T.J. Reeves goes down again as Alabama baseball sweeps Wright State

Brett Hudson
The Tuscaloosa News

The joy of Alabama baseball’s opening weekend sweep did not last long, after eeking out a 5-2 win at Jacksonville State before losing at home to UT Martin 9-4.

The weekend brought back the exuberance.

While Alabama did not completely absolve itself of the miscues that plagued it in the midweek, it did play well enough to earn a weekend sweep of Wright State, winning 8-4 on Friday before taking both in a Saturday doubleheader, 8-7 in 11 innings and 1-0 in seven innings.

T.J. Reeves goes down again 

UA outfielder T.J. Reeves exited the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader in the third inning after a big swing on a strikeout did not agree with the same hamstring that experienced tightness and kept him out of opening weekend. Reeves had quickly returned to form in the two games he played before, hitting his first home run of the season on Friday and ending the weekend with a .333 batting average.

UA coach Brad Bohannon said he will know more about Reeves’ status in the coming days, leading up to Tuesday’s game at UAB and Wednesday’s game against Troy.

“We’re just trying to be smart with him and his hamstring,” Bohannon said. “He took that swing and it locked up on him. We just got to be smart.”

Reeves’ next absence could force UA to lower levels of depth. Freshman Caden Rose has been a consistent fixture at center field, and right fielder Owen Diodati is still a work in progress defensively as he transitions from catching most of his pre-college career; should a freshman slump come or the defensive miscues rear their head (as they did at times over the Wright State weekend), UA could be forced to turn to little-used outfielders Andrew Pinckney and Jackson Tate for more at-bats than anticipated.

Zane Denton stays hot

Denton’s first eight plate appearances of the weekend included a solo home run with an exit velocity of 106 miles per hour, four singles and a walk. He ended the weekend with a .433 batting average on the season as one of just two UA hitters with three homers (the other being leadoff man Peyton Wilson) and the only one slugging better than .700.

Tyler Ras rebounds, pitches well

In the final week of preseason practice, Tyler Ras was forcing UA’s coaching staff to “split hairs” for the second and third spots in its starting rotation. What was supposedly a standout fall and spring for Ras did not translate into his first outing of 2021, when he allowed seven hits and six runs, all earned, in three innings, his lone outing of opening weekend against McNeese.

Ras quickly came back to form

The senior right-hander was called into a Friday-night start in place of Connor Prielipp, who is out with what Bohannon described as a “medical condition.” Ras turned in six innings of one-hit, one-run ball with five strikeouts, a stat line comparable to Prielipp’s best in his short UA career.

“I’m not surprised that Tyler pitched well; I’m surprised he had a rough one last weekend,” Bohannon said. "He’s somebody who’s pitched a lot of really good innings for us in his career and somebody we have a lot of confidence in. We said from day one in the fall that he’s going to be a big part of our success or failure as a team this year.”

Hamiter’s hitting heroics 

Sophomore outfielder William Hamiter opening his 2021 campaign with eight hitless at-bats and one in his first 11 is a distant memory.

Hamiter went 4-for-11 over the weekend series, including the walk-off hit in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader. Hamiter exited the weekend with a team-high eight RBIs and one of just two UA players with multiple doubles.

“He’s just a hitter. He’s got a beautiful swing, he’s got hand-eye and he just always hits,” Bohannon said. “He’s somebody that we’ve quietly always been really high on.”

Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or bhudson@tuscaloosanews.com or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson