Alabama baseball drops double-header to No. 1 Texas A&M

Alabama baseball player TJ McCants (44) runs the bases against Texas A&M at Sewell-Thomas Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL on Friday, April 19, 2024.

By WVUA 23 sports reporter Juliet Brown

Rain postponed Thursday night’s game against the top-ranked Texas A&M Aggies until a doubleheader on Friday. Everything seemed to be going Alabama’s way until it didn’t. The Crimson Tide dropped both games on Friday and hopes to bounce back on Saturday.

“We just have to play cleaner baseball on defense,” Alabama coach Rob Vaughn said. “That came up to bite us a few times today. (We gotta play clean baseball on defense, have really tough at bats, and then just attack these guys so you know they’re good, but the only chance you have against the bullies is to attack the bully, and that is what we have to do with those boys tomorrow.

Game one

It was a pitching duel early between Alabama’s Greg Farone and A&M’s Ryan Prager. That was until the Crimson Tide bats capitalized in the third inning.

Gage Miller led off the inning with a solo home run. Justin Lebron hit a one-out single to left field, while Will Hodo walked, putting two runners on base for TJ McCants. He hit a double to left-centerfield, extending the Crimson Tide’s lead to 3-0.

In the fourth inning, Mac Guscette walked to take the lead, which Ian Petrutz took advantage of. Without a doubt, Petrutz hit the “Right Field Rangers” for a 2-run homer. Alabama led 5-0 heading into the fifth inning, where the team ran into trouble, and things went downhill from there.

Gavin Grahovac singled up the middle to start the inning for the Aggies. Jace LaViolette then doubled to right centerfield to put runners on second and third base with no outs. Braden Montgomery hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield, allowing Grahovac to score. Jackson Appel followed with a double to right-centerfield, bringing in a run for the Aggies.

Tyler Fay relieved Farone after he walked, putting runners on first and second base with two outs. Fay walked Hayden Schott, loading the bases for Caden Sorrell. Sorrell hit a grand slam to right field and the Aggies never looked back.

Leading 6-5 in the sixth inning, LaViolette drew a walk that ended Fay’s day. Zane Probst replaced him, but immediately gave up a 2-run homerun to Montgomery. Appel followed with another homerun into the visiting bullpen.

Trailing 9-5 in the bottom of the sixth, Alabama had to find its offense again. Bryce Eblin was given a lead walk, but the Crimson Tide couldn’t capitalize.

Sorrell opened the top of the seventh inning with a solo home run to extend the Aggies lead 10-5. Alabama got out of the inning allowing only that one run; however, the Crimson Tide offense never found its groove again.

Alabama dropped game one 10-5

Game two

After striking out a strikeout to start game two, Alabama pitcher Ben Hess ran into trouble.

Hess walked Appel to start the second inning. Ted Burton singled through the left side, putting runners on first and second base for Schott, who homered over the left field fence. Ali Camarillo singled to left field and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Sorrell hit the ball that deflected off Hess’ lower leg into right field for a single. Camarillo scored during the game.

Hess was assessed by the staff and tried to stay in the game; However, the coaches made the decision to go with freshman Sam Mitchell after Hess grunted and grimaced during warmups. Mitchell inherited a runner on first base with no outs. The sequence that followed was heartbreaking for Alabama fans.

A single and walk loaded the bases shortly after the freshman pitcher took over with no outs. With the bases loaded, LaViolette singled through the right side for two more runs. Montgomery followed with another single to right, allowing Grahovac to score. Appel hit a single identical to LaViolette’s, which scored another run for the Aggies. Texas A&M led 8-0 entering the bottom of the second inning.

The Crimson Tide showed some fight in the bottom half of the inning. An error by the A&M pitcher allowed McCants to reach first base with one out. Kade Snell was hit by a pitch in the next at bat. Evan Sleight followed with a single to right to load the bases. Guscette then hit his first home run of the season, which happened to be a grand slam. Alabama ended the inning shortly thereafter, but the Crimson Tide cut the Aggies lead at the half at 8-4.

Mitchell got the first two outs in the top of the third inning before giving up a walk to Travis Chestnut. Coulson Buchanan replaced him. The Crimson Tide made a much-needed cleanup on defense; However, the violation also resulted in a goose egg.

Alabama ran into more trouble in the fourth when Montgomery earned a walk with one out. The Crimson Tide should have come out of the containment; However, an error by Eblin allowed Burton to reach first base, while Montgomery advanced to third base. Back-to-back singles allowed three more runs to cross for the Aggies. Texas A&M took an 11-4 lead in the fifth inning.

In the fifth inning, Chestnut led off with a single against the shortstop, and Grahovac followed with a home run over the left field fence.

Alabama’s offense found a brief spark. Lebron hit a solo home run to earn a running back for the Crimson Tide. Hodo, McCants and Snell hit back-to-back-to-back singles to load the bases. Guscette again tied the clutch with a single to center field, allowing two runs to cross. Alabama cut the lead 13-7 heading into the sixth inning.

Both teams threw goose eggs in the sixth inning, but the A&M bats got hot again in the top of the seventh. A one-out single and a walk put runners on first and second base for Montgomery. Jansen Kenty replaced Buchanan on the mound, but the Aggies home run leader added to his home run total when he sent one over the center field fence. A&M took a 16-7 lead in the eighth inning.

Petrutz dropped a one-out single to center field in the bottom of the eighth. Lebron followed with his second home run of the game when he hit one over the left-center field fence to cut the lead 16-9.

Aidan Moza took over for Kenty in the ninth. He gave up a two-run homer, which essentially put the nail in the coffin of an already difficult comeback for the Crimson Tide.

Alabama will attempt to play the final game of the series on Saturday at 2:00 PM CT.