TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama battled to another pair of close victories on day two of the Easton Crimson Classic at Rhoads Stadium, defeating Saint Francis and Southern Miss by identical 3-1 scores.
Alabama (20-0) edged out a pair of close victories against Saint Francis (8-10) Southern Miss (9-8), starting the season with at least 20 wins without a loss for the fifth time in program history. The Crimson Tide and Red Flash cruised through four scoreless innings before Alabama took the first lead of the game in the bottom of the fifth. Saint Francis tied the game up in the next half-inning but a pair of solo home runs ultimately put the Tide ahead for good. It was a similar story in the nightcap, though Alabama scored right away in the first inning. Southern Miss tied it in the top of the second before a fielding error allowed two to cross in the bottom of the third, making the difference in the eventual two-run victory.
GAME ONE: ALABAMA 3, SAINT FRANCIS 1
Alabama and Saint Francis were scoreless until a fifth-inning RBI single from sophomore KB Sides gave the Tide the first lead of the game. The Red Flash tied it up in the top of the sixth but a pair of solo home runs from junior Merris Schroder and freshman Skylar Wallace swung it back in Alabama's favor, 3-1, which proved final. Senior Courtney Gettins threw 5.2 innings in the start but junior Sarah Cornell (7-0) took home the win with 1.1 relief innings behind her.
The two teams were scoreless through the first four innings, with the Tide stranding runners at the corners in the second and another in scoring position in the third. A one-out walk and hit-by-pitch put a pair on base in the bottom of the fifth and, two batters later, Sides ripped a hard-hit ball through the right side to score junior Taylor Clark from second and break the scoreless tie.
With two on and two out in the top of the sixth, what looked to be the final out was called back due to an illegal pitch and Saint Francis capitalized on the call, hitting an RBI single into left to tie the game at 1-1. With two on and two out, Alabama made the call to the bullpen as junior Sarah Cornell entered in relief and got the Tide out of the inning with a strikeout.
Leading off the bottom of the sixth, Schroder battled to a full count and blasted a solo home run to straightaway center, which put the Tide back in front, 2-1. Wallace added some insurance with another solo home run to make it 3-1. Saint Francis hit a two-out double in the top of the seventh to bring the potential tying run to the plate, but a swinging strikeout ended the game as Alabama held on for the two-run win.
GAME TWO: ALABAMA 3, SOUTHERN MISS 1
Alabama won its second game by an identical score as the first, defeating Southern Miss, 3-1. Only one of the four combined runs scored was earned, as defensive miscues accounted for the majority of the scoring. Tied at 1-1 in the third inning, a Golden Eagle fielding error allowed two Tide runners to cross, accounting for the difference in the 3-1 victory. For the second-straight game, freshman Montana Fouts (8-0) struck out 11 in the complete-game win
With one out in the bottom of the first inning, junior Elissa Brown reached on an infield single and stole second before coming home on an RBI single from sophomore Kaylee Tow. With two out and a runner at third in the top of the second, a fielding error extended the inning and allowed the Southern Miss run to score, tying it at 1-1.
Alabama placed two in scoring position with two out in the bottom of the third and an errant throw to first for what would have been the final out kept the inning going, allowing two unearned runs to score to make it 3-1. Fouts and the Tide defense did their part the rest of the way, holding the Golden Eagles at one run and cap the Saturday sweep.
Alabama concludes its weekend at the Easton Crimson Classic Sunday, March 3 at 1:30 p.m. CT against Michigan State.