Baseball earns another exciting victory over Xavier Saturday afternoon

Abby McCreary, Assistant Copy Editor

Saturday was another close call for Alabama baseball in Sewell-Thomas Stadium. 

After an exciting walk-off win on Opening Day, the Crimson Tide sealed another nail-biting victory over the Xavier Musketeers for game two of their three-game series. 

“We’ll take it,” head coach Brad Bohannon said. 

Despite a promising start by Alabama pitcher Antoine Jean, his initial strikeout was followed by a solo home run from Xavier shortstop Jack Housinger. Housinger’s homer was the only run of the first inning, despite both teams filling the bases and forcing mound visits from their opponents. 

In the second inning, Alabama took the lead with a string of hits totaling up to four runs, sparking an early Xavier pitching change. Key hits came from first baseman Drew Williamson, catcher Dominic Tamez, third baseman Zane Denton and right fielder William Hamiter, who all recorded RBI’s. 

With the Crimson Tide leading the Musketeers 4-1, the next four innings remained scoreless and were marked only by pitching changes. In the sixth inning, Xavier attempted to rally behind third baseman Jared Cushing’s stealing second — his second stolen base of the series — but Alabama pitcher Dylan Ray struck out first baseman Luke Franzoni, forcing Xavier to leave two runners on base. 

Xavier managed to put another run on the board in the seventh inning due to a solo home run from right fielder Tyler DeMartino but couldn’t add more, leaving designated hitter Teddy Deters on first base and the score at 4-2, Alabama. 

The Crimson Tide attempted to answer back with a run of their own in the bottom of the seventh but a failed stolen base attempt from right fielder Andrew Pinckney — running for left fielder Owen Diodati — and two runners left on base resulted in yet another scoreless inning. 

In the eighth inning, the Alabama defense fell apart. Xavier catcher Jerome Huntzinger stole two bases on Alabama catcher Tamez, one of which resulted in an overthrow allowing Huntzinger to go home as well, bringing the score to 4-3. 

The eighth inning also saw several wild pitches from Alabama pitcher Landon Green, but he managed to end the inning before the Xavier base runner on third base could score another run. 

The second half of the inning went a lot better for Alabama. Williamson started the Tide off with a solo home run, extending their lead to 5-3. Tamez attempted to continue the rally but shortstop Jack Housinger robbed him of a base hit with a diving catch. 

Third baseman Jared Cushing also had a phenomenal grab, but William Hamiter beat the throw to first for a single. Despite the momentum, Alabama was unable to add to their score. 

Heading into the ninth, Alabama only had to secure three more outs before securing the game as well. 

Unfortunately, the Tide’s defense once again fell apart. Wild pitches, a walk and an error from shortstop Bryce Eblin resulted in another run for Xavier, bringing the score to 5-4. One out away from victory, Alabama pitcher Brock Guffey took the mound with two Xavier runners on base. 

The first pitch hit Housinger but the ball went under review as a possible strike. The call stood as a hit-by-pitch, however, and Guffey had three base runners, two outs and one batter standing in his way to victory. 

Xavier’s Franzoni stepped up to the plate. A hit from him would tie the game, if not more, so the stadium held its breath when he hit a rocket at second baseman Jim Jarvis who fumbled the ball. Despite the fumble, Jarvis managed to get the ball to first just in time to beat Franzoni, leading to a Crimson Tide win. 

Alabama pitcher Hunter Furtado is credited with the win, Xavier pitcher Bryce Barnett gets the loss, and Guffey gets the save. 

Bohannon said he acknowledged the team’s need for better defense but chose to focus mostly on offense. 

“I feel good about our offense,” Bohannon said. “I thought we took a step forward today and we need to take another one tomorrow.”

The Crimson Tide will attempt to sweep the Musketeers in the final game of the series Sunday, Feb. 20, at 1 p.m. The game will air on SEC Network+.