Baseball clinches SEC Tournament berth in victory over No. 7 Arkansas

Austin Hannon | @austin_hannon1, Sports Editor

For an Alabama baseball program on the rise, it is a yearly goal for the Crimson Tide to make the SEC Tournament.

At long last this season, that box can now be checked.

Alabama (28-15, 11-17) lived up to its full potential Friday night, beating the seventh-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks (38-15, 18-11) 8-6 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

“Really good win for us tonight,” Alabama head coach Brad Bohannon said. “I really can’t say enough good things about Arkansas. I’m really impressed with their team. They’re physical, they’ve got a nice balance offensively. It’s great to get a win over a legitimate top-5 team like that.”

The Crimson Tide has now made the SEC Tournament for the second straight season. This is remarkable considering where the team was a few seasons ago. Alabama won just 19 conference games from 2017-2019, finishing last in the SEC all three of those seasons.

“It [the win] clinches Hoover, and I know that’s not the ultimate goal for our team,” Bohannon said. “But it’s quite an accomplishment. I’m not sure the top third of the league this year is as strong as it has been, but I think the bottom half of the league is the strongest that it’s ever been. It’s been a very difficult, frustrating type of season for us. We have 12 losses by one run. The biggest reason I’m excited to get to Hoover is because I just don’t want it to end with this group. It’s the most enjoyable group I’ve ever been a part of. I really would like to extend the season for a while.”

With Friday’s win, the Crimson Tide will get a taste of the postseason, even if it is just in Hoover. Alabama will need to make a lot of noise from May 24-29 to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The Crimson Tide honored six seniors before the first pitch of Game 2. Jacob McNairy, Drew Williamson, Eric Foggo, Hunter Ruth, Brock Guffey and Landon Green were all recognized on the field for their dedication over the past four years.

“We can see it moving in the right direction,” Williamson said. “That’s all a testament to working hard and good coaching. If you keep progressing, you can get to where you want to be.”

After trailing 4-1, Alabama put together a six-run fifth inning to take control of the game. Williamson, William Hamiter, Dominic Tamez and Owen Diodati all recorded two hits. Andrew Pinckney continued his red-hot streak at the plate, hitting a home run and picking up two RBIs.

Both teams were humming at the dish, with the game seeing a total of 22 hits.

After Thursday’s loss, Bohannon said that in order to beat the Razorbacks, his team was going to need to come up with big hits in big positions. The Crimson Tide hit .400 with runners on, and .313 with them in scoring position.

“We haven’t done enough of that this season, but we did it tonight,” Bohannon said.

Alabama and Arkansas will play one more game, this time with a series win on the line. First pitch between the Crimson Tide and Razorbacks is Sunday at 1 p.m. CT on SEC Network+. LHP Grayson Hitt will take the mound for Alabama (5.02 ERA).