The programs at Sewell-Thomas Stadium called it Senior Day. But the box score put the spotlight on two of Alabama’s freshmen.
Alabama (29-22, 7-19) beat No. 17 Texas A&M 2-1 thanks to solo home runs from freshmen T.J. Reeves and Tyler Ras. Junior right-hander Brock Love threw a career-best seven innings, keeping a shutout until giving up one run in the seventh.
“I like two- and three-run homers, but we’ll take the solo homers when we can get them,” coach Brad Bohannon said.
Junior reliever Casey Cobb got five outs from the bullpen. Senior closer Jeremy Randolph came on for the final out to earn the save as catcher Brett Auerbach threw out the tying run at second.
Reeves hit his solo shot in the first inning to give Alabama a 1-0 lead. Ras followed it up with another solo homer to lead off the fourth. Those were the only two hits Texas A&M starter Asa Lacy gave up, but it was enough for the win.
“I’m not surprised that we’re playing better in May than we did in March,” Bohannon said. “I wish it had happened in April. That was the whole goal, ‘Hey by the time we get to week three or week four, can we get these freshmen playing like sophomores and these juniors playing like seniors?'”
Lacy was ejected after 4 2/3 innings, appearing to argue balls and strikes with home plate umpire Ryan Broussard.
Love kept Alabama in control by giving up six hits and one walk in seven innings, striking out three. His 107 pitches were also a career-high. Texas A&M hit a leadoff triple in the seventh that scored on a ground ball.
“I didn’t feel like my stuff was great tonight,” he said. “I just found a way to get some outs when I needed to.”
Alabama honored its four seniors in a ceremony before the game. Randolph, center fielder Joe Breaux, outfielder Keith Holcombe and starting pitcher Sam Finnerty each have two more home games in their career.
“Those four seniors we recognized today, they’re the right people,” Bohannon said. “I’m really glad to be able to reward them with a win today.”
The win keeps Alabama in the thick of the race for the 12th and final spot in the SEC tournament. South Carolina (26-24, 7-19 SEC) beat Kentucky (24-26, 6-20 SEC) earlier in the day to clinch its series. The Gamecocks are now tied with Alabama for 12th in the SEC with seven conference wins each, but Alabama holds a tiebreaker by virtue of its series win over the Gamecocks in Tuscaloosa earlier this year.
Alabama’s series concludes on Sunday at 2 p.m. Finnerty, Alabama’s usual Friday starter, is expected to pitch.
Reach Ben Jones at email@example.com or 205-722-0196.