March 13, 2016
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Will Haynie’s solo home run in the bottom of the eighth sealed the 7-6 win for Alabama over the 21st-ranked Houston Cougars on Sunday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Crimson Tide improves to 11-4 on the season with top-25 victory.
“It was a great feeling to get that home run,” said Haynie of his game-winning hit. “It feels like it’s been tough in the box for a while, but it just feels good to help the team get a win. I was sitting on a fastball, saw my pitch and got good contact on it.”
With two down, no one on and the game tied at 6-6 in the eighth, Haynie dug in and took the first pitch he saw deep to left field off the light pole to put Alabama in front, 7-6. The Crimson Tide offense notched three-run frames in the third and sixth innings to lead up to the game-deciding homer. Houston’s offense also posted big innings, scoring a pair in the fourth and adding three runs in the seventh to even the score late.
Haynie paced the Tide in hitting, finishing 2-for-3 with one RBI and two runs scored. Leading the team in RBI was junior Hunter Webb, who went 1-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored.
The Crimson Tide received a strong outing from senior starter Jon Keller, with the left-hander throwing 6.0 innings and allowing four runs (two earned) on six hits with a walk and three strikeouts. He was followed by a trio of relievers, including Dylan Duarte (2-1), who claimed his second win of the season thanks to a scoreless final two innings of work.
Houston kicked off the day’s scoring, using a pair of hits to put the Cougars in front, 1-0. Alabama answered with three of its own in the bottom of the third. Haynie reached on an error and then Daniel Cucjen singled, but another error by Houston allowed both runners to move into scoring position. Hunter Webb promptly cleared the bases with a double down the left field line to put Alabama in front, 2-1. The Tide added another run two batters later thanks to a Chance Vincent infield groundout that allowed Webb to score from third and extend the Tide lead to 3-1.
The Cougars countered with a pair of runs in the fourth. A leadoff walk followed by an error and a fielder’s choice scored two runs, both unearned of Keller, to move the tally to even at 3-3.
Alabama added three runs in the bottom of the sixth. Using a Cody Henry leadoff double to put one in scoring position, a throwing error on a Chandler Avant infield groundout allowed Henry to score and give UA the lead once again. Georgie Salem followed with a double to score Avant and chase the Houston starter. The new pitcher entered and hit the first batter he faced before giving up a single to center from Cucjen that plated Salem and gave Alabama the 6-3 lead heading to the seventh.
In the seventh, Houston used three hits and an error to even the score at 6-6. A single to left led off the inning and ended Keller’s day. Houston drew a walk and then an error put two in scoring position with the Cougar leadoff man singling to center to score two before the Tide made another pitching change. A single to left loaded the bases and then a sac fly to right scored the tying run for the visitors.
Alabama broke the tie with Haynie’s homer and sealed the win thanks to a perfect 1-2-3 final inning from Duarte.
“It’s been a little bit of a battle for the last six games offensively,” said Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard. “So it was nice to see the offense going. We had to overcome a lot this weekend. We had three guys injured, and a couple of them were on the fly with last-minute type stuff. I thought some guys like Hunter (Webb), Dylan Duarte, and (Daniel) Cucjen stepped in and did a really nice job. They really impacted the game today to help us win.”
Following today’s matchup, Alabama will begin a streak of six games away from home, first with Southern Miss on Tuesday, March 15 at 6 p.m. CT. The Crimson Tide will then travel to Baton Rouge to open Southeastern Conference play with the LSU Tigers. The two teams will take part in a three-game weekend series, with Friday’s contest scheduled for a 7 p.m. CT start.
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