Entering its weekend series against LSU, Alabama had lost seven straight SEC games.
The Crimson Tide broke that streak with a convincing 6-1 home win over the No. 14 Tigers on Friday night. With the victory, its fourth win over a ranked opponent this season, Alabama improves to 26-17 overall and 5-14 in conference play.
“It’s real big,” coach Brad Bohannon said of the win. “I talked to the team today. It’s kind of a new season for us. We’ve got 14 games in 22 days and we’re not trying to just grind it out until the end. We need to get better.”
Fans were treated to a fireworks show immediately following the win, but the explosions started long before that for Alabama.
T.J. Reeves launched a solo shot over the left field wall to get things started in the bottom of the first inning. Only one batter later, Tyler Gentry did him one better, smacking a home run out of left field that clanked off the top of the stadium’s scoreboard. It was Gentry’s ninth home run of the season, which is good for most on the team and second in the SEC.
“I was really excited to see us throw the first punch tonight,” Bohannon said. “There’s been more instances than I’d like that we’ve been behind early. T.J. and Tyler came out and hit those home runs and we kept our foot on the pedal.”
Reeves and Gentry were the catalysts, but Brett Auerbach was the driving force that sustained the offense. He went a perfect 4-for-4 from the plate, hit two RBIs, two doubles and scored a run.
“I have a lot of faith in Brett,” Bohannon said. “I think he’s a much better player than whatever his numbers are. He’s played every inning of every game and hit in the top of the order a lot. I’m not surprised he’s doing well. I would say that I’m surprised that he started the way that he has. I always feel like Brett’s going to get a hit when he gets up to bat and he’s a good player.”
Reeves, Gentry, Joe Breaux and John Trousdale all had an RBI in the win.
Sam Finnerty earned his sixth win of the season on the mound, keeping LSU scoreless in six innings pitched. He struck out six batters and only allowed five hits. Finnerty kept LSU’s batters in check with a strong pitching performance, but he also relied on some big plays from his defense. Like in the third inning, when LSU hit a ball deep to centerfield that Breaux reached out to snag before running into the wall. The Tigers had two men on base, so if the ball had landed it could’ve changed the entire outlook of the game.
“There was a big sequence there when Joe Breaux had a beautiful catch,” Bohannon said. They had two guys on, it would have been a double, at least 3-2, then we come in and make it 4-0.”
Chase Lee and Brock Guffey pitched in relief. Lee struck out two batters and allowed a hit while Guffey struck out three and allowed a run in the ninth.
Alabama will look to take game two of the series against LSU at 2 p.m. at Joe Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Saturday.