Alabama baseball’s season-opening series was two victories sandwiched around a stumble. The Crimson Tide split Saturday’s doubleheader against Presbyterian, winning the second game 9-4 after dropping the early game 4-1. The win on Saturday evening clinched the series after UA opened the season with a 7-2 win on Friday night.
“First game, really give Presbyterian a lot of credit,” coach Brad Bohannon said. “Thought on the mound we were up and flat and they did a good job of putting some swings on pitches. I think we squared a couple balls up and hit it right at them a couple of times. With that said, I was really pleased with how our guys responded in game two.”
The Crimson Tide snapped back in the second game with a couple strong offensive innings after struggling to find momentum in the afternoon game. Left fielder Keith Holcombe hit a two-run homer in the first as Alabama scored three runs. Two more runs came across in the second inning.
“The good thing about that was, they jumped out and we answered,” Holcombe said. “That’s one thing we can definitely learn from and keep building up on that, because in baseball there are going to be a lot of ups and downs. If you can learn from that and keep moving, keep answering, that’ll help us out in the long run.”
Presbyterian scored one run in the top of the first and responded to tie the game 3-3 with two runs in the top of the second, but simmered from there. Alabama scored again in the sixth, seventh and eighth to seal the series.
Shortstop Kolby Robinson drove in two more insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. He finished the day 4-7 with two RBIs and a walk across two games and hit .667 for the series.
“It felt good,” Robinson said. “We’ve been playing each other a lot this fall, so going out and being able to compete against an actual different team felt good.”
Freshman T.J. Reeves pinch hit in the eighth and hit a sac fly in his first collegiate at bat. Freshman infielder Daniel Carinci collected a hit on his first collegiate at bat later that inning.
Alabama’s offense never got rolling in the first game of the day. Sophomore Sam Praytor hit a solo home run in the bottom of the second to give UA a 1-0 lead, but that was the only score of the day. Presbyterian chipped away, scoring one run in four different innings to seize a 4-1 win.
Small mistakes damaged Alabama’s chances of recovering after falling behind. Presbyterian took the lead in the fifth on a run scored by a wild pitch. The runner had moved from first to third on an error. Alabama had two runners aboard in the sixth while trailing 3-1, but Holcombe was picked off of first. Presbyterian scored its fourth and final run on a passed ball in the top of the eighth.
The Crimson Tide started a pair of true freshman pitchers on Saturday. It was the first time since 2012 that two freshmen have started on opening weekend for Alabama. Tyler Ras threw 3 2/3 innings and allowed one run on five hits and two walks, striking out five on 65 pitches. Ras came back and played DH in the second game, going 1 for 2 with an RBI and a walk.
Connor Shamblin started the second game, throwing four innings on 60 pitches. He allowed three runs, two of which were earned, on five hits and one walk. He struck out five.
“Tyler and Connor both have really good arms,” Bohannon said. “They’re freshmen getting their first start at Alabama. They were both a little amped up. They have really bright futures and both did some really good things today. They’ll get better every time out. I thought that was a very good starting point for both Tyler and Connor.”
Reach Ben Jones at email@example.com or 205-722-0196.