Alabama baseball entered the ninth inning of its Tuesday game against UAB with a 4-1 lead. It escaped the inning with a 4-3 win to move its winning streak to seven games.
The Blazers (9-4) loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the ninth, forcing Alabama (11-2) to use closer Jeremy Randolph to relieve Casey Cobb, who pitched the eighth inning.
“We joke with Jeremy,” coach Brad Bohannon said. “We call him ‘Old Man Randolph.'”
Randolph, a 23-year-old graduate transfer, started with a strikeout, then threw a wild pitch that scored a run. UAB got its third run on a sac fly. Pinch hitter Christian Waltman struck out looking with the tying run on third to end the game.
“If you describe an ideal closer, it’s going to be somebody who can throw strikes,” Bohannon said. “I think commanding secondary pitches is valuable for any pitcher but especially at the back end of the game. That experience, those intangibles of not letting a game speed up on you is really important. We kind of knew the day that Jeremy said yes that he would be pitching either the eighth or the ninth. It ended up being the ninth.”
Randolph now has 15 strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings pitched along with two saves. The Wright State transfer was one of the final pieces to join the program during the offseason after choosing to leave for his final season.
Pitching coach Jason Jackson flew to visit Randolph in the Cape Cod League to start recruiting him.
“We talked and got breakfast,” Randolph said. “It was a really good relationship from the start. Then I flew down here for a visit, late July or early August. It was pretty late in the summer.”
Alabama began to build its lead in the bottom of the third when catcher Brett Auerbach and right fielder Tyler Gentry each brought one run across. The Crimson Tide left the bases loaded in that inning, though.
Gentry hit a solo home run in the fifth to make it 3-0. Second baseman Morgan McCullough hit a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning to score center fielder Joe Breaux, who led off with a triple. Alabama had 10 hits and five walks but was just 2-12 with runners in scoring position.
“We should have scored more than four runs tonight with the number of base runners we had,” Bohannon said. “Sometimes, you only have one chance to put up that big inning and we have to do a better job when we get teams and opposing pitchers in those situations of whacking one in the gap.”
Alabama is also 7-0 against in-state teams to start the season.
Reach Ben Jones at email@example.com or 205-722-0196.