Alabama coach Brad Bohannon had a feeling on his way to work that his team’s rematch with Samford wouldn’t look anything like the 21-2 win in Birmingham in April.
“Maybe this is the coach in me,” he said. “I knew coming to the park that we were going to have a hard time scoring because it was too easy last time, and that’s just how baseball works.”
He was right, but the Crimson Tide (30-23) found a way to beat the Bulldogs (37-16) 4-2 after falling behind 2-0 early. Alabama took the lead in the bottom of the eight on a two-run homer by senior center fielder Joe Breaux in his final home game.
Breaux finished the day 2-3 with a walk and two RBIs. He also had a diving catch to finish the top of the seventh inning.
“It’s a cool feeling,” Breaux said. “My last game here, I wanted it to be special. I wouldn’t want to strike out. It was awesome. It was a good feeling.”
Samford’s two runs both came on solo homers in the top of the third. Center fielder Max Pinto homered to left center, and first baseman Sonny DiChiara homered off the batter’s eye in center two batters later.
Alabama’s pitching was strong otherwise. The bullpen threw the final six innings in relief of Garret Rukes, allowing two hits and no walks. The defense played a clean game.
“The pitching was outstanding,” Bohannon said. “I thought Garret got us off to a good start and the bullpen was outstanding, six shutout innings.”
Alabama’s offense got some help from mistakes by Samford. The Crimson Tide’s first run scored in the bottom of the seventh scored when Kolby Robinson reached on an error by the second baseman. He went to second on a wild pitch, then scored on a passed ball without Alabama putting another ball in play.
The second run, which tied the game, came aboard in the eighth when Tyler Gentry reached second as the Samford infield failed to catch a routine pop fly on the pitcher’s mound. Robinson and Gentry were ready when those errors happened.
“Really proud of the hustle plays, Kolby scoring from second on the wild pitch and Tyler on the popup in the infield was sprinting right out of the box,” Bohannon said. “It’s very rare in our game that you get rewarded for doing things the right way. It was really nice to see those two guys on our team get rewarded for playing so hard.”
Alabama finished the season 13-1 in midweek games. This is the first time Alabama baseball has reached 30 wins in a season since 2016, when the team finished the season 32-26. Alabama previously beat Samford 21-2 in Birmingham on April 9.
“It’s just a number, but it’s a number that’s higher than last year,” Bohannon said. “We’re rebuilding a program. Two years ago, Alabama baseball was 19-34-1. Last year’s group won 27. Now we’re at 30 and we’re not done playing. The goal for next year will be to win more games than this year. I don’t want to make a bigger deal out of it than it is, but it was a big deal to me.”
Reach Ben Jones at email@example.com or 205-722-0196.