Tuscaloosa, Ala. - Austen Smith was the ninth inning hero, driving in the final run of a three-run ninth inning as the Alabama Crimson Tide posted a come-from-behind, walk-off, 7-6, Southeastern Conference victory over the Missouri Tigers on Sunday from Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Alabama clinches the series with the win and moves to 31-22 overall and 13-13 in SEC matchups. The loss drops Missouri to 16-29 overall and 8-19 in conference action.
“What a game! At the end of the day, I thought our guys had a great will about them,” Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “We talked about it prior to the game today. This is why you come to Alabama, this is why you play the game –for big games like today. We know our backs were against the wall today and I thought our guys really showed that in the ninth inning. They just continued to give one good at-bat after another to get [Austen] Smith up there to have the game winner. I’m really proud of our team and the way that they responded in the ninth inning.”
Chance Vincent’s first hit of the game proved big, as it ignited a ninth inning rally for the Tide. After Riley Colburn came in to pinch run, Roberts reached first on an error to put two on with no outs. After fouling off two straight bunt attempts, Salem took a hack at the two-strike delivery and dropped it into the gap in left center to load the bases. Kyle Overstreet came up to the plate and delivered a deep right fly to score Colburn. Then, on an 0-2 count, Ben Moore came up with a game-tying single to left field. From there, Smith hammered the first pitch he saw off Jake Walsh to the wall in left field as Salem scored easily from second base for the game-winning run.
The walk-off RBI-double was the only hit of the day for Smith. Kyle Overstreet accounted for much the Tide’s offense, going 2-for-3 with two singles and three RBI. Ben Moore also had a three-RBI game and finished the day 2-for-5 with the ninth-inning RBI-single and a two-run home run in the fifth.
Andrew Miller pitched in a 3-for-4 effort with a trio of singles, Mikey White posted a 2-for-4 game with a pair of singles, to finish the series with a .636 average (7-for-11), and Kenny Roberts added a single, a walk, a stolen base and three runs scored.
Mitch Greer (2-1) threw the final 2.1 innings for the Tide and earned the first SEC win of his career. The Prattville, Ala., native faced eight batters and used a total of 34 pitches to give his team a chance to win. Walsh (1-1) was charged with the loss for the Tigers after lasting 2.1 innings and allowing the final three runs on six hits with two strikeouts.
Sophomore south paw Justin Kamplain got the call in the final home game of the season for Alabama, hurling a career-high 10 strikeouts in 6.2 innings and allowing three runs on eight hits and a hit by pitch. The crafty left-hander did not walk a batter and tossed a career-high 120 pitches to deal with a career-high tying 29 batters faced.
“What a great start from [Justin] Kamplain,” Gaspard said. “He gave us a tremendous start. We extended his pitch count a little bit and tried to get him through seven innings. We realize right now we’ve got some work to do. In our bullpen we’ve got some guys that have lost some confidence and are struggling a little bit, and we’ve got to get that corrected in the next two or three days before we head to Vanderbilt. But that doesn’t take away from today’s victory.”
Missouri finished the day with 12 hits against Alabama, as Dillon Everett, Josh Lester, Dane Opel and Scott Sommerfeld all had two hits. Opel had two RBI and scored two runs and Dylan Kelly was 1-for-3 with two RBI. Tigers’ starting pitcher Rob Zastryzny threw 6.0 innings, allowing four unearned runs on seven hits with a walk and four strikeouts.
The Tide got the bats going first in the bottom of the third, sparked by Roberts reaching on an error. After Roberts stole second, Overstreet only needed to see the first pitch to drive a single into the right center gap and plate Roberts for an early 1-0 lead.
The Tigers matched in their next opportunity. The fourth frame was started off with an Opel single up the middle. Sommerfeld followed with a single and put runners on second and third for Kelly. Kelly fouled out to left on the first pitch he saw, but the throw home was not in time, as Opel scored to even the game at 1-1 on the sacrifice fly.
The first multiple-run inning came in the fifth on the bats of the Alabama lineup. Roberts got things started by working a full count for a walk, and advanced to third when Georgie Salem reached on an error by the first baseman. Overstreet continued to have success swinging on early counts, as he clubbed the first pitch of his at-bat to send Roberts home on a sacrifice fly. The inning was capped off when Moore uncorked a big drive over the left field wall for his fourth home run of the season, to give the Tide a 4-1 advantage.
Despite their first two batters being retired, Missouri answered the bell in the seventh frame. Everett reached base first with a triple to right center and Josh Lester singled into center field to bring Everett home. After a Keaton Steele walk, Opel tripled to left center plate both base runners. Two more singles from Sommerfeld and Kelly brought two more home to finish the inning with the Tigers leading 6-4.
After the Tide was blanked in the seventh and eighth innings, UA scored their fourth, fifth and sixth runs of the season in the ninth inning to pull off the walk-off victory. It was the first time this season that Alabama has won a game when trailing after seven innings.
The Alabama Crimson Tide travels to Nashville to finish out their regular season slate with a series at the second-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. CT on Friday and Saturday, and the season wraps up with a 1:00 p.m. CT start on Sunday.
Courtesy UA Media Relations