup versus Middle Tennessee.  

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