Alabama had been in enough one-run games lately. Most of them hadn’t gone the Crimson Tide’s way.
Cobie Vance’s RBI single in the bottom of the seventh turned a 3-2 lead into a 4-2 win against Kentucky. That single gave Alabama some much-needed breathing room. The win gave Alabama (17-10, 2-5 SEC) an end to its seven-game losing streak. The win was Alabama’s first over a top-10 team this season and happened in front of a season-high crowd of 4,421 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
“I think for us as a group, we just had a lot of really good at-bats at the right time tonight,” coach Brad Bohannon said. “You guys know the last several games, we’ve lost a lot of close games and it seems like we haven’t gotten the big hit at the right time. Tonight we did.”
Alabama’s last seven games had been decided by 12 runs, including three one-run losses. None of those games was decided by more than three runs.
Starter Sam Finnerty gave Alabama 5 2/3 solid innings against one of the nation’s best offenses. He allowed two runs, only one of which was earned, while allowing eight hits and three walks. He gave up a homer in the sixth inning shortly before leaving the game.
Kentucky entered the night averaging almost nine runs per game on the season. Freshman Brock Guffey threw 1 1/3 innings of relief after Finnerty, and sophomore Deacon Medders earned the save by pitching the final two innings.
“They’re a really good hitting team,” Finnerty said. “They don’t chase much and they put really good swings on really good pitches. The home run he hit, I thought it was a pretty good pitch and he just put a really good swing on it. That happens in baseball. They have a good club, for sure.”
Alabama had another potential insurance run wiped away in the bottom of the eighth. Center fielder
Joe Breaux doubled, then tried to score on a double from Hunter Alexander. But he was thrown out at the plate by Kentucky center fielder Ben Alinski.
All four of Alabama’s runs came off Kentucky starter Sean Hjelle, a 6-foot-11 junior righty who was the SEC pitcher of the year last season.
“I think we brought it to them today,” Vance said. “The past couple of games we were kind of feeling it out, letting it come to us instead of going and getting it. I think today we just came out and brought it to them.”
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.